I haven’t finished my research on being a prophetic people yet, but I am completely convinced that the first step towards embracing the role of prophet is being grounded in our own giftedness. Understanding who we are, our own talents and skills – not in a way that boosts our egos or as social status, but recognition of ourselves as blessed uniquely within our community, and ourselves as blessing to the community. I get tired of the forced humility in our society that tells us we can’t acknowledge our own strengths, because it would be arrogance or boasting. Because if we’re living in community we all have a role to play, and we need to be able to confidently contribute.
To be confident in our own giftedness does require some work in exploring what those areas of gifts, talents and skills are. One thing to do on your own is the Gifts Discovery Questionnaire. It’s a simple survey, attempting to cover a long list of spiritual gifts. Not only is this a good first step in identifying your own gifts, but also looking at the gifts that you feel your ministry could benefit from learning. If you take this survey in conjunction with your community, you could use the results to create ministry partnerships, mentor relationships, etc. The one caveat I would put on taking this questionnaire is that taking it once is not enough. Our gifts and our call changes. Taking this survey once and assuming the answers will be true for the rest of your life is inaccurate and does yourself a disservice. I’ve taken it three times, and had different results each time – because each time I was in a different phase of my life and my ministry. Another way to learn about our own giftedness is to ask the community. I love affirmation circles, and they’re a great tool for people to share with one another the ways in which they see each other’s ministry at work.
To be confident in our own giftedness also requires practicing self-acceptance and self-compassion. And I say ‘practice’ because it’s hard work that takes personal effort. There are parts of ourselves that don’t measure up to standards. Society tells us we then need to change ourselves to meet the standards. Perhaps, instead, we change the standards. If we know the areas in which we can grow and flourish, because we have the solid foundation of knowing our gifts, skills and talents, we can create our own standard by which to measure and accept ourselves. Being our best self is a better standard than trying to reach someone else’s best. And for those moments when we can’t reach those standards, when we stumble, when we make mistakes, when we make the wrong choices – we practice self-compassion. We offer ourselves grace and forgiveness, because we are a child of God. If it’s a mistake you would forgive in someone else, you also must learn to forgive in yourself. Self-acceptance and self-compassion are not just about our thoughts or spirits. It’s also about our bodies. Our prophetic message of truth must be transmitted through our bodies – acts, speech, words written, smiles, hugs, giving, marching. We cannot be prophets without physical expression. Whatever gifts or limitations our bodies have, they are part of our identity as prophets.
And all of these are radical acts of self-love.
Do you take into consideration your own wants, needs and happiness? I think there’s this idea out in the universe that a prophet must give up everything in life except their calling to speak their truth – which maybe is why we resist the role of prophet. I’m sorry, but I will never be John the Baptist. However, I don’t think I’m supposed to be. I’m supposed to be me. If God created me, and calls me to be my best self, then the truth I’m called to speak must be part of who I am. A prophet is called to speak truth – that truth comes out of who the prophet is, at their core. A prophet cannot share their message and deny themselves. A prophet must be rooted in their own sense of self, calling, giftedness, and mission. A prophet must first love and accept themselves before finding the strength/assurance/voice to share their prophetic message to the world. We must practice self-love to find our role as a prophetic people.
When my daughter was in fifth grade, it was a dynamic year for her. There were so many ways in which she really shined in and outside of school. I think it all started with a teacher who made this song, “This Is Me,” the class’s theme song for the school year. Every student knew all the words to that song by heart. They discussed what the lyrics mean, and what it meant to them. It manifested in varying ways during the school year – decorations, assignments, bgm, presentations, etc. I chose the above video to include in the post because it gives some of the back story of how uncomfortable the singer, Keala Settle, was with performing the song. No one starts ready to declare, “This is me!” Even though she performs so confidently in the film, it was a process for her to find her place with this song – to believe the words she had to sing.
Everything starts with ourselves, which is why I think self-love is important on our prophetic journey. If I’m called to value the worth of all persons, I cannot devalue myself. Let’s start our path towards being a prophetic people by learning to love ourselves.