“You have the gift of exhortation,” she said. “That’s interesting.” She was trying to be encouraging, but the look of disappointment on her face said it all. I didn’t know what it meant, but I knew it couldn’t be good.
Years later, that gift got a new name: prophet. He had me take an assessment for the five-fold gifts, and the peak on the graph of the results page was undeniable. “Oh!” he said. “I haven’t met many prophets.” He seemed unsure of what to tell me next.
Thankfully the assessment had a definition. “The genius of Prophetic leadership is the ability to discern the spiritual realities in a given situation or community,” writes Alan Hirsch. “He or she is a questioner, freely disturbing the status quo and challenging individuals and organizations to move in a different direction.” Oh, I thought, now I get it.
This truth named something I’d done instinctively my whole life. I’ve always been able to see how what we do today affects tomorrow. I instinctively know where things are headed and how they’ll play out. I’ve always been curious, asking questions about why and how things are done. I’m incredibly passionate about caring for the marginalized and the earth and the people who have been hurt by the church. I am regularly confronted by the gap between the way things are and the way they should be under King Jesus’ reign.
Yet so many times when I share these things, I’m met with resistance and frustration and anger—this truth is often unwelcome. Being able to name this gift was like having my whole world come into focus. It didn’t make things better—honestly, it made me wonder why God gave me a gift that frustrated so many. As a result, I tried to downplay this gift, and hide it away as much as possible.
But so many injustices in our world are caused by systems that have been in place for generations, that have never been deeply examined, that most of us continue without ever considering the impact. These systems need prophets to examine them, ask questions, and point out how they hurt our world.
A few years ago, I was called to do just this—but it was with a system I’d grown to love. And then I realized just how much that particular system pained the heart of God, and I was compelled to do something to help change it, which meant confronting key leaders. It didn’t go well. I felt like I’d lost everything—my community, my safe place, my reputation. I cried for days.
Months later, as the dust began to settle, and I wondered whether it had been worth it, I met with a friend who is gifted in deeply seeing and naming people. He looked me in the eyes and said, “You are a truth-teller. And if there’s one thing Jesus is about, it’s truth. We need more truth-tellers like you.”
His words spoke freedom to my soul. God is all about truth—he is truth! To be a truth-teller is to be about God and his heart (John 8:32).
As I realized this truth, I understood in a new way that this gift truly was good and needed. I recognized that my responsibility was simply to obey God—to speak the truth that he laid on my heart, in the way he showed me, at the time he prompted me. I couldn’t (and shouldn’t try) to control the outcome. In that moment, a new sense of freedom washed over me, and a weight lifted. I’m called to be a truth-teller. And that means obeying God regardless of the outcome. There’s amazing freedom in being the person God has created us to be. I don’t try to hide my gift anymore, and that’s a beautiful thing.
“Grow” by The Oh Hellos
If you have any dietary restrictions, you know how un-inclusive our menus typically are. I consider cooking inclusive recipes a subtle truth-telling, a subversive way of including people. I like to find recipes that are naturally gluten-free, vegetarian, and dairy-free that are big pleasers so I’m not dealing with tricky ingredients. This recipe is wildly delicious, easy, and inclusive. (Don’t forget to use gluten-free soy sauce!) If you want to include meat on the side, make a little extra marinade to marinate chopped up chicken. Then cook it on the stovetop while you broil the veggies.
You are the Truth, and that includes the truth about who you’ve made us to be. Help us to fully embrace that truth, learn to love the gifts you’ve given us, and develop in stewarding those gifts. Make us brave for those moments when we need to speak the truth. Make us good listeners for those moments that others speak truth to us. Help us fall in love with your truth, in every form that it comes. Amen.
Journal about your relationship with truth-telling. Does it fill you with dread? Relief? Wonder? When have you backed down from telling the truth? When you have you rushed in with the truth unwisely? Do you use the truth as a weapon or as a balm? Have others used the truth as a weapon or as a balm with you? Pay attention this week to how God prompts you to share the truth and your response to this prompting.
Contact: Amy Jackson / @amykjackson / www.amykjackson.com