Feeling used by God is very different than feeling used by our world’s system. The world will use you, extract whatever they feel is of value, and then throw you away. The world’s system cares only for your usefulness; there is little to no concern for you as a person.
Recently, I spent some time looking back over the ministry of the past year as I formulated plans for 2014. The year had its share of difficulties—that’s for sure. Still, I know that I emerged from it better off than I was a year ago. God has a way of making things work out that way.
A Painful Lesson
I’ve always known these things to be true in principle, but seeing it firsthand was another story. The experience happened 20 years ago, but it continues to influence my life on a daily basis.
I was working for a fairly large corporation at the time. For years, the company had a favorable reputation in the community; they were known for taking good care of their employees. Sadly, all of that changed due to a leadership transition in the upper echelon of the organization; the new president and his staff cared more about dollars and cents than they did about people. In spite of their college degrees, they were ignorant of the fact that a company is only as sound as its people.
An older guy named Joe worked in the building next to ours. Joe was as faithful as they come. He hadn’t missed a day of work in over 12 years. Not even one. And Joe was known for always being on time, willingly putting in extra hours even though he never received financial remuneration for the added work.
Joe had been with the company for a long time, with a brief 3-year lapse that had taken place in his younger years. Having been laid off, Joe found work elsewhere. But company officials decided that he was too valuable to lose. When they made a job offer, he agreed to return on the condition that they count that 3 years as time served. They readily agreed but nothing was ever put in writing. Back then a man’s word was his bond and so Joe never felt a written agreement was necessary. Things have changed since “back then”.
Once again, economic challenges came along and Joe—now near retirement age—was laid off permanently. Because his agreement with corporate officials had never been sealed in writing, the new regime refused to honor the deal. It didn’t matter what vacation records showed, or what anybody else testified. It didn’t matter how faithful Joe had been, or how deep his loyalty ran. It didn’t matter that he was putting his son through college. Joe’s usefulness had run its course and all that mattered now was the bottom line. Needless to say, Joe became a bitter man.
Being Used by God Makes Us Better, Not Bitter
Joe’s painful experience taught me a powerful lesson. I would do my best to be a faithful employee, but my first allegiance would always be to God. Our heavenly Father values us for who we are—not simply for what we have to offer. Feeling used by this world’s system is dreadful, but feeling used by God leaves us with a sense of satisfaction that nothing in this world can match.
Without question, there is a price to pay for being used by God, but, somehow, we always end up better for it in the end. No matter how dark the path may be, or how painful the days run, no matter what the price paid, the sovereign king of the Universe has an uncanny knack of turning everything to our benefit when all is said and done.
So, here I sit, feeling used while I make ministry plans for the coming year. How enjoyable it is!