The enemy is the author of confusion and division. If he can keep the leaders in the Church divided, they will not minister effectively. In the last edition of the newsletter, we addressed the potential problem of apostles and prophets thinking too highly of themselves. However, since pastors usually have the oversight of local churches and assemblies, there is a need for understanding and unity between apostles, prophets, and pastors as well.
At the heart of any strife between apostles, prophets, and pastors is often the need for control usually brought about by personal insecurity. When a pastor has an apostle or prophet in his Church, he must not allow insecurity and intimidation to grip his spirit. If he does, then he will perceive everything the apostle and prophet does as a challenge to his authority. Strife and division will eventually be the result.
Conversely, the apostle or prophet should be careful not to handle situations reserved for the pastor of the Church. The pastor has the responsibility for the souls of the sheep. He also bears the responsibility for the spiritual oversight of the apostles and prophets that are in fellowship with the assembly.
Oftentimes, the enemy causes a war between the pastors and apostles and prophets. The pastors feel intimidated by the manner in which God uses the apostles and prophets; and the apostles and prophets feel that the pastor is against them and does not understand their ministry or accept them as ministers.
Obviously, the need for good, clear channels of communications is very evident and vital. Without good communications there will be confusion and no one will benefit but the kingdom of Satan. Pastors have to resist opposing or fighting apostles and prophets in an attempt to feel that they are in control. Control is not the issue – ministry is. And, apostles and prophets have to learn to be subject to leadership if they expect to have fruitful ministries within a local church.
All of these ministries are needed in the Body of Christ. Pastors cannot devalue the ministries of the apostle and prophet because they are, in some ways, under the covering of their ministries. Pastors need to understand that these ministries are foundational and are an asset to any ministry. Conversely, apostles and prophets cannot feel that they are “above” the pastors because of the authority and anointing upon their lives. Ministries are given to work together in peace. It is with this understanding that apostles, prophets, and pastors have to work together in the local Church or assembly.
This will mean taking (making) the time to understand one another. Two main areas need to be explored and understood. First, the personalities of those fulfilling these three ministries in the same location. Personalities can certainly effect the way ministers are able to work together in unity. However, it is simply necessary to recognize that God has given all of us different personalities and that we need to work at understanding others who may not function, think, or feel the way we do. Afterall, if we were all alike it would be boring. And, if we all thought exactly the same them most of us would be redundant.
Secondly, we need to work together to understand the unique perspective of the three ministry positions. The pastor always sees things through the eyes of the shepherd who wants to lead and guide his or her sheep gently so as not to lose one. The story of Jacob returning to his homeland after 14 years and meeting up with his brother Esau has a tremendous truth in it. As the two brothers are reconciled Esau suggests they move quickly together into the homeland. Jacob states that his brother should go on ahead of him because he must care for the sheep and go as slow as needed so that even one new born lamb would not be lost (Genesis 33:13). Pastors are cautious and caring and often move much more ‘slowly’ then other team members would like.
The prophet will see things from God’s vantage point. He hears from God and sees what “can be” and “should be” with less concern for “what is” than the pastor. He is often somewhat narrow in focus concentrating on what he has seen and what has been revealed to him from the Father. He is focused on obtaining what he has seen and grasped in his spirit. This means he is often seen as very narrow-minded and somewhat unconcerned for the sheep. Where the pastor would lead the sheep, the prophet often seems to be driving them because his focus is on what God wants to achieve and how things should look – not on where things are currently or how the change that is needed may effect God’s people. He can appear very impatient.
The apostle also sees what God wants to accomplish but is not impatient about where the situation is currently. He sees, instead, the need to teach and lay foundations so that the Church can move forward in a healthy way without bringing uncertainty to the sheep as well as allowing the sheep to continue to feel secure. The apostle will work diligently and slowly towards the vision as seen and declared by the prophet. He will teach, counsel, train, equip, and lay foundations so that what God wants can actually be obtained in a healthy manner.
The pastor sees the sheep and then the vision of the Lord. The prophet sees the vision of the Lord and the current situation of the Church. The apostle sees the church as it is and as it must become and builds a bridge between the two.
Because of these, at times, vastly different perspectives we often see much misunderstanding between these three five-fold ministry team members. Therefore, time, effort, and a great deal of love, understanding, and patience is required to make this team function effectively.