Defining terms, the “maturing” of ministry would involve moving it closer to its highest expression, effectiveness, and efficiency of design and intended purpose. Maturing moves us to a higher level of success when we define “success” by what the prophetic was design and bestowed upon the kingdom to provide in terms of leadership, revelation, and judgment. While we can certainly define “success” in the gift of prophecy by the terms used by Paul – edify, comfort, encourage – we need to more fully discuss how that gift operation fits into the greater prophetic ministry as prophets lead foundationally and provide greater revelatory integrity to what the Spirit is saying to the Ecclesias.
Maturing the Prophets
Certainly one aspect attendant to maturing the prophetic ministry would be to mature those engaged in that ministry, to personally mature them as individuals and as leaders. This is a discipling process that touches the whole person. While the function may be further enhanced with effectiveness, the authenticity of the prophetic and its validity as a leadership ministry requires that the people doing that ministry mature spiritually and personally.
Many prophetic people fall short of a fuller prophetic lifestyle, the behavior of a mature disciple of Jesus. They have gifts in operational order and prophetic function, but they lack the maturity of personal and spiritual living. They fall victim to soulish anger, selfish ambition, family and financial disorder, and maintain roots of pride, shame, rejection, bitterness, and rebellion. While the activation and function of gifts, anointing, and calling are valid, their immaturity tends to undermine their function because of glaring inconsistencies in motivation and fatal flaws of personal behavior. That is, their personal spiritual immaturity brings their greater function in prophetic ministry into question, making their ministry more difficult to trust and receive.
The process of prophetic function – revelation, communication, interpretation, application, implementation – is much greater in scope than revelatory experience alone. We cannot separate the life and personality of the prophet from the prophetic ministry in which that prophetic person is engaged.
Maturing Prophetic Function
At some point, to make a point, we began to “dumb down” prophetic function to prove our point that “all may prophesy.” That is, we began to include revelatory gift operations in our definition of “prophecy” when word of knowledge or wisdom and discernment are not prophecy. Certainly prophetic people and training include the activation of revelatory gifts and experience, however, the operations of gifts and the functions of the prophetic are not the same thing.
Not to diminish the simplicity of revelatory gifts and prophetic communication! Who among us has not seen simple words like “God wants you to know…” that were childlike but not childish that moved the person to tears, broke open the vulnerable places of the soul for greater healing and freedom, and implanted a living coal into hungry, receiving people!
However, the fact that God speaks isn’t the same as what we discuss here in terms of prophetic maturity. God can speak through a donkey. This isn’t to be construed as God needs dumbbells to voice His words. The lesson of the prophesying donkey is a much different subject from the discussion of prophetic ministry. The donkey didn’t become a prophet.