Prophets and Exhorters, Part 2

The last post on Prophets and Exhorters was something I needed to get out.

For whatever reason, I personally am drawn to Exhorters, to be life-giving to them, and to bring them dignity.  I have a lot to say about them.  There is much to celebrate about them.

Okay, so after that last post, here are some other ideas about my unique design, and then about Exhorters, Prophets, and the dynamic between them.

MY DESIGN

I have been working through this concept of what my Redemptive Gift is for some time.

Many people have given their opinions. I am fine with that input.

Eventually, one of these will emerge as the stronger.

With apologies to Adam Esbenshade, Sandy Landry, and John Mosley for having all sorts of conversations about this topic.

What I do know:
1) I love transformation.  I love seeing people come to a place of understanding.

2) I love providing a complete package of understanding. I don’t like critical details to be missing from helping people understand the path they are on and the path that Father intends for them. I hunt for the missing piece to solve some sort of Rubik’s Cube.

3) This is where my deep research of Scripture and love of the languages come in handy.  I add what is missing. I fill out detail. I add color.  I don’t just create skeleton frameworks. I create fuller pictures.

4) I am designed to not only work with land, but also to help others work with the land.

5) I am relational in part. I understand principles and the idea of blessing, and I love to bless others.

6) I am a wordsmith. I write intensively.

7) I enjoy being in motion.

8) I think in terms of principles, and, increasingly, I love to solve problems.

9) I am pretty much a what-you-see-is-what-you-get kind of person.  If you want to know what I think, you ask.  Now, I am capable of being kind and relational because I often times am pretty good at gauging what people are going to be able to handle.

10) I am very very very emotional.

11) I am also trusting to a fault.

WHICH GIFT?

I found out that my last post was shared in some unusual places without my knowledge. I know that in that post I had confessed that there was a possibility that I might be an Exhorter, and in some place I had gone so far as to say I had received some affirmation as an Exhorter.

There are some of you that said, “but wait, I thought he said he was a Prophet at one point”.

Others have said, “finally he admitted the truth!”

Still others have said,”more confusion”.

And others might also have said,”wounding.”

And others have asked questions about what I meant by Exhorters backstabbing Prophets.

So, in order to attempt to clear up confusion, let me give you a series of thoughts here.

MY EXHORTER CONTEXT

First of all, when many of you see the Exhorter come out of me, I can explain several factors that might explain some of my Exhorter-esque behavior without calling me a Redemptive Gift Exhorter.

First of all, I was raised on Exhorter land.

I am the baby in the family, which leaves an Exhorter imprint.

My brother is a card-carrying, vintage Exhorter. He is the guy who sneezes and three people get saved.

A spiritually significant ex-pastor of mine (a spirotual father of mine), is an Exhorter.

And several influential people in my life are Exhorters.

Me, I am not so sure I am an Exhorter in my hardwiring. I have for the last several years leaned more strongly toward Prophet than Exhorter.

But there are many ways in which I interact like an Exhorter.

So, we are on this journey together, and I am well with the conversation, and wherever it ends up, I will be satisfied with the outcome.

MY EXHORTER-ISH BEHAVIORS

I won’t rehash the traditional childhood stories of dislike and being unpopular, but I will say I was not socially active until I got to college.

And then BAM!

In two weeks I went from being unknown to being known by at least 80 percent of the people on campus. That one dynamic never changed in the four years I was there in college, though a close-knit circle of friends did eventually coalesce.

The draw of others to me was instantaneous, virtually. I did not blend in whatever. I still don’t.

And I grew up seeing the worst side of the Exhorter gift.

So, here is what I said to myself when I saw repeated expressions of the worst of that gift.

“I absolutely refuse to engage in this behavior.  No control, no manipulation, no backstabbing of others. Period.”

Now, let me frame the above three phrases, because I have said a lot about the negative side of the Exhorter.

The Redemptive Gifts, in their carnal manifestations each have their own negative side, and each is a different flavor:

Prophet:  Fracturing Relationships over an ideological issue.
Servant: Victim mentality with peace at any cost
Teacher: Doing everything except the one thing they have been told to do. Behaving in a predatory fashion (Amalekites).
Exhorter: Control of people by manipulating elements related to cohesive relationships.
Giver: Control of situations to yield outcomes that are favorable to them
Ruler: Exploitation in order to grow their systems
Mercy: Stubbornness and Sexual Impurity

And yes, I could write a goodly article about each, so please do not think that my pointing out the Exhorter’s issues is because I have a vendetta against Exhorters.

I saw some Exhorters use their charisma to network and then use their networked influence with others to control. And it never ended well.

Now let me qualify that statement:  Those Exhorters that engaged in this sort of behavior did so for one of at least two reasons:

1) they had not yielded their gift to the L-rd.
2) they had embraced some perception in their lives that was a not similar to reality.

