If you’re looking for a book by one of today’s most admired Christian women, an ideal Christian wife who hasn’t
argued with her husband in over twenty years …
If you want know-how from an adoring mother who never raises her voice, has perfectly disciplined children, and
maintains a spotlessly clean house—I mean a woman whose domestic skills put Martha Stewart to shame …
If you want to read words of wisdom from a woman with color-coded closets, who not only makes her own clothes but
gives fabulous handmade gifts for every occasion; a woman who rises at the crack of dawn, jogs five miles, and
returns home in time to bake bread from scratch—all before her husband leaves for work …
If you want to get the inside track from a woman who is universally adored and admired by everyone who meets her …
If you want to follow in the footsteps of a woman who has conducted neighborhood Bible studies for twenty-five years
and led 400 women to Christ …
Quick, do not delay! Put this book down immediately! You must have me confused with some other Christian author!
If, on the other hand, you’re willing to read a book written by a woman who has been known to blow it big time, a
woman who, by Total Woman standards, would have to be labeled 2%. If you’re willing to spend some time with a
woman known to leave her dishes unwashed for several days, and who, even as she writes these words, is watching
her five-year-old daughter clean the windows with furniture polish, then pour yourself a cup of coffee and take a seat.
We’re about to begin an exciting journey together.
This book is not about becoming like me. It’s not about how I’ve got it all figured out and now I can impart to you the
“Ten Surefire Steps to Super-Spirituality.” I did not write this book because I con-
sider myself a shining example of a vessel God can use—far from it. I wrote this book because becoming a vessel
God can use has been a far more difficult and personally painful journey than I ever imagined possible, and I want to
minister out of that pain. I want to comfort you with the comfort I have received.
The exciting truth I want you to grab hold of is this: God can use imperfect vessels like you and me. In fact, he often
delights in choosing the most unlikely people to accomplish his purposes in this world. Everyone around you may
consider you the least likely job candidate, but fortunately, God works as his own employment recruiter! No matter
who you are, if you will yield your life to God, you can become a vessel God can use.
I urge you to set aside time daily during the next ten weeks to concentrate on your relationship with your heavenly
Father. The study should only require 10–20 minutes per day, five days a week. Then, once a week, you should join
with a small group of women to review the discussion questions, to pray and encourage one another, and to hold
one another accountable. Be sure to place top-priority on memorizing your weekly verse. To make it easier, you’ll find
cutout verse cards at the back of the book. Carry these cards in your purse and review them when you are on the run.
You can also make an extra set to post in a conspicuous place—like the refrigerator door or over the sink where you
do dishes or wash your face each morning.
I hope you will make this study a genuine priority in your life. The housecleaning will wait; someone else can bake the
brownies for a while; all your favorite TV shows will still be there at the end of the journey. Nevertheless, I understand
that hectic weeks may come and you’ll find it difficult to complete each day’s study. In those instances, let me suggest
that you focus on Day 1, because it introduces the theme, and Day 5, because it crystalizes the week’s study. Then,
as time permits, complete the remaining days for a fuller understanding of the material. Again, the ideal approach is
to complete each day’s study on a daily basis, rather than cramming on the morning of your weekly small group.
Working through this book won’t make you perfect and it won’t be easy, but I promise you will gain a fuller
understanding of the price and the possibilities, the challenges and the joys of Becoming a Vessel God Can Use.
1. Do you have to be perfect to become a vessel God can use? How important are other people’s opinions of your
2. In what ways has God already used you to make a difference in other people’s lives? List those who come to mind
by name and thank God for the privilege of being a vessel used by him.
3. Write out a prayer of commitment to the Lord, stating your intentions of working through this material to gain a fuller
understanding of what it means to be a vessel he can use.
4. Cut out the memory verse cards and get started!
5. If you are not working through this book as part of a small group, find a friend who will work through it with you. Plan
a time to get together each week for prayer, encouragement, and accountability.
6. What key lesson did you glean from today’s study?[j411]
You do not have to be perfect to become a vessel God can use.
The amount of spiritual growth you enjoy as a result of this study will be a direct result of the amount of time, prayer,
and effort you invest.
