I’ve had people, some in positions of leadership within the Church, occasionally challenge my right to prophesy. It comes with the territory. These challenges take place for a variety of reasons. In one instance what I said challenged a pastor’s role in his church. He informed me that the word I spoke gave too much authority to the members of his congregation. Another challenge came regarding something I shared that was outside a leader’s current understanding of a particular topic so the prophetic word was not received because it was not a familiar subject.
I am always open to having my opinion or prophetic insight challenged. Most of these challenges are handled with honor in private and not duked out in public. We all miss it from time to time. I sure do. In most of these instances, if people would simply go back and reread something I wrote with an open mind and heart those concerns typically disappear. We are all too eager to read our opinion into a narrative or a prophetic word to create a preferred interpretation. When this happens we can hijack the heart of a word or the intent of the one sharing and let our bias determine our understanding. Most of our attempts to correct others have more to do with us than those we are attempting to correct.
In Numbers 11, Moses is prophesying. He gathered seventy elders from the people and positioned them around his tent. The text says “Then the Lord came down in the cloud and spoke to him, and He took away some of the Spirit who was upon him and placed Him upon the seventy elders. And when the Spirit rested upon them, they prophesied” (vs. 25).
Two of the elders remained in the camp to prophesy and did not join the seventy. A young man ran and informed Moses of what was happening. He asked Moses to restrain these two unauthoized prophets. Moses responded, “If only all the Lord’s people were prophets, that the Lord would put His Spirit upon them!” (vs. 29).
A similar experience was shared by Paul when people began to preach with a mixture of good and bad motives. Paul said, “But that doesn’t matter. Whether their motives are false or genuine, the message about Christ is being preached either way, so I rejoice” (Philippians 1:18).
Both Moses and Paul have a lot to teach us all about how to handle our differences. I want to learn more about how to live this way in an increasingly insecure and confrontive world.