Once a false prophet has secured a means whereby they may begin to gain influence, and often before this, they will make use of flattery to build rapport with key individuals.
A lying tongue hateth those that are afflicted by it; and a flattering mouth worketh ruin. (Proverbs 26:28)
False prophets usually hate the people they are seeking to manipulate, and no matter how harmless their flattery might be, the Bible says it works ruin. A compliment is sincere and unselfish admiration or appreciation, whereas flattery is insincere, and done with the intention of selfish gain. The flatterer wants something. Just by engaging in flatter, this person is sinning (Psalm 5:9, 78:36, Proverbs 29:5, e.g.). We are in fact warned not to involve ourselves with those who use flattery! (Proverbs 20:19)
False prophets, particularly in the early stages of acquiring influence, tend to lavish praise on people, seeming to be impressed by even things which may really be quite ordinary. Let’s face it, most of us like a good compliment, and since many who occupy positions of influence or leadership in churches and other faith communities also harbor secret (or not so secret) insecurities, the false prophet can easily gain their confidence by appearing to be an admirer or even a fan. This vulnerability to seduction is made worse by a tendency of insecure leaders to surround themselves with people who feed their ego and do not challenge their ideas or decisions. In contrast to this, Scripture tells us:
Without counsel purposes are disappointed: but in the multitude of counsellors they are established. (Proverbs 15:22)
Someone who always agrees with you is not a counsellor; that’s a yes-man. Yes men are a comfort to insecurities, but they are hardly constructive. While many, and maybe even most, yes-men mean well because they are ‘fans’ of their leader, the false prophet who becomes a yes-man does so in order to leverage the leader’s insecurities to his own advantage.
Other false prophets operating within a local body may engage in other kinds of manipulation, but most often some form of flattery will be involved. What we must bear in mind is that manipulative behavior of any sort in a prophet is a clear indicator that something is very wrong, and it’s a grave mistake not to deal with it immediately.