Used or Useful?

May 30, 2016

Lord, use me.

God, I want to be used in Your kingdom.

Jesus, let my life be used for Your glory.

Show of hands if you’ve ever prayed any of the above! Many of us have. As humans, it’s natural to want to leave some kind of mark on the world, and as Christians, we hope our lives will make a positive impact beyond the here and now.

A few weeks ago, I was sincerely praying that God would use me. As I prayed, a memory swept through my mind of something I’d heard years ago: Someone pointed out that we often pray we’ll be used without stopping to realize what being used entails. Being used isn’t a pleasant process. When someone uses you, you feel underappreciated—and sometimes, even ashamed. While we’re obviously not praying that we’ll be mistreated when we ask God to use us, we do tend to forget that yes, being used is sometimes uncomfortable.

I believe God fully understands what we mean when we pray such prayers. Even so, as my mind drifted toward this old memory, I got the sense that I truly was praying the wrong prayer. By asking God to use me, I was putting all the responsibility on Him. God, I showed up; now You do something with me.

But what if that’s not the approach toward being used that God wants us to take?

On this day, something broke in my spirit as I said, “God, I do want to honor You. I want my life to reflect You. I want my actions to glorify You. I want You to ‘use’ me. But more than that . . . Help me to make myself useful.”

I suddenly realized that whether or not I “get used” isn’t always entirely God’s responsibility—and it’s also not entirely glamorous.

When I focus on making myself useful instead of being used, it may mean I don’t get used in the ways I often picture. It may mean I end up scraping gum off the bottom of a pew instead of being in charge of my church’s ladies ministry. It may mean I end up travailing in a prayer room instead of singing a solo with the praise team. It may mean I end up giving people rides to church instead of directing the Easter drama. But in the long run, my usefulness will build character and experiences so much richer and more fulfilling than if I were to wait around for that moment when God directs me into some kind of grand calling.

Have you been spiritually loitering, just killing time until God gets around to using you? He wants to! Even now He is asking, “Whom shall I send?” A useful woman will answer: “Here I am! Send me” (Isaiah 6:8).