Is There a Place for Me?
Do you ever wonder where you fit in to God’s grand plan? Do you ever wonder if there really is a place for you? Maybe
when you think about the kind of vessel you are, words like “chipped, cracked, broken, and dirty” come to mind. Maybe
you feel like a dusty old jar forgotten on the shelf or an ugly water jug abandoned by the side of the road. Maybe you
see yourself as a crystal vase—you look good from a distance and people admire you, but a closer look reveals
cracks from top to bottom. You couldn’t hold water if you tried, let alone provide life to another living being.
Maybe you picked up this book on becoming a vessel God can use and thought I don’t even know what kind of vessel
I am—how can God use me when I don’t even know what I’m useful for? If so, you are not alone. When I taught this
ten-week study for the first time, I quickly discovered that many women weren’t sure what kind of vessel they were; not
sure how or where God could use them. Some of the women were looking for a course on spiritual gifts, and while
there are certainly some excellent (and very valuable) books on discovering your gifts and talents—this isn’t one of
them. Do you know why? Because if you are not living your life as a vessel God can use, understanding your gifts won’
t address the real problem. Your turning point will come when you understand how and why God works through frail
human vessels like us. Once you understand those two things, God will use you in astounding ways—ways that a
hundred spiritual gift courses could never prepare you for. When you come to grips with the truth that God’s thoughts
are not like your thoughts and your ways are not his ways, I promise you will be transformed into a vessel he can use.
(Then you can take a spiritual gifts class and get much more from it. Check out the book Discovering Your Spiritual
Gifts by Don and Katie Fortune, published by Chosen Books.)
When I became a Christian, I had very clear ideas about what my gifts were and how I could be useful to God. My
attitude was: God has done so much for me, I want to do things for him in return. Now everybody stand back and
watch me work. Unfortunately, my focus was on me and the great things I was going to accomplish for God, rather
than on God and the great things he wanted to accomplish through me. Understanding the difference between those
two approaches to ministry is at the heart of this study.
For years, I wondered, “Why does God use everyone else? What’s wrong with me?” Deep in my heart of hearts, I
longed for the significance that can only come when our lives are a channel through which God can work. I wondered
why some women were used in such powerful ways to minister to others, while I felt so ineffective.
Mind you, it’s not that I didn’t try. Far from it. One thing I do have is an abundance of energy and a willing spirit. I
poured myself into every ministry opportunity that came along. I taught Vacation Bible School to three- and four-year-
olds. I baked casseroles and cookies as part of the Fellowship Committee. I even tried my hand at Jell-O molds—not
a pretty sight. I invited newcomers to my home on behalf of the Hospitality Committee. I planned wild and crazy church
socials as part of the Social Committee. (Well, crazy by our church’s standards!)
My Sunday school teaching experience ranged from kindergartners to junior high and high school students. Then I
became a volunteer youth leader and went well beyond Sunday mornings. I invited the students and their parents to
my home. I met with them one-on-one throughout the week. I developed customized Bible studies tailored to their
current crises. I visited them on the job. (It was easy to find them; all teenagers work at the mall, you know.) I peddled
influence to get them jobs. I even hired them to work around my house. I took them to Christian rock concerts and
went camping in the rain. (I urge you to avoid that last experience at all costs.)
I volunteered to head up the Missions Committee. I read dozens of books on the how’s and the why’s, the history and
the future of missions. My husband and I attended missionary dinners; we had missionaries in our home, and we
sent monthly support to missionaries. (Still do!) I faithfully corresponded with a dozen missionary families and even
managed to convince some teenagers to go on short-term mission trips.
My husband and I hosted weekly small group Bible studies in our home for nearly a decade. We worked for the Billy
Graham Crusade when it came to town and tried to be mini-evangelists. I memorized the plan of salvation and all the
right scriptures a la Evangelism Explosion. I dropped hints to the neighbors and co-workers every day of the week. I
debated the merits of Christianity with an apologetic flair that would have put Josh McDowell to shame. I
enthusiastically touted the joys of the Christian life. (Didn’t live ’em, just touted ’em.) I invited scores of people to
church, to the Crusade, anywhere I thought God might “do his thing.”
