Even our best prophets tend to lean into the wind with an overt individualism.
Allow me to quote myself, “The greatest test of a prophet may not be about the depth, detail, or development of his or her prophetic communication. The greatest test of a prophet may be his or her capacity to function in company.” The challenge of freedom does not meet overcoming victory in isolated integrity, personal purity and maturity: the measure of the prophet must begin with those he or she is leading, for the prophet in the kingdom is now more a leader than a performer of prophetic proclamation.
By overt individualism we mean the opposite of kingdom liberty, or better said, “the opposite pole of reference for producing and maintaining personal liberty.” Where the individual is set free, but fails to make the individual a sacrifice to a corporate culture, the very foundations of a free society fail. Even wicked people need to live by the culture of a free society if they expect that society to remain free.
In the kingdom, the culture of the kingdom produces the freedom to remain true to personal purpose. Without it, the kingdom breaks down into fragments of partisanship, schisms we now refer to as “networks” or “movements,” which would be wholesome and healthy if they were founded upon kingdom culture shared by all elements of the kingdom. Instead, the very separateness of these factions lies in their subcultures.
We now have ontological individualism at the expense of kingdom culture.
What happens when “the prophet” is with other people?
The absense of kingdom culture can be seen in these present day conditions:
First, even our “best prophets” hit a brick wall in terms of relationship with most people; they are our “best prophets” simply because they maintain integrity to the assignment and the message of that assignment. Most people cannot bear that integrity because the message and the integrity itself slaps them in the face.
Second, our “best prophets” usually make that list for a variety of reasons that have little to do with the measure of a New Testament kingdom leader. We manufacture heroes on the “wow” factor as if “American Idol” is the model for identifying champions. “Doing the stuff” at a higher level titillates our fancies. Being a leader does not. Prophetically speaking, the “step on stage and perform at a high level” prophet gets the bonus money while the prophetic leader loses his or her head.
Third, at present, we are madly in love with opportunists.
Fourth, overt individualism is the mark of John the Baptist, Elijah with hairy legs, and Jonah vomited into his destiny. All three of these individualists finished the task, but only one finally stepped into his life’s work and finished well, but even Elijah had to run into a brick wall before accepting his best pathway forward to maturity. Overt individualism may be the mark of many of our “best prophets,” but overt individualism is not the mark of the best in prophetic leadership. That is, we need a rather dramatic shift in emphasis as it relates to what is highest and best.
Fifth, the reason overt individualism in the prophets is such a dire circumstance relates to the fact that overt individualism in apostle is much worse! So, the foundations for kingdom leadership require a near-total scrubbing in favor of a more Biblical mindset and practicum. Our leaders cannot be wallowing in overt individualism if we expect to produce kingdom culture!
Let the scathing begin with me, Lord!
Isolationism as Opportunistic Self-rule
The enemy of kingdom leadership dynamics is exaggerations of individualism. Accumulations of isolated individuals does not a kingdom make. Having a billion isolated individuals on God’s side to influence nations will result in greater chaos and fragmentation of a nearly fatal fragmentation already at work.
The cult of “identity in Christ” instead of “identity from Christ” becomes the justification for opportunistic self-rule. Any identity that requires individualism reign supremely at the expense of the kingdom avoids the Cross as the point and place of accountability for purpose: to produce purpose, we must make our identity a sacrifice! [See Romans 12:1-2]
Globalism makes sense to moderns for this very reason: fragmentation is fatal. Anyone can rightly conclude that a world so fragmented that every person is at odds with every person will experience greater and greater chaos and entropy of civilization. They will look for a saving tyranny to bring order to the anarchy of individualism.
We suffer no such despair. We already have a King who has been given all authority in heaven, earth, and wherever else authority exists. We already have the Uniting Factor by which culture that unites all produces purpose, and produces purpose both personal and corporate at no expense one to the other.
The connection points of a world influenced by God are only available through kingdom. A world filled with born again people, in the present spiritual conditions, absent kingdom culture, would not produce a kingdom of heaven on earth. Again, “the connections point of a world influence by God are only available through kingdom.”
I would suggest the most immature way to look at prophetic function is “a parade of people who can do the stuff.” Following up with the second tier of childish behavior now seen worthy of ribbons and awards, the “we all pile on” method of prophetic discourse that attempts to obligate God to do what we have all decided would be pretty cool for God to do. After that, in bright spots of noonday brilliance, our “best prophets” step up to the mic and pierce through with Truth. No one entertains the most obvious of all Bible expectations: that the kingdom of heaven will operate on the earth based upon foundational leaders with blueprints for construction, apostles and prophets.
