Leadership, Prophecy, and Criticism
In the Old Testament, every time God wanted to do something significant, He would raise up a prophet. Today, God is still looking for men and women who will listen to Him and speak for Him. Would you love to speak for God? Lead spiritual movements? Catalyze people toward God’s mission? For that to be the case, you and I must embrace the requirements that come with being a prophet. Prophets have a few key characteristics.
Prophets get their vision from God.
Prophets never define the vision for themselves. God doesn’t promise to put His stamp of approval on our agenda. Prophets must get the vision from God. The word vision in the Bible is actually translated revelation. Vision is something revealed to us by God! We don’t get our vision from a conference or another church or organization. True prophets spend time alone with God enough to receive a fresh vision only God can give. If we want to be the type of prophet God uses in these last days, we have to be still enough for long enough to know what God is saying. We must accept that we do not invent or strategically shape the vision. We get our vision from Him!
Prophets challenge the status quo.
A true prophet is bold enough to go against the grain. When we communicate a fresh vision that challenges the status quo, some will disagree with us. No prophet has ever gotten one hundred percent support from everyone. Jesus couldn’t even get one hundred percent support! He even had one guy who was kissing him on the cheek while stabbing him in the back! Why would we think that our leadership would be different?
Prophets embrace criticism and loss.
If you begin challenging the status quo, it won’t be long until you are approached by a group that wants to “meet and talk about some things.” This was the case with Nehemiah.
“When word came to Sanballat, Tobiah, Geshem the Arab and the rest of our enemies that I had rebuilt the wall…Sanballat and Geshem sent me this message: ‘Come, let us meet together in one of the villages on the plain of Ono.’ But they were scheming to harm me” Nehemiah 6:1-2 (NIV).
Nehemiah reminds us that every prophet has had critics and criticisms. How do we respond to critics and criticism in our leadership? Just like Nehemiah did. First, we shouldn’t spend too much time listening to them. Nehemiah said:
“I am carrying on a great project and cannot go down. Why should the work stop while I leave it and go down to you?” Four times they sent me the same message, and each time I gave them the same answer” Nehemiah 6:3-4 (NIV).
Nehemiah basically says, “No, I don’t have time to hang out with my critics. I am on a mission here, and I can’t slow down just because a few don’t agree.”
Don’t misunderstand. I’m not saying we should be un-teachable or un-coachable. I’m not saying that we should avoid critique. Critiques come from people who love us; believe in us; and believe in the mission we are on. Critiques seek to strengthen the mission and make me a better leader. Criticism, however, has a an alternate agenda. Criticism undermines the mission and my leadership. Taking a cue from Nehemiah, critics no longer get our ear!
Prophets live to please the right audience.
Does it hurt when we are criticized? You bet. However, prophets always make a decision. Moses made his decision by a burning bush. Jesus made his decision in a desert. Jonah made his in the belly of a whale. Paul made his on the road to Damascus. Each of these leaders made the decision to live to please the right audience. Two thousand years later, we must do the same when we take our offices, stages, platforms, and pulpits every weekend. We must make a conscious choice: Which audience will I seek to please today? The apostle Paul said:
“Obviously, I’m not trying to win the approval of people, but of God. If pleasing people were my goal, I would not be Christ’s servant” Galatians 1:10 (NLT).
Today, God is looking for people who will answer the call to become his prophets. If you’re willing to answer that call, you could be one of those people that’s written about a long time from now. More importantly, God will remember you.