Functional Gifts in Dysfunctional People

I made a Facebook comment recently that “order will not limit the function of our gifts and anointings.” I was directing attention away from the idea that leadership and accountability are limiters in spiritual operations. Leadership accountability is as basic to spiritual gifts as receiving, activating, and functioning in those gifts in the first place.

We must take care not to create forums for spiritual gift functions where no accountability for those functioning exists. There is no Scriptural basis for people running around operating in spiritual gifts outside the context of leadership. And, there is no Scriptural basis for the practice of spiritual gifts by people with behavioral dysfunctions “outside the four walls” since they will be ministering to people who have the same dysfunctions!

So, just because there are people out there “doing their thing” without accountability doesn’t mean you should, too.

The “Don’t Shut Me Down” Dilemma

As the ekklesia moved into a new season – what some call the Day of the Saints – in which individuals are empowered, gifted, and activated, a great challenge arose with our “way of doing church.” The great challenge demanded a shift, and many existing wineskins resisted this change.

A common scenario in which awakened and activated people, passionate and powerful with spiritual anointing were not allowed to use their gifts because the structure didn’t allow for this developed, and existing leaders were often too invested in the status quo to allow for new structures or to change the existing ones.

A new class emerged, born of revolutionary revival, who felt ‘shut down’ by their leaders. Often, they were, in fact, shut down by the existing leaders and structures. Their leaders made no place for the function of their gifts and anointings. So, they faced a dilemma. Go forward or turn back. Some did turn back and “got over it” in terms of revival. Many did not.

The “I’m on My Own” Christian

This new class pressed into new, exciting models of ministry. Many found wonderful leaders to father their passion and power as new ministries were born that functioned in ways that made room for them. Some became so disillusioned by the rejection, they quit everything, including Jesus. Others, however, created another alternative for ministry function that, although not new or novel by any means, developed into a strange phenomenon, a way of ministering foreign to Scripture and injurious to Jesus’ strategy for kingdom.

They just went out did their own thing “in His Name, hallelujah!”

When we combine “poor leadership” with this new class of “no leadership” we are left facing a dominant condition of the Body in modern America: either the leadership is dysfunction because it refuses to change to accommodate what Jesus is doing here and now, or there is no leadership because those who operate in spiritual gifts and anointings are simply not interested in being accountable to anyone but Jesus directly.

In this way, we are left with a generation of passionate, gifted, and anointed people with little or no accountability. Really bad idea! This is more dysfunctional than the death we faced before! While I would vote for the life and the new any day, we don’t need to be without order to function.

Glaring examples abound! Yet, other examples are also available that are much more serious in my mind than the ones we read about in the papers. There is a deep need for spiritual fathering in this generation, and many are choosing to be fatherless to avoid accountability.

The problem has been a leadership problem, but I would submit that the solution may also be leadership solution. And, hell is attempting to destroy leadership so the solution never becomes available.

Perhaps, you have been guilty of complaining that “someone should have done something about Todd Bentley” when you would reject a leader holding you accountable for your personal behavior dysfunction. Just saying…

Dysfunctional People, Functional Gifts

When I observed a functional gift in a dysfunction person, I don’t ask myself: “Why doesn’t God do something about that?” I only ask if I am responsible to bring them to account. Although people are a work in progress, they cannot function in spiritual gifts beyond the limits of their dysfunctional behaviors.

For example, you can prophesy accurately and still behave with deception, but you cannot allow a prophet who lies to people when he not prophesying to function as a prophet. You cannot allow his mouth to speak revelation while ignoring the lies his mouth speaks about his finances, marriage, work habits, and personal relationships.

Other people say that the person’s gift is false or the person is false. Still others would say that “God doesn’t have anything to do with that” because they assume God would never use dysfunctional people, and anything spiritual that happens through the dysfunctional person would be “devilish” is released through the dysfunctional person.

God always has, still does, and will in the future use dysfunctional people, and the gifts will be given by God to people with dysfunctional behaviors. Because, once He gives those gifts, He will expect leaders within the kingdom to deal with the dysfunctions!

Why doesn’t God do something about a functional gift in a dysfunctional person? Because it is not God’s problem. It is the problem of the ecclesia’s leaders. It is their assignment along with the activation of gifts, impartation of gifts, and training people with gifts to function in spiritual gifts. They are there to deal with the dysfunctional behaviors of the people who exercise spiritual gifts. Yes, people are responsible to deal with dysfunctional behavior.