Another pet project was my family. I’ve got a mom, a dad, seven older brothers and sisters, who brought with them a
parade of spouses, lovers, nieces, nephews, in-laws—you name it. I spent countless hours in agonized prayer over
them. I planned and plotted; I manipulated people and events. On several occasions, I did a most remarkable
imitation of the Holy Spirit as I witnessed to them and nearly dragged them into the Kingdom. Finally, God showed
forth his mercy upon my family—he moved me out-of-state.
Well, that’s not even the half of it. As you can see, I certainly wasn’t lacking in zeal. (Tact has always been in short
supply, though.) Yet, no matter how hard I tried, it rarely seemed God was really using me in people’s lives. Oh, there
were odd breakthroughs here and there. Occasionally, it looked like something I’d said or done had made a
difference. But in proportion to the amount of effort I was pouring forth, the returns were dismal.
In fact, God usually worked in spite of me, not because of me. I felt frustrated and exhausted. I had scattered my
energies in a thousand different directions, but saw little fruit. The only tangible results were the bitterness that
enveloped me and the wake of confused, frustrated, and often angry people I left behind.
So I stopped.
I stopped the committees and the Bible studies, the Sunday school and the mission society. I stopped baking
casseroles and sending note cards. I stopped the whirlwind. Funny thing, though, no one seemed to mind. So I
stopped going to church altogether. Actually, I stopped living, period. Sure, I inhaled and exhaled, even mustered up a
pulse. But, in truth, I had withdrawn from life: I had effectively cut myself off from everyone and everything. I thought it
would hurt less. I was wrong. The hours that were once filled with activity, however fruitless, were now filled with
depression and despair.
Clearly, this new approach wasn’t working, either. So I came up with a novel ideal. I decided to study my Bible. I was
determined to uncover what the heroes of the Bible had in common. What was it that made them so great that the
God of the universe hired them to “get the job done” down here on earth?
Do you know what I discovered? I discovered a collection of the most unlikely people imaginable. From homemakers
and prophets to prostitutes and murderers, God was able to work through anyone who firmly believed he could and
would use imperfect vessels. As I have gradually released my own agenda and turned myself—broken, imperfect
vessel that I am—over to God, he has begun to work through my life. This book you hold in your hands is one of the
fruits of that process.
Do you want to be a vessel God can use? Let go of your plans to do great things for God and cling to the truth that
God is able to work through an imperfect vessel like you. This study will guide you through that process. It begins with
an understanding of who God really is and who you are as his creation. It’s a process that involves accepting the
purpose for which God created you, even if it’s not the life you envisioned for yourself. It requires being emptied of
yourself and allowing God to cleanse you and fill you anew. Then, and only then, will you have anything to give in
ministry to others. As you learn to become a moldable, usable vessel in the hands of God, you’ll discover that ministry
is no longer a burden, no longer a list of things you have to do. Rather, it’s a simple matter of listening for God’s
voice, then following where he leads.
At the end of this book you will find a summary of the “Five Requirements for Becoming a Vessel God Can Use.” I
encourage you to turn there often to review them throughout the course of this study. Allow these principles to seep
down into your soul and actually become part of your being, your vessel. In this way, the heart of the study will remain
with you for years to come—and isn’t that what you want to happen when you undertake a study like this? Whenever
you find yourself out of step with God, you can stop and mentally go through the “Five Requirements” to discover
where you have gotten off track.
1. Imagine yourself as a vessel. Describe what you see.
2. Which is more important: understanding your spiritual gifts or understanding the one who imparts spiritual gifts?
3. What is the difference between accomplishing things for God and allowing him to accomplish his work through
4. Which of the above approaches best describes your Christian life so far?
5. What key lesson did you glean from today’s study?
Understanding what God wants to accomplish through your life is far more important than deciding what you think
you can accomplish for him.
The key to effective ministry is understanding how and why God works through imperfect vessels like us.
You've just read an excerpt from the book, Becoming a Vessel God Can Use. It's a book that has transformed lives
all over the world, on all seven continents and has been used by God to launch thousands of women into ministry
while revolutionizing entire women's ministry programs at churches! Order your copy today!