The Problem of a Missional Prophet

ezekielJesus said, “There is no Prophet who is despised except in his city and among his kindred and in his house.” (Mark 6:4) Aramaic Bible in Plain English (©2010)  The New American Standard Bible puts it this way:

A prophet is not without honor except in his hometown and among his own relatives and in his own household.”

Sure, “Missional” is a buzzword and admittedly is trendy and slightly hipsterish.  This however, does not negate the import of being missionary-ish wherever the Lord has you.  It is not radical to be on mission with God.  In fact, it’s quite normal, or I should say quite supernaturally normal.  Being a missionary in the traditional sense, my focus has been transferred to a place “across the borders.” For me, being a missional missionary is neither redundant or contradictory.  Being missional or “living as sent” where I am does not depend on location or destination, but on intention.  To become self-aware of my sent-ness, for me, is to be truly sentient.

There is a problem though.  If being missional is living as sent wherever you are, i.e., the city, the mountains, the suburbs, etc., then what about the missional Prophet?  If Prophetic leadership’s main concern is to further the mission of God’s people and communities and to sense of the mind of God on issues concerning growth and transformation, then:

How does one live as sent if there’s no honor to be had in their own sphere of influence?  

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    1. Looking at the questions–having read through twice–I can only respond in the most basic way from my heart:

      If the Lord has told us, then we know it is true and this is what we should expect and when it comes accept it as the way of the world. We are no greater than our Master, Christ Jesus, who also endured without honor from His own during the time of His ministry on Earth.

      (Is the bottom line not that all glory is to God and that the mission be accomplished?)

      Is our motive in living missional lives, where ever one may be, to receive honor from men? Is approval from God not enough? Perhaps I have misunderstood what was written above. Living in loving obedience to the Lord’s commands is basic which means that anything outside of that is then what?

      We may live missional lives throughout our lifetime and never see or possibly never realize the fruit of our “labor” (which is still initiated, powered and equipped from Heaven and not on our own). Still we have the joy of and privilege of being able to serve WITH God in “co-mission” extending His love throughout the world–near or far, making disciple.

      • Hope,

        You raise an interesting point and one that I had assumed would not be an issue. I consider it a given that man’s purpose is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever. I do not equate “honor” with approval from men. For the purposes of this post, I would lean more towards not honoring God’s message via the prophet. It is not a strange situation. Isaiah was sent and veritably told that no one would listen to him.

        You’re right, we may never see the fruit of our labor. I know of more than a few missionaries and other Kingdom workers that have labored long and passed on only to have the next generation reap the harvest. Theoretically, one shouldn’t be any less content than the other, but we remain human.

    2. Might Jesus’ comment, Miguel, been with referdnce to his hometown, Nazareth not everywhere He was being missional?

      If I’m correct, then a missional Prophet would be wise to leave her/his hometown to be missional, if not a Missionary, where folks will honour him/her so they msy be most useful to The King!

      • Gary,

        In a round about way you’ve gotten to the heart of the matter. A Prophet is less likely to be a missional fixture where he or she lives. There will always be a transitory element to the mission of a prophet, apostle, and evangelist. I’m not saying that they can’t stay put or shouldn’t, but I think it’s more likely that they do for a season. Thanks for commenting.

    3. If we could gain honor in the place we would most desire it, would we ever minister to those “outside”? Would we seek to have influence and honor in order to gratify ourselves (even when we don’t see it as selfish, so much as it would be healing to finally have approval of those from whom we have most desired to be approved)?

      Those in the congregation I basically grew up in think I’m a heretic at best, at least one person thinks I am mentally unstable and she’s not shy about telling people. When I arrived at our new church home, I never expected anyone to think much of me. I can’t begin to tell you how weird it is to be contributing to ladies’ Bible study, leading small groups, having leadership opportunities. Part of it is a radical shift in theology from one congregation to the other.

      If the first congregation had approved of me, I might have never been willing to see that I wanted their approval more than God’s. I, in some ways, equated their approval with God’s. And, if I’m honest, their condemnation still stings more than I’d like.

      • Amy,

        This post is not about getting honor, but I can see how you and others might think along those lines. The point you raise I talk about in my book and that is inreach vs outreach. A prophet is less likely to reach in to their native communities and more likely to reach out into others. Thanks for sharing from your experience. Ultimately, it’s more impactful and meaningful.

    4. Miguel,

      You talk of Prophetic leadership. I am curious as to why you connect the prophetic gift with leadership? Are only leaders able to operate in that gift?

      Just curious.


      • Carlos,

        It might help If i reversed it to show my intention. How about “Leadership that’s Prophetic?” I do not hold that only leaders operate in that gifting or with those characteristics. But the truth is that some lead and some do not. Some lead the way and others follow.

        In our context, we do something a bit strange. When we enter into a community, we (a small mission oriented group) we assess, to the best of our ability, what that community needs most spiritually. We then create ministry teams like apostle/prophet, evangelist/teacher, pastor/apostle etc. Then they lead the way in establishing a Gospel presence there. Those ministry teams look different and are temporary until members of the community can fulfill those roles for themselves.

        It’s worked very well for us. More than 11 generations of disciples made in 27 communities in 3 years.

    5. All good comments…but I’m thinking of the prophet Ezekiel … No honor… Little recognition… Yet he stood by the word given… Lived where sent

    6. I think that familiarity often breeds contempt, especially when one matures or grows into a gifting or calling. Those who knew that individual before their anointing by God was made manifest will often reject the new authority due to their familiarity with the old. Thus the people who knew Jesus the longest were offended by Him, “Is this not the carpenter’s son?”

      Most of us (for example) have given counsel to friends or relatives that they initially reject, only to be accepted later on from an outside source with the friend thinking it was the very first time they ever heard that wonderful advice. Parents should immediately know whereof I speak.

      I don’t think Jesus was stating in Mark 6 that prophets (or any other Christian) necessarily need move out and on to be effective in their calling. I believe He was just commenting on the situation at hand when He faced this unbelief.

    7. I wouldn’t stretch the meaning of what jesus said. He is not categorically saying honor or recognition or acceptance in a prophets home town is impossible. He’s generalizing and applying it to that particular situation.
      Honor may be unlikely yet still possible. Sometimes only after some time away.
      Even within a home town/locale there will be those who are open, the prophet may gravitate towards them initially.
      Jesus still healed some sick there.
      Interesting the passage seems to make a connection between the honor statement and miracles/healings.

    8. I also see this as a warning against our own pride. As a son of the South (Southeastern USA) who spent his formative years from the mid-70s to the mid-80s, I remember some amazing youth camp/conference experiences. And I also remember coming back home and having family members and fellow church members make up the “cold water committee” to make sure that I came down from the mountain to reality in record time.

      What I took away from those experiences was a self-righteous martyrdom complex (“those folks are missing the boat! Why do they always trying to harsh my Spirit filled mellow?”). What I should have taken away from it was that the folks at home knew me from my time at home and they were not interested in hearing how this punky little know it all come back and lecture them on what they’re missing out on.

      Hard lesson. But a good one. I mostly remember it. :)

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