By Margaret Yu
It was a hard night where I tossed and turned with a horrible cough and a constricted throat – and I was not even sick! However, upon hearing my alarm, I was afraid that I would have to cancel because I was not sure if I had a voice to speak. (For speakers, that is a NO-NO. I had only canceled once in my life.) So I sought to rest in bed for at least 40 minutes just to be sure that I had some rest and to see what would happen. I prayed and told God that I would get up as if I were headed towards church. I did and lo and behold, I was somehow healed from all the night’s illnesses.
During my message, I had stepped away from the pulpit and felt a bit frustrated that I ran over the given time for my sermon. I was upset and bummed. However, as I sat down, I prayed my usual prayer after speaking or serving others: Lord, I pray that you would have used me in spite of myself and because of myself.
As usual, I was able to walk away with my service being an offering to Him no matter the results.
Driving home from church, I was so grateful that somewhere along the way, I had learned to add the second part of that prayer after each sermon or service. I’m so glad that I no longer just pray that God would humbly use me in spite of my own weaknesses or my failings. Somewhere along the way, God had used people and organizations to help me see that God does indeed use me because of how he has created me. (I thank God for Epic Movement, Synergy Women’s network, APIWLC, and friends for how they have helped alter my view of myself in God and in service!)
Being an Asian American woman leader, it was always easy to believe that I had many failings. Having lived in the culture of saving-face, anything that did not seem perfect was hard for me to swallow. It was also a lot easier to believe that I did not have much to offer as well. As a woman leader, so often our standards for leading, speaking and serving are male figures. As I have served in a predominately White organization, most of my models are White male leaders. Hence, it was easier to subtly believe that my kind of service or speech was not as good as other styles of service. Indeed, it was with much facility that I could pray the first part of that prayer — that God would humbly use me no matter my shortcomings, sometimes even in spite of my cultural or gender identity.
However, it has been a joy to have been with friends, co-workers and organizations that affirm my identity as an Asian American or as a woman. It has been humbling to have served and been affirmed by people or organizations to lead with all of my identity and history. It has been very much a grace-ful blessing to be the recipient of honor for being me in all of my glory…being all that I am. It has been so confirming to have others share with me that the best way to be used is to be myself and that being an Asian American woman is by God’s design. To be affirmed in various aspects of my unique contribution to the Kingdom has freed me to live out my calling in an authentic way.
I am so glad that I now actually believe that God will use me because of me. In his eyes, all of my past, my failings, my cultural background, my gender and my spiritual gifts is a part of his unique calling for me in this world. My highest calling is to be fully myself in all of God’s design for his glory in order to do good in this world. I am to let my life speak for God — and that life includes all the fullness of my spiritual giftings, gender, cultural and racial realities. I don’t have to be used like others are being used. God can use me because of me.
So on that day of speaking at church with only 40 minutes of sleep the night prior, I was aware of the spiritual battle that also came with being God’s servant. I was reminded again that even if I was a bit long, and even if I felt disoriented from some weird illnesses, that God would cover me with his love and care, and that the mystery of it all was that God could use me even when I thought it went horribly. In fact, all of my inabilities to speak well or my jumbled thoughts were still an offering to him for his usage for his kingdom. He in his grace still uses me because I am available. So God does use me in spite of my shortcomings or challenging circumstances, and He uses them so that I can be an example to others that service to God is not about perfection, but about heart.
I am also amazed at the fact that there is an aspect to my ministry that is so unspoken; that is, that I am a role model for other Asian American woman leaders. So what matters most is not just my good preparation or service, but that my heart is open to be used. The results are incidental and some are even positive only because I am an Asian American woman leader….because I am who I am. The most amazing thing again on that day was to see many men and women come up to me to share how God used that sermon that I did not think very highly of. What a privilege that God uses me simply because of myself.
What do you pray after your sermons or service? How do you offer that to God? I praise God that I can pray both parts of this prayer: Lord, use me in spite of myself and because of myself.
Margaret Yu is the National Director of Leadership Development for Epic Movement, the Asian American Ministry of Campus Crusade for Christ. Her passion is to empower Asian American leaders to lead while using their God given design and heritage.