God made this strategic design decision, not man. Man have altered the original leadership strategy of Jesus, but that alteration has not destroyed the possibility of its full restoration nor has time made the original design obsolete or irrelevant.

Holy Spirit determines which gifts are given to which people. Holy Spirit is consistent, constant, and credible. However, the people He chooses to gift are not perfect, and the gifts they receive does not remove the need for accountability. They create the need for accountability. Until people function spiritually, they need no spiritual accountability.

False or Evil?

Dysfunctional people can have functional gifts, and their dysfunctions can make their functional gifts false. I didn’t say they were devilish. I said they are “false.”

A false prophet isn’t about whether or not the person can properly receive revelation or speak revelation; it is about the motives of the heart. So, a person functioning in witchcraft isn’t a false prophet, but not a prophet at all! A person with a spiritual gift who uses that gift to manipulate, control, or “witchcraft” people has a functional gift but a dysfunctional disposition, and a true word becomes a weapon of unrighteousness in their hands.

So, no one has the right or authority from God to function in a vacuum. We must try the spirits to see “if they be of God” because spiritual darkness exists. Not everything spiritual is good. However, “every good and perfect comes down from the Father of lights.”

The function of gifts must always occur where accountability is available and those functioning must make themselves accountable so that their gifts and anointings will functional properly, and their personal dysfunctions will not invalidate their gifts and anointings.

The solution to the false cannot be the elimination of the true. We cannot solve the problem of a runaway gift of mercy by eliminating mercy! However, runaway mercy should be dealt with by leaders who speak to the dysfunctional behavior of someone who has a valid, functional gift of mercy.

A person living in sinful behavior, dominated by a work of flesh, who has a spiritual gift and anointing, can still function in their spiritual gift. The gift will work. It can still be accurate and powerful. People will still get healed, saved, and empowered because it is God doing these things anyway.

It isn’t the devil doing something: that is a different kind of wonder – a lying wonder is done by a lying spirit as a function of darkness. The devil parading as an angel of light is still a demon of darkness impersonating the true.

The ekklesia should do something about a person functioning in a spiritual gift when their personal dysfunction operates contrary to the purpose of the gift. In other words, a person can be functionally dysfunctional! The gift functions but what the gift accomplishes is inconsistent with the purpose of ministry.

They say, “Stop the dysfunctional behavior or shut down the function of the gift.” We should not allow people continuing to commit adultery to continue to preach, prophesy, release healing and miracles, or other spiritual gift functions in a way that creates the appearance that their dysfunctional behavior is normal.

The strategy of Jesus to confront and fix these problems is designed into kingdom leadership. The relationship function is called “accountability.” That accountability must be personal, confrontational, and sometimes messy, but it is absolutely necessary.

With revelatory gifts, it is not difficult to get people functioning. They can easily be activated to see and hear in the spirit because this is available to newly born. Jesus says, “Until you are born anew, you cannot see the kingdom.” So, even newborns can see.

The greater stresses come with learning what to do with the revelation received. Here, a massive amount of disservice is done to the Body when we allow gift functions to be diminished by dysfunctional behaviors.

If a person has a problem with anger, their prophetic gift will turn properly-received revelation into a ball bat. (God’s speaks with a certain tone unavailable to those dominated by their own feelings, and His Words need to be shared with His heart.)

If a person has a rejection complex, their mercy gift will twist ministry toward “need-driven” crusading. (Jesus never ministered based upon need but by assignment.) If a person has an approval addiction or control spirit, their gift of sharing can be trap to create the need for themselves or control ministries or people with money.

Interesting that people will tolerate a dysfunctional person functioning in mercy, giving, even teaching or administration but blow a gasket about the same person with the same dysfunction praying for the sick or prophesying.

We are not called as leaders to make people accountable for the function of their gifts without making them accountable for the function of their lives!

I was deeply troubled by the adultery, pride, drunkenness, deceit, and deception of ministry leaders whose leadership was finally uncovered and halted. I was deeply troubled that this test of ekklesia leadership revealed that we remain pretty much inept at dealing with dysfunctional people who have powerful spiritual gifts, and we need to get better, quickly!

In the case of Lakeland, someone could have dealt with the pride and silliness of ministry behavior when it first started, and then a light would have come on about the other behaviors. I know that some people working on the platform night after night had no personal knowledge of the personal behaviors of Todd off the platform. The point is that someone should have, and the failure is more on Todd’s shoulders than anyone’s. He should have made himself accountable.

