By Peter Jordan
Being the youngest of three brothers, my clothes were hand-me-downs—let’s just call them used clothes. There were two changes in my ‘wardrobe’—times were hard, but I have no hard feelings. Besides, I had no choice.
Wonderful Wanda (Carter) Pickett, a member of our staff family back in the 90s, only buys used clothing at thrift stores—and she is one of the classiest dressers I know. To top it off she used to live on Thrift Avenue! She plays the system and ‘uses’ the ‘used.’
The first car that Donna and I bought was a used 1960, second generation VW bug, and it served us well. Butjunkyard66c.jpg inexperienced as we were with a major purchase, we got stung by a classic used car salesman who jacked us around on the price. What made it worse was the he was a friend.
[Used cars are no longer ‘second-hand,’ they are now ‘pre-owned,’ or even worse, ‘pre-loved.’ Yikes!]
What happens to used tires? They either get a retread or are thrown on the junk pile.
So it’s OK—and often wise to be frugal—by recycling stuff.
But what if you get ‘used’ by other people. Just ask any celebrity if they’re ever felt used and taken advantage of. It goes with the territory and so many well-known personalities find it hard to trust others because of this.
Have you ever felt used?
Used by people? Used for the gift you have? Used by leaders? Even used (in the wrong sense) by God.
Well folks, like the old snake oil salesman used to bellow from the tailgate of his covered wagon, “Right here in this bottle, I have the cure for whatever ails you!”
But the cure doesn’t come in a bottle; in almost all cases you already have the remedy you need. It comes from within your own heart . . . and it comes in only one word.
Serve. Yup, that’s it.
If your heart motive is to serve, you can never truly be used. Even if people do exploit you for their own purposes; even if they extract every ounce of energy and time and resources from you with little or no appreciation . . . as long as your incentive is truly to serve, you will stay free from bitterness and a bad attitude about being used. You will confound the user with the opposite spirit of true servanthood.
This holds true for your job, your family, your church—in any sphere of your life—except in very, very rare and extreme cases where there is clear and present evidence of illegal and prohibited abuse.
The word 'user' has a totaly different meaning these days, although we won't be going there! But have you ever been a 'user' of people yourself?—by trying to enhance your own wealth, reputation or power; or building yourself up by rubbing shoulders with the rich and the famous?
If you’re a leader, have you used others to fulfill your vision rather than helping followers to achieve their vision? Ever used others to satisfy your own appetites (hmmm, now we’re getting close to home, but we won't go there either, at least this time).
Does God use us? We often hear people say things like, “Wow! God really used Billy Graham in that meeting!” Billy Graham placed himself in God’s hands as a servant, and God found him to be useful. God didn’t take advantage of Billy.
It’s like when Barnabas’ nephew John Mark finally got his life straightened out, Paul was able to say of him, “ . . . he is useful to me for service.” (2 Tim 4:11) Or when Paul appealed to Philemon to release Onesimus the escaped slave, “ . . . who formerly was useless to you, but now is useful . . .” (Philemon 10-11)
Jesus himself showed us servant leadership, “Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage.” (Phil 2:6)
I recently read somewhere that, “God's purpose is not to perfect me to make me a trophy in His showcase; He is getting me to the place where He can use me. Let Him do what He wants."
I have the sense that when God uses someone, they don't wear out, they actually become brand new! How about that?
So use up old clothes, cars and things; try to make yourself useful; but don’t ever use people; and always place yourself at God’s disposal . . . his use.
God is not disposed to dispose of you in a human thrift store—ever.
Peter & Donna, along with the YWAM Associates Team, live in the prairie city of Medicine Hat, Alberta,Canada. They have been in YWAM since 1976 and try to give leadership to the rapidly expanding ministry of encouragement directed toward the approximately 3,000,000 people who have served in YWAM, long or short term. They have four children (two in YWAM) and nine grandchildren.