My wife and I pastor a church in the Mohawk Valley of New York State. We are also traveling ministers who are on the road a great deal. The prophetic ministry we have is quite unique and at times we have received invitations that took us into Canada, Israel, Africa and other wonderful places. More than that it has given us friends across the United States and around the world. That being said, ministry can also produce some pretty big elephants in the room.
What I mean is, we who are ministers have good hearts and desire to serve God and His people with honor, honesty and purity. We pray, study Scripture and do our best to share God’s heart with those He sends us to. Yet even with all this searching and seeking, at times we miss it. We get distracted, we may be physically tired or emotionally drained, and that is a setup for miscommunication between us, others and God. Our human capacity for error shows up in these moments and this becomes an elephant in the room, so to speak, that ministers and congregations don’t want to talk about.
For anyone called as an apostle, a prophet, an evangelist, a pastor or a teacher, an “elephant” has varying degrees of importance. It can be nothing more than a bump in the road that is soon forgotten, or it can be a killing blow that ends what really is a vibrant, genuine call of God. Of the five ministries mentioned above, those of us called to prophetic ministry have the most hanging in the balance. This is due mainly to wrong teaching, lack of Biblical understanding or fear in the church of being misled by a “false prophet”. The point is, those of us in prophetic ministry miss it on occasion, and we find it very difficult to get rid of those elephants. One mistake can easily kill our ministry in one area, or church forever.
We had just such an elephant brought to our attention during our last ministry trip into Canada. The French speaking churches we go to love us, and we love them. The fact is, we have spoken clear, detailed, highly accurate prophetic words to them for many years, and our ministry is well respected in that culture. A number of congregations consider us to be their spiritual father and mother in the faith, and that is a very high honor.
Yet with all that honor, one of our host pastors mentioned that something hapened during our last trip to Quebec, and it really hit me. It was an elephant in the room we were unaware of, but it had to be addressed. Apparently I had given a “word” to another Canadian pastor more than a year ago an it did not come to pass. I don’t know the details, but it seemed clear that this was a miss on my part. When it was brought up, I listened with care and then went through the normal emotions to be expected. In the end I knew I had to think about it and then get back to them after setting aside time to ask God what happened.
In the final analysis I had to face the fact that even though I am usually right on, this was one time I had missed the mark. My heart was in the right place, but I was moved by my concern for this particular pastor when I spoke over him, and I was not moved by God’s Spirit. He was comforted in that moment, but was not given a clear vision by the Holy Spirit through what I had said. This elephant had to be addressed and our host pastor was right on target to ask me about it.
How did I respond when the issue was brought up? Did I argue, try to justify things and make excuses? No! I was uncomfortable to say the least, but we still talked about it, honestly. When Esther and I left for the U.S. later that day, I gave it thought and prayer, and I realized there was more to be done. So, I sent an email to our host pastors and asked them to express my sincere apology to the other pastor for what had happened. I admitted I was wrong and took full responsibility for the incorrect word that was spoken. In other words, I owned the elephant and by doing so, I was able to take it out of the room.
Biblically speaking this is the right way to deal with those kinds of things. Especially when it comes to prophetic ministry, we have to embrace the reality that at times a prophet may not be correct. You don’t ignore the issue, or through pride and insecurity refuse to admit you were wrong. You look at things honestly and get it out in the open. 1st Thessalonians 5:20-21 puts it this way: “do not despise prophetic utterance, but examine everything carefully and hold fast to that which is good”. The stuff that is not good you apparently don’t hold on to. You talk about it and resolve any misunderstandings. You take full responsibility for it, apologize and then let it go!
What about the elephants in your life? How do you deal with them when they show up? Do you make excuses, point the finger at someone else or get all bent out of shape? Does your pride and ego direct the show so that nothing is ever addressed, or honestly embraced as being your fault? Perhaps it is time to call things what they are and be honest with yourself and others about the mistakes you’ve made. If you are in ministry this is one key that can unlock your future. The hallmark of great ministry is not about being right, it’s about being honest and humble when you are not right.
If you are no longer comfortable with the life you have, it may be time to clean out a few elephants. If there is little room for you to move about freely, perhaps you should take responsibility for your elephants and get them out of the room. You will be amazed at how good it feels to face the truth and be set free. Not only will you begin to enjoy your life and ministry again, those who really love you will embrace your transparency and love you all the more.
By the way,.. I am please to say that we will be going back to our French speaking brothers and sisters in Canada once again.. Dieu Est Bon ! 🙂