It doesn’t matter how many times you got to Heaven and see things beyond words to describe. That doesn’t affirm that God is pleased with your attitude, motivations, accuracy of teaching, or personal life. Nor does the power of our revelation determine the validity of what you did with the revelation after you received it. A person can be tremendously accurate in receiving revelation and blindly narcissistic in what they do with the revelation. “I see angels, now I are one” may produce more of a freak show than a kingdom message.

That doesn’t mean the revelation was of the devil. Nor, does a person’s dysfunctional behavior mean that everyone who attends their meetings receives a demon. What silly superstition! Nor, does it mean that if someone received salvation or healing at their meetings they were not really saved or they were healed by the devil! Dysfunctional behavior doesn’t turn a spiritual gift of miracles into a hellish anointing for “lying wonders.”

For example, the point to be made by the story of Sceva’s sons attempting to use Jesus’ Name to cast out demons is that they were not functioning in any spiritual gifts or anointing they received from Holy Spirit. They were functioning in magic, witchcraft, and divination and attempted to make Jesus another tool in their tool bag. The girl at Philippi who accurately identified Paul and others as men of God was not functioning in false prophecy but in divination, and when the demon left so did the divination. She wasn’t a false prophet. She was a diviner. Big difference.

Accountability and Gifts

The ekklesia was designed to function within the kingdom, as a kingdom assembly, with leaders set in place by Jesus to make those assigned to their leadership accountable to fulfill their personal and corporate assignments. Their personal assignments mesh with corporate assignments that mesh with generational and cultural assignments.

We should be making ourselves accountable to leaders who are faithful to these assignments. We must separate ourselves from leaders who refuse to change, stop being dead-ended by poor leadership, and discover the added benefits available when two put ten thousand to flight!

Accountability will always take us back to God’s purpose and our destiny. It will never limit the gifts and anointings but will cause them to function in concert with the whole of the kingdom!

Here a tougher lesson to learn: making ourselves accountable will position us for a cleansing of false expectations and dreams.

The wannabe spirit gets on everybody. Especially people with conference-itis who spend an inordinate amount of time running from one super-saint show to another identifying themselves with successful people they are not called to be like while ignoring their own destinies and preparation for purpose.

I have had more than one spiritual son or daughter sit across from me with a “I’ve got him now” look in their eyes, who wanted me to celebrate a fantasy, to convince me that they were going to be someone or do something great for God when they were still having trouble with behavior issues spiritually mature people conquer early on in their walk with God. I was the person they wanted to validate their fantasy and wannabe spirit. Guess who becomes the enemy of your destiny when you are moved by a wannabe spirit: the person who attempts to make you face reality.

Accountability is about what to do with spiritual gifts and anointings as much as it is about living a holy life consistent with the One who gives you the gifts and pours on the oil. Leaders are not there to simply dish out the stuff so you can go do whatever you please with it. Leaders are assigned to your life to bring maturity to you and your gifts, toward a still greater goal of shared purpose.

Some of the “get back to basics” stuff out there right now is really a “I don’t want to be accountable” wannabe spirit dressed up in hype. “Let’s just do this” and “why can’t we all just get along” and “let’s just preach Jesus” and “love does it all” can be code for “let’s dumb it down so I don’t have to be accountable to anyone for my out-of-control rejection, anger, lust, rebellion, or false doctrine.

I function prophetically. God speaks to me about nations. So, I make myself accountable at an international level by reading what God is saying to other leaders who function at an international level. I also submit what God is saying about a nation to a leader in that nation who has an international level leadership function. I don’t just speak because God showed me something and that’s all the authorization I need.

I am going to obey God, for sure! I am going to communicate His message to nations no matter what it takes! However, with the revelation comes a strategy, a series of being positioned by God to speak for God, and a path of accountability that puts the message into a proper context so the whole of the kingdom benefits even when the word of the Lord is strong, confrontational, and directive.

At whatever level of spiritual gifts and anointing you function, you will discover God assigning you to a position in the Body from which to function, a place of safety that will also confront your dysfunction, to lovingly move you into greater function and deal with you weaknesses or fatal flaws. Ignoring, avoiding, or running from accountability will shut down your gifts and anointing. Walking in kingdom order will never limit the function of your gifts and anointings even when it requires a season of non-function for correction and reset.

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Dr. Don

Dr. Don

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