We know that we are different in the way we think, process, reconcile, feel about change, regard the old, regard the new. We know some of us are cautious and some bold, and we want to be both balance and blessing to each other, but at times the pioneers don't like the settlers and the followers don't like the leaders and the "truth" people annoy the "compassionate" and so on and so on. At the job, in the home, at the church, in the family, we desperately need understanding.
So, we will begin with the observable characteristics of each of the seven gifts. These are behavioral characteristics of the personality, meant only to identify the gift. It is only the beginning.
Where did these lists come from? From diligent students of man and the Bible and teams who did research in both the Bible and with individuals to determine similar behavaioral characteristics.
I will do a little explanation after each characteristic as we go. I have been both student and teacher, and even writer, regarding this material. It has been my passion and the great revelation of my life. I say that because I have been using this and studying this for fifteen years, and I never tire of it or cease seeing its immense potential.
You may immediately recognize yourself, or you may need to study all the characteristics and take awhile to determine your own gift. Take as long as you need. You won't change your design by picking one quickly, and if you are not right, you may waste some time trying to be someone you are not.
The race doesn't go to the swift but to the one who will go deepest and widest and determines to get everything there is to be had from this teaching. It is helpful in relationships, in marriage, in parenting, at work, and in life in general.
The first in the list when they are mentioned in the Bible, is the gift of prophet. The redemptive gift of prophet is different from the office of prophet or the spiritual gift of prophesying. It, remember, is about design.
1. A prophet tends to think in black and white and then judge a thing as right and wrong. He is quick to decide because he processes quickly. He also speaks quickly. Remember Peter? He "blurted out" or "jumped out" or "cut off" because he was quick to do something. He usually spoke first, and his impulsiveness was sometimes "right on the money" and sometimes it was not, (as in the sorrowful episode of the ear in the garden.)
2. So, the prophet redemptive gift often behaves impulsively. It is very difficult for the prophet not to judge things and people. Even without Biblical principles, a redemptive prophet will judge things according to an internal belief system of what is right and wrong. Opinions about right and wrong are not necessarily a delight to others, but the prophet does it naturally. It is because truth weights heavily on him and because truth sets us free in every aspect of life. He fears deception and its consequences for himself and others.
3. A prophet is driven by ideology. A prophet usually decides what he believes and then acts accordingly. If he is a believer, he wants to know the "mind" of God. He is driven by principle, not relationally driven as are most of the other gifts. By that, we mean that he doesn't think about how his truth might come across or hurt others, or he may learn to speak the truth in love in time, but the truth is "love" to him in that he sees the consequences looming large. It is meant to help, to change a person or a heart, to reform, not to hurt. The prophet often doesn't understand why others don't regard hearing the truth as highly as he does, or why they would reject his "truth." Even when his delivery is poor and his intensity is high, he is trying to express truth.
4. He will walk away from relationships if there is a principle involved that he will not compromise. He is meant to hold to an standard of excellence and stand for truth, but in his finest hour, he is also meant to be a peacemaker, not a divider. Finding solutions is an ongoing pursuit, and not an easy journey.
5.This makes him an asset in seeing patterns and principles, but he can become so committed to the "Truth" that he is unable to maintain the relationships to have the voice that is needed to influence and change things around him. That is his journey. Arriving in a place of forgiveness, truth, and love is his destination.
6. A prophet likes change and to fix things. Jesus fixed things. He fixed broken people, and a prophet loves to fix broken things. He is drawn to broken things, and he is energized by coming up with solutions to problems.
7. He does not like to maintain and keep it going, just come in and make it bigger or better. Don't ever hand him something that is working and ask him to keep it going. He has no regard for the status quo and he doesn't maintain well.
8.He is a trail blazer, a visionary, a person who belives there is always a better way. The "better way" is meant to expediate change and enable others to achieve what they need to achieve. He doesn't mind bulldozing the status quo to bring about positive change.
4. A prophet sees design and looks for patterns. Who was the first person to figure out that Jesus was the Son of God of the disciples? Peter. Who was the forerunner who prophesied that Jesus was the Lamb of God who took away the sins of the world? John the Baptist. The prophet is analyzing all the time and processing conclusions. He may be first to see the pattern and the consequences becaue he thinks analytically and can reason from the abstract.
5. A prophet is bold, fearless, a risk taker who seems to have faith come to him easily. Peter jumped in the water without thinking; he was made bold by seeing Jesus doing the same. He was willing to take the risk to go out and meet him. That is the impulsiveness of the prophet who can risk quickly. Elijah called down fire and faced down the prophets of Baal. Combining principles which they see quickly and their ability to take risks, means the prophet can be a major source of faith and passion, inspiring others with his beliefs. The fact that he is less relational can free him to speak the truth, but learning to relate to others will make his message have greater impact and gain him an audience who listens.
