A few years ago, I heard a statement by a denominational leader. It went like this, “we have stopped using our prophetic voice”. It was in reference to that specific denominational leadership no longer calling out or calling up the people it served and therefore, the people were running amok.
The prophetic voice is a voice of one calling God’s people to return to God’s ways. It’s a thankless job (just read the book of Ezekiel or Jeremiah) but it’s a necessary one. eaders, like it or not, have a prophetic voice. They have the opportunity to call out and call up people to do God’s work and to live Godly lives. The question is, do they use it?
It’s a basic principle of leadership to be able to say the hard things, but why is this so hard to do?
Three reasons we don’t say hard things
- We want people to like us. For most of us, our primary need is to be liked. Most people can’t go too long knowing that someone out there doesn’t like them. We may not say this out loud, but the truth is that leaders like to be liked.
- We don’t have the time. When we look at possibly calling out or calling up someone, we know that there is going to be an investment of time. We know that it’s going to require us to spend additional time with that individual to encourage, train, or inform them. It’s a lot quicker to ignore than confront.
- We have the wrong idea on how to use the prophetic voice. We think that in order to use that voice, we need to be at a pulpit or call a meeting. We’ve forgotten that continuous coaching and encouragement can be the necessary tool to call someone out or up. We’ve also failed to use systems to help us achieve the same result. Creating a culture that’s built on achieving a vision is another way to speak prophetically to a group of people.
And so, we tend to carry on with our ministry without using the prophetic voice we’ve been given. We ignore when we should confront; we hide when we should face the truth; we acquiesce when we should push back. And this is me giving you permission to be a bully, this is simply me saying that, as a leader, you need to use your prophetic voice to call the people you lead out and up.
Five ways you can use your prophetic voice
- Discover their destiny and remind them of it. When you lead people, you don’t just have a group of people that come to your meetings, you have a group of people who have a God-given destiny, it’s your job to help them discover and live towards it. When you connect with your people, ask them questions like “what would you like to be remembered for?” or “if you could do anything in the world for God, what would it be?” Then, as they begin to identify it, call them to it every chance you get. Remind them of it. Pray for that over them. And resource them along the way.
- Don’t tolerate bad behavior. Coming late, not being prepared, making fun of other people. It’s simple. Don’t allow that behavior to continue. Whenever you see bad behavior, take that person aside and lovingly correct them. You don’t have to condemn them, but you can say things like, “man, we really need you to follow through on your commitments because we all depend on you … what will it take for you to do be able to do that next time?? Then, you help them. Don’t just reprimand and walk away. Be determined to work with them. Remember, the behavior you tolerate becomes the norm.
- Set a God-Sized vision for your ministry. Don’t let your vision simply be to “get together weekly and study the bible” … make it something bigger than that. Call people to a bigger vision and set out for them something exciting to belong to. A vision is achievable, measurable, memorable, and inspiring. When you look at your men’s ministry vision, would you say it’s all those things? If not, change it. Remember, a vision sets a clear direction. Where are you going? Where do you want to see the men you lead go? Set it and call them to it every chance you get.
- Be a coach not a program leader. Sometimes, we tend to get the idea that we’re a teacher or a program leader or a bible study leader. The truth is, you’re a coach. In the church world, the best type of leaders are coaches. People who are constantly helping their people to get better in all aspects of their lives. Coaches are observers. Coaches ask good questions. Coaches help people think it’s possible and then give them the tools to make it happen. If you think of yourself as a coach, you’ll be doing the right things to help your people.
- Ask questions before making statements. This seems contradictory to “using your prophetic voice” but hear me out. You don’t need to tell people what to do, you can simply ask them questions and help them come to the right conclusions. We often think that we need to point things out, but we can simply ask questions, looking to understand. That helps people figure things out on their own surprisingly often. Questions like, “tell me why you thought that was a good idea” or “how is that working out for you?” or “what do you think Jesus would say to you about this?” These are all questions that help the individual measure their thoughts and actions with the word of God. It’s a great method to allow God to speak through you.
Leaders, don’t just run programs or plan events. Lead. Speak into the lives of the people you lead. Call them out and up to a higher place in their walk with the Lord. Be an encourager and a coach. Use your prophetic voice.