On the other hand, I have seen Exhorters that used their gifts, in the context of a surrendered life to the L-rd, to accomplish great things, communicate complex spiritual truths in language the soul can understand, and create communities with the flick of a wrist.  I have detailed some of those very positive attributes in previous posts.

So, given these qualifiers, let me flesh out a couple of particular dynamics.

PRESENTATION

Exhorters are given to the concept of presentation.

On the one hand, in a healthy form of this expression, are those who dress with an eye to color, a well-coordinated outfit, and plenty of sparkle or a sharpness in their dress, or some capacity to work well with words of mannerisms so as to foster an space where community is easy to form.  They love color, sparkle, bling, jewelry, gemstones, and this is not a superficial facet of their hardwiring.  They use these affinities to help polish the image they put forward for others to enjoy.

On the other hand, in the unhealthy form of presentation in either:

1) an Exhorter church or organization

2) a church or organization in an Exhorter community

3) a church or organization that occupies the former property once owned by an Exhorter organization

The dynamic of presentation can (not a guarantee that it does, but an acknowledgement that it can) manifest in some unhealthy dynamics.

For example, I have a friend who was molested in an Exhorter church for which he worked. The church responded by firing the perpetrator of the abuse, and then responded by firing this friend. They did so in order to protect their reputation.

This is a negative manifestation of that dynamic of presentation. When the Exhorter engages in covert, hurtful behaviors in order to maintain a certain appearance before others, then the image may be maintained for a while, but it can hurt those who suffer from those hurtful behaviors.

The presentation dynamic is not meant to engage in malicious intent in order to protect reputation. Rather, it is designed to help express one thing: the concepts of the spirit in the language and package of the soul.

There is a language that the Spirit speaks to our human spirits, and Exhorters, as the master communicators are designed to make it easy for us to understand those complex realities.

COMMUNICATION

Exhorters are the master communicators, crafting words and phrases in such a way that makes the truth they communicate easy to digest for the largest number of people.

The negative manifestation comes out when they relying on this quality to influence people without first submitting it to Almighty G-d leads to the next issue.

For example, I belonged to a church pastored by an Exhorter in a particular city where I went to college.  This church believed it exercised spiritual authority over the local university in the city, where I and some close friends attended.

However, a group of us students were led to start praying for that college without first running it by the pastor of this church.  We were effective in praying, and the L-rd gave us extensive spiritual authority over the campus.  This pastor responded with the belief that the university was his spiritual domain, so he scheduled a meeting with those of us who led this group, and asked us to consider submitting the prayer group to his authority and oversight.  The leader of the group said he would pray about it.  School then broke that week for Christmas Vacation, and while at home, the leader heard from the L-rd not to put the group under that pastor’s authority. However, before he could return to give that answer to the pastor, the following week, I attended church there, and at some point during the sermon, the pastor slandered us from the pulpit, calling us “kids who were shooting at principalities with water pistols”.  I had to recover from that, because I could not believe what I had heard.  It was very surreal.  We had now become marked men.  Even when the leader of the prayer ministry returned, without knowledge that this had happened while he was away, he sought the pastor out to give him the answer he had heard from the L-rd, but the pastor’s wife told him that he was not welcome.  This leader of our prayer ministry was a Redemptive Gift Prophet.

And this is precisely what happens in the worst of the Exhorter, when their gift of communication goes awry.  People get hurt.

And in my case, I was friends with both this pastor, and the leader of this prayer ministry, and I got caught in the crossfire with divided loyalties.  Do I support my friend who was clearly just doing what he was called to do, or do I submit to my pastor, who should have been high-functioning but shot off at the mouth?

In the end, I went with my friend, though I never once called the pastor out or slandered him with a railing accusation.

Those days were some of the hardest in my life, because they began a season of warfare that was draining and left me with very little resources.  They left us with a number of curses that were in effect from the moment we ran afoul of the church in 2002, until we uncovered and broke those curses about a year ago.

So, in summary, I have seen a number of instances of the result when an Exhorter does not submit their gift to G-d’s use, and the result is very much destructive.  So, when I talk about Exhorters backstabbing Prophets, I think of this example, among others, and I also think of Exhorters who are unsubmitted to Christ as far as their gift is concerned.

I am not talking about the dozens of gifted men and women I know who have paid the price, willingly or unwillingly, embraced the pain, and submitted their gift, and flow in it in a healthy fashion.

THE BACKSTABBING ISSUE

I have seen the Prophet Exhorter Relationship go vastly sideways, and to directly address the concept of the Exhorter capacity to backstab, let me frame it the other way around.  A Prophet never stabs you in the back, rather when they get out of control, they stab you in the face, head-on, and leave you bleeding.