Reaching this conclusion doesn’t mean we put the back of our hands on our foreheads and fall backwards on a fainting couch, asking for a glass of water. Reaching this conclusion reveals how very near we are to the most important breakthrough of human history since the day of Pentecost! We wouldn’t be having this conversation at all were it not true that we are the generation of fullness!
Prophets operating without a context of kingdom culture are opportunists. Just try a five minute foray into kingdom culture anticipation: prophesy about something behaviorally consistent with the lifestyle of Jesus. Prepare to be stoned with rocks (not on drugs), skinned alive with sanctimonious knife blades of “grace”, and poked in the eye with heated iron for talking about the Law.
Just mention something in passing about sexual purity, and the Millenials will drop their popcorn on the floor. Just mention that gossip is murder, and the hen’s club will lay eggs loudly in the center aisle. Just mention that dresssing like a whore for your Facebook photo might not represent Christ, and the “if you got it flaunt it, worship in yoga pants” brigade will turn the music so loudly they can’t hear you.
On the other hand, call all the same to the personal prophecy line and get the rhythm of “you shall be blessed” and “you are unconditionally loved” into your delivery style! The stampede will begin! The FB posts will be blazing wiht glory and revival with claims of orbs of lights, angelic trumpets, and visitations from and in the realms filling the room.
Prophets are decidely dysfunctional without kingdom culture. Suggest that the Great Commission actually contain the word, “what I commanded you, command others,” and you will be handed a “self-destruct immediately” packet by the ruling elders.
Kingdom Habits of the Heart
We have a comglomerate of subcultures without a kingdom culture. We require several weeks of learning the subculture code of “laid down this and that” and “more fire for me, Lord” and “our definition of revival, not their’s.” Yet, we still have apartment rooms filled with young intercessors engaging in sexual intimacy between sets, people with financial fraud hopping for state to state to avoid paying their bills so they can still prophesy in public, wolf relocation services offered by apostolic ministries restoring wolves with sore mouths or bullet wounds for authentic leaders, and a general celebration of indecency called “charismatic Woodstock” at the expense of principle, process, and protocol.
We need to restore Kingdom culture before we even start talking about kingdom come and kingdom conquest!
We begin by restoring kingdom culture. That culture will demand apostolic order. Those two kingdom realities will bring apostles and prophets to foundational leadership function. Although we have documented the restoration of apostles and prophets – though we can never properly say they were lost to us entirely – apostles and prophets do not now function at the foundational levels of leadership.
We lack kingdom culture and apostolic order. We have always had apostles and prophets but they have not functioned foundationally. Now that we are more likely to follow these leadership dynamics, the entire culture must be rebuilt ground up to respond properly to them.
As that happens, all apostles and prophets must die to overt individualism yet maintain unique redemptive identities they receive from Jesus. They must be willing to function in that culture in company and council because the set of blueprints they possess from Christ demands an overlap blending of construction. (Notice I didn’t use the word “community” but culture, company, and council. I will not be using the word community until I can use the word culture for a very important reason.)
Within the scope and measure of assignment, kingdom leaders do have idiosyncratic uniqueness that is as important to them and all of us as Creation itself. However, whatever keeps that uniqueness from becoming a sacrifice to a greater kingdom purpose must die to be resurrected in “life that does not run out of life.” Our problem isn’t that we lack greater leadership but that we attempt to lead in isolated, overt individualism. Our greatest leaders scamper about in dead end detours because their own individualism leavens the entire kingdom with overt individualism.
In conclusion of this discussion, prophets are kingdom leaders with foundational leadership function. The prophet who desires maturity in function must produce a culture in which to function because that culture no longer presents itself for leadership. That culture demands the death of overt individualism as a habit of the heart, and prophets with integrity must turn from opportunitistic motivations, seek out the apostolic and prophetic overlaps in the kingdom, and measure their maturity in the maturity of those they lead more than the maturity they measure within themselves.
An apostolic order will allow for a prophetic order. At present, our best prophets can prophesy anything they wish to applause and open-mouthed wonder as the crowds high five with “it’s our turn now!” but no one says a word about the fact that so few of the words of the Lord actually happen. When someone says, “Trump!” three times and he wins the election, we are suddenly convinced we have reached a mountain peak and crow about the town like drunken sailors, each clamoring to be certain everyone knows who spoke that word (that someone else prophesied years before.) We remain overtly individualistic and opportunistic, hoping that hitting upon a really good outcome that can be repeated in social media will validate us.
We do not need validation from this source! We need validation from our leadership! Seek validation because the intercessors of your house hear God, not because you finally hit a home run because the pitcher hung his curve! That is not the foundation stone of the prophetic, the big word in the big moment, prophets functioning in the culture mores of this present world measure greatness with the cloth of flesh.