Prophet

Why Prophetic Ministry Must Be Tested And Weighed

In a climactic scene of Disney’s “Ratatouille,” the stern food critic Anton Ego experiences a dish that transcends his wildest expectations. Something about the blend of flavors, spices, and seasonings triggers an experience of ecstasy for Anton, transporting him back to his childhood. Anton enters the restaurant to critique, criticize, and objectify, but finds himself caught up in the transcendent art of culinary cuisine. This moment is the climax of the movie; every scene, every piece of dialogue, and every note of the masterful musical score points to this exact moment. The story has been building to this because Anton Ego is the one who will determine if Gusteau’s restaurant remains open or closed. The expectation set by the movie is that Ego has some kind of bone to pick with Gusteau’s and that Anton’s soon-coming hyper-critical review would put the restaurant out of business once and for all.

Much like the expectations of the “Ratatouille” audience, most of us think of critique, criticism, and review as negative or bad things. We envision the angry, jaded, and bitter hurling heavy-handed insults at the sensitive and likely starving musician, performer, or artist. We think of American Idol’s Simon Cowell or Hell’s Kitchen’s Gordon Ramsay discrediting and devaluing someone’s hard work. However, this is not always the case. In fact, the opposite is almost always true. A painting is effectively worthless until it is appraised, a baseball card is just a piece of cardboard until it is graded, and even a restaurant is just a hole in the wall until it knocks the socks off a food critic. The assumption that an evaluation carries negative pretenses may be an assumption that we import into the definition due to the cynicism of our culture.

If we are brave enough to admit it, I think many of us in the charismatic movement carry this ill-founded assumption into the testing of prophecy. We all know that God commands us to test prophetic words (1 Corinthians 14:29; 1 Thessalonians 5:19-22), yet the fear of walking in a critical spirit paralyzes us from walking in obedience to “test all things.” Just like the former example, I think testing prophecy would, in fact, bring value to authentic prophetic ministry rather than devaluing it.

Now you might say to yourself, “God has spoken; His words are invaluable. How can human judgment render value to what is objectively priceless?” (Psalm 12:6). Beloved if you found a long-lost Monet, would you attempt to sell it before or after it was appraised and authenticated? Obviously, you would not have sold it before! Being a Monet makes any piece a priceless masterpiece. However, until it is authenticated as such, the painting would be considered by all an elaborate forgery. But if this piece can be verified, it should be purchased, placed in a museum, and enjoyed by all.

This is why prophetic ministry must be tested and weighed, not to criticize, demean, or degrade the ministry. We must test and weigh prophetic gifts so that the true words of the Lord can be treasured and stored up in our hearts, looked at with great wonder, and enjoyed by all in your church.

In November, I led a prophetic conference in OKC and decided to kick things off differently. Instead of a sermon, I took a page from Jesus’ playbook: show, then tell. I invited a few friends on stage to share prophetic words with our audience, and we made sure to validate these messages publicly by asking questions like “Does this resonate with you?” or “is that true of your circumstance” etc.

One highlight was when my friend singled out a man in the front row, calling him a “protector of women.” He says something like “when I saw you I saw you as a shield to women, God has called you as a protector of women, and God is proud of you”.The crowd was skeptical, finding the message a bit general and a little vague—until the man’s neighbor, who we soon discovered was his wife, started crying really hard. Turns out, he runs a ministry in Thailand rescuing women from sex trafficking. He lives in an impoverished country, sacrificing his livelihood to care for others, and has even adopted a small army of children out of the trade. For someone who had gone through so much pain, sacrifice, and suffering, this “ata boy” was much needed for this precious couple. The revelation stunned everyone, confirming God’s presence was truly with us.

Imagine if my friend had simply shared that word without any follow-up. Certainly, it would have touched the couple, but the rest of us would have missed out on a powerful confirmation. By publicly validating this prophetic word, not only was the man’s calling affirmed, but it also deeply edified many in attendance who had never experienced prophetic ministry. This led to a church now filled with worshipful saints, trusting in a God who speaks directly to His people. The public validation of the prophecy brought more glory to God, more edification to His people, and strengthened our trust that if God can speak to him, He can speak to me as well.

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