Ambition

For the seven years before I entered the ministry, I was promoted 4 times at my work.  I moved up the ranks from a mid-level manager to an executive at a large corporation.   I was AMBITIOUS, constantly striving for the next big thing!  Don’t get me wrong; I worked hard and had a relationship with the Lord, and did not forsake my family throughout these times, yet looking back I often wonder whether I was overly ambitious or not.

Our culture tells us that striving for personal success and gain is admirable, right?  Not too many life coaches are telling their clients to check up and lower their standards.  They are pushing their clients to do more with their natural abilities.  People who don’t put their talents to use, for themselves and their families, are often looked at as not being providers and are shunned.

So, what is the right answer, meaning what does God say about having ambition on life?  Is this a good or a bad thing?  Philippians 2:3-8 says, “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.  Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.  Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking on the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.  And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.”

The writer, Paul, describes the life that Jesus Christ lived.  Was Jesus ambitious or did he check up and not deploy ambition?  It depends on which lens you choose to look through.  On one hand, Jesus could have been seen as a failure, and in fact that is how the culture of his day saw Him.  As Jesus hung on a cross, Luke records, “And the people stood by, watching, but the rulers scoffed at him, saying, ‘He saved others; let him save himself, if he is the Christ of God, his Chosen One!’” (Luke 23:35)  The people saw Jesus as a complete joke, a guy who couldn’t save Himself.

It is only when we look at who Jesus is and what He actually accomplished that we can have the right perspective on Him and realize that JESUS WAS AMBITIOUS!  Jesus was the most ambitious person to ever walk the face of this earth.  The reason is that Jesus aimed His entire life at the goal of salvation for anyone who would call upon His name as Lord.  Jesus took on the identity of a sinful man, bearing the sins of the world on the cross and aimed His talents at your salvation!  Jesus, with one moment at the cross, as He hung there and experienced hell on our behalf, accomplished the greatest ambition ever.
So when we look at what it means to be ambitious, we are to be ready to EMPTY ourselves of any personal advantage that would come from our status and aim our talents toward Jesus Christ and others.  So, today, take a personal inventory of what God has talented you with as a Christian and direct it toward having a personal relationship with Him and helping others.

-Joe Seestadt

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