So, in the very worst manifestation, when an Exhorter like my ex-pastor is not yielded in their gift to the L-rd, there can be the added pitfall of talking about a person or group, which can lead to talking badly about that person or group, which can further lead–because of their capacity to influence large groups of people–to getting buy-in and agreement from a large group that says “yes” to the vision the carnal or low-functioning Exhorter has given to them.

Now, I have seen this happen a number of times, and while it does happen, let me also be the first to admit that I do not believe it to be the majority of cases.  And let me also be the first to say that it is not an inevitability, but rather a potential problem.

If it applies to you then work at dealing with it, and if not, then disregard.

PROPHET PITFALLS

Now, on the other hand, let’s talk about Prophets.  Black and white, ideological, understand principles, have an opinion about everything, volcanic emotions, and often times, in their low-level function, they are going to destroy relationships in order to hold onto a principle or a belief.  And let’s not forget the tunnel vision that can happen.

I have seen these Prophets destroy relationships that were G-d-ordained before their times due to cynicism.  I have destroyed some of those relationships myself.

Further, there are times that, because of the damage I have seen church leadership engage in, I have grown leery of the behavior of many in leadership, because of the way in which they have treated friends and family.

I have friends who have left the local church due to wounding by leadership.  They are in a position of living in the mindset of Life After Church because they haven’t found local churches that are truly safe places.

I think the fact that the church has grown into an unsafe place is a disgrace and a blot on the local church.  I think the fact that sniping happens in the local church is a disgrace.  I am unsettled that our churches have become places where believers who are sons are taken to task by other sons and as a result the church fractures and relationships fracture.

I am angered by the fact that I have friends who live in a number of states and cannot connect with local churches because of the Amalekite spirit of predation that enables other believers to cannibalize my friends.

Our responsibility as Prophets and Exhorters is to make sure that our churches are safe communities where no self-respecting Amalekite spirit of Predation would feel safe infiltrating.

EXHORTATIONS TO PROPHETS

Prophets, it is the express responsiblity of you in partnership with Teachers to see to it that this demonic predatory entity called Amalek does not have a toehold in the dignity of someone whom G-d created.

Prophets, you are responsible for the watchcare and defense and dignity and justice due to the spirits of those who are harassed through assault on the second level of principles. It is a justice issue. Period.

Prophets, with due respect, if the principles are yours to embrace in fullness, get your butts onto the second level of human relationships, put your pointy little noses to the grindstone, and work out on that second level until you have earned authority to deal with this tragedy that plagues the church.  It is partially yours.

Believe me, I know it hurts to trust someone who has slammed you.  It hurts to trust when betrayal has set in. It hurts to not be cynical when everything in you is screaming to break this or that friendship.

This level of brokenness that is caused by the low-level, soulish, carnal Prophet who thinks he or she can get away with fracturing relationships or creating church splits out of offense.

There is a time and a place for Prophets to tell someone to “get over themselves”, and there is a time and a place for Prophets to NOT BREAK THE BRUISED REED AND NOT EXTINGUISH THE SMOLDERING WICK and to bind up the broken hearts. And that counsel came from the Teacher Isaiah.  The Prophet’s job is to have the spirit to discern when to say “get over yourself” versus when to mend and deal pastorally with the wounded.  That spirit of differentiation is critical

The authority to mend broken hearts comes ONLY from those who walk in intimacy with the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

And there is a dynamic of intimacy and flow between the Prophet and the Exhorter in this place.

The healthy Prophet/Exhorter combination brings with it a high authority to mend broken hearts and to handle community dynamics, but the test for both is to be able to lay aside the low-level reactionary issues.  The Prophet with the fracturing of relationships and the Exhorter with the controlling of relationships.

Your job, Prophet, is to nix that bloody bitterness and offense, and to flow in principles that enable good relationships to flow forth.

THE NEXUS OF THE PROPHET/EXHORTER PAIRING

When the Prophet and Exhorter work well together, and are healthy to a degree, there are two results

1) The deft and smooth expression of new paradigms of the spirit in language of the soul.  These paradigms are critical in the new season in which we find ourselves.

2) The handling of that second level of principles with such a grace and humility that relationships and community flow.

That requires a death of the Prophet’s penchant to break relationships at the first sign of trouble, and also a death of the Exhorter to the temptation of controlling relationships with a silver tongue.  It also requires a death of the Prophet’s desire to stab you with a frontal assault, and the Exhorter’s desire to stab you in the back with slander to other people.

It is possible, but it takes a lot of work in the area of working the principles that govern human relationships.

Prophet + Exhorter + healthy relationships= mending of bodies + koinonia

MY GIFT SET

If I am a Prophet, I am a very relational Prophet.

If I am an Exhorter, I am a very Principle-driven Exhorter.

But all told, at the end of the day, I think I am a Prophet.

But time will tell, eh?

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