Eugene Peterson, in Christ Plays in Ten Thousand Places, talks about the temptation to make ourselves first, even when it comes to the Christian life and ministry:
“Along the way the primacy of God and his work in our lives gives way ever so slightly to the primacy of our work in God’s kingdom, and we begin thinking of ways that we can use God in what we are doing. The shift is hardly perceptible, for we continue to use the vocabulary of our new identity; we continue to believe the identical truths; we continue to pursue good goals. It usually takes a long time for the significance of the shift to show up. But when it does it turns out that we have not so much been worshiping God as enlisting him as a trusted and valuable assistant.” (p. 124.)
As subtle as this shift seems, there really is a dramatic difference in orientation. We may find ourselves saying that God is Lord and comes first, but the way we relate to God often looks more like a C.E.O. interacting with a consultant. The C.E.O. is glad to receive resources from the consultant, but is still calling the primary shots. I am not C.E.O. of my own kingdom, but a servant of the King and His kingdom. I’m not using God to get my agenda accomplished. I’m welcoming God to use me to get His agenda accomplished.
Using God is not the orientation to which I’m invited. I am invited to humbly submit my life to God’s good, wise and sovereign purposes. Prayer is not a way to get my will done and go have my kingdom come, but rather, as Jesus taught us, to invite God’s kingdom come and will be done.