Recently I’ve been asked what I think is the significance of the recent passing of a number of leading names in the prophetic world. To name three, we have said goodbye to John Paul Jackson, Bob Jones and Kim Clement. Others, though still with us, suffer health problems that have all but sidelined them. My own father, a long time honored and respected pioneer in prophetic ministry, has been effectively benched, taken from the world stage by failing health and the ravages of advancing age. A distressing number have suffered devastating marriage failures and family breakups. In some cases, we have seen the influence of formerly prominent prophetic leaders diminishing – people whose words we once closely followed. While I’m speaking of developments in the prophetic movement, the same can be said of leadership in the body of Christ in general. What is the significance of all this and what ought we to draw from it?
In 2011 I wrote the following in “Visions of the Coming Days” (published 2012, Chosen Books): A new generation of leadership is emerging to lead a fresh generation of the body of Christ who will shine with His nature. Signs and wonders, power ministry, and healing will follow after those the Lord reveals as those who have come to look like Him, carrying the Father’s heart, but the focus of their lives will not fall on the supernatural. Real holiness and genuine supernatural power flow inside out from godly wholeness that results in the kind of intimacy with God that Jesus spoke of when He said that He and the Father were one. Inner change produces outward action and consistently good fruit.
The transition I foresaw in 2011 now unfolds in the current passing and diminishing of a previous generation of prophetic voices and Christian leaders. While I am not saying that there was anything less than godly in those now fading from the spotlight or in those gone home to glory, nor diminishing the contributions they made to the body of Christ, I am saying there is a different heart in the generation now emerging. These will speak more from humble intimacy with Jesus and from a pastoral heart than from a concern with gifting. Their words will flow more from the heart of the Father than from any felt need to prophesy, build a great ministry or stand on anyone’s stage. More than developing their gifts, they will seek oneness with Jesus and His nature, pursuing rest in relationship with Jesus more than being supernatural. The need to wow the body of Christ and tickle the ears of men will give way to the need to bow before the King of Kings, broken by His love and faithful to His words, regardless of the fallout. As a result, they will release into the people of God a deeper level of life than we have known, as well as a sense of liberty in holiness both life-giving and free of condemnation.
We older ones allowed to remain – some of us perhaps late maturer in matters prophetic, kept hidden by the hand of God until now – inherit a calling to father the coming movement. The heart of a true father desires to see sons and daughters grow into greater things than they themselves could ever attain. Those into whom we sow life and wisdom may therefore carry greater gifting and walk in a higher level of revelation than we who are called to be fathers have known, but so did Elisha exercise a greater level of raw anointing than did his mentor, Elijah. What if the names of this emerging generation become better known than our own? What if their books sell more than ours? What if they stand before thousands as we merely watch and pray? Can we walk in the kind of humility that rejoices to see others gaining notice and recognition for their full grown wisdom and revelation for which we sowed the seeds in hidden places? What if no one ever recognizes that it was us? Will our hearts swell with pleasure and pride in their advancement? Or will old wine skins and un-redeemed elements of character, ambition and insecurity disqualify us and hinder us from delivering the fullness of the treasure God has entrusted to us?
Paradoxically, the higher calling carries us to lower places. In the economy of God, we rise above by coming under, becoming the first by becoming the last. By serving, we rule and reign while we store up an eternal reward in heaven that never fades or dies away.