6. A redemptive prophet is very opinionated and verbal expressive. He may be the first to speak in a situation as he is able to process faster than others. He usually likes to process out loud and can be very inspirational when he speaks.
7. A prophet needs an objective to live; a reason and a purpose. He cannot abide not having an objective and will often quit if he fails to see one. He is constantly in fear that he may become disqualified from completing his purpose. When he is mature, he desperately wants others to achieve their purposes too. He is fulfilled by helping others achieve their destinies.
8. He is independent. The prophet is not needy and doesn't like to be. If he is a position of weakness, he may become despairing and lose hope. Think about John the Baptist who had been certain that Jesus was the Son of God, but when he landed in a jail cell lost hope to the point where he was willing to question his own declaration that Jesus was the son of God. The prophet thrives when he is full of faith; when he feels he knows what is right and navigates by that star.
9. He can change his mind in a heartbeat and go a different direction. Back to John the Baptist. Because a prophet thinks and builds upon principle, John was ready to rethink everything if the bottom line wasn't true. If Jesus was God, why was he in jail? When Jesus assured him that he had been right, then John's next conclusion was that he would have to decrease as Jesus increased. That is impressive reasoning, for a man in jail, facing death, without any knowledge of what his part was meant to be.
The prophet works from a principle forward and backward to stand in truth. If his truth is enlarged or changed, then he is willing to knock the structure down and rebuild. A prophet is very concerned that things be built on truth, but that truth not become a sacred cow or a method. John the Baptist did not at first see that he had to decrease, but as soon as he recognized the truth of it, he accepted it in faith as right.
10. A prophet is generous. He can be more generous than a giver because he does everything with passion and can be extreme. Emotion and impulse often guide him in acts of generosity.
11. His favorite question is "Why?" He wants to know the mind of God. Think of the chapters written by the Old Testament prophets like Jeremiah trying to figure it out. What does it mean? Where do we go from here? A prophet who comes to rest in God's sovereignity in certain situations has come a long way. And it is certainly important to read through the lines and know what God is saying.
12. He is extremely hard on himself. Remember Jonah? Elijah in the cave? Peter after the betrayal? He judges himself harder than anyone else could judge him and condemnation is a quagmire he must fight against. His ideologly demands absolutes from him and excellence and perfection may drive him into a pit of despair, especially if things don't turn out as he had hoped. Think Jonah. Because he is black and white and relies on faith and hearing, he is intially mystified by failure.
13. He is not sentimental about the past or relationships. When he moves on, he usually leaves the past behind. Naomi was a prophet. She had to come back home both widowed and broken, but she did not sneak into town through the back door. She cried with a loud voice as she came back announcing her ruin and return. A prophet has a compulsive honesty and transparency. Anything else may feel like overt deception to him.
14. He is driven to excellence. The prophet has a very high standard of performance that he holds himself and others do. He always is searching for a better way and seeking to make things more efficent and purposeful.
15. A redemptive prophet is concerned with the "wages of sin" or the disastrous effects of wrong behavior. He wants to warn people where certain paths might lead and is concerned about consequences for certain actions. If he is a Christian, he will have a very pronounced understanding of the consequences of sin. Even an unbeliever with this redemptive gift might sound the alarm, point out the weakness, kick the tire.
16. A prophet can appear arrogant to others since he is usually certain he is right. Because he is ideologically driven, he adds quickly to determine if one and one are two, and if he decides it is, he is almost impossible to dissuade.
17. A prophet also may refuse to compromise, leaving destruction of relationships in his wake.
Remember that a redemptive prophet is not the same as the office of prophet. A person can have these characterisitcs as the redemptive gift, but hold a different office such as teacher, apostle, evangelist, and so on. The redemptive prophet is able to predict the future by using principles from the Bible: such as sowing and reaping. He does not need to prophesy at all, but he can see the end of the path through principles. He can look at a situation and realize quickly that what is being sown, in the way of bad seed, will ultimately produce a bitter harvest. On the other hand, he is also able to have faith when he believes he understands a principle that will reap a good harvest.
Also, first born children will automatically have a lot of the characteristics of the prophet merely because they are first born. For instance, first borns are usually prone to excellence, black and white, and probably harder on themselves because their parents spent more energy seeing that they got every thing "right." So if you are first born, you may exhibit some of these characteristics because of that. But if you are truly first born and a prophet, the characteristics will be heightened because you are both.
Some of the redemptive prophets in the Bible are Peter, Naomi, and Elijah. It is easy for us to see their mood swings, their honesty, and their boldness at times and despair at others. They are both quick to risk, and quick to process and declare faith.
A redemptive prophet's primary principle is that of design. He thinks analytically, going beneath the surface to comprehend the meaning of events or problems. With his armory of principles and his desire to make things better, he can be a powerful force of change. He can also be innovative, creative, and able to see a better way.
A redemptive prophet can go to scripture and weave together principles in order to solve problems.