Following Jesus does not mean we need to give up ambition.
A lot of Christians seem to think ambition is a bad word; it’s something God is trying to drive out of us. Not true. In fact, the Bible calls us to a level of ambition that is breathtakingly audacious. Consider 2 Corinthians 5:9, “Therefore we also have as our ambition, whether at home or absent, to be pleasing to Him.” That is Paul calling the church to a radical form of ambition – please Jesus in every situation we encounter. That is aspiring to something so much beyond wealth, fame or power. It’s reaching for the ultimate – that our lives would cause God to smile.
No doubt that perspective would require a remapping of ambition in many of us. Scripture does call us to abandon selfish ambition, “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.” (Phil. 2:3) But the Bible does not call us to kill our ambition. We are made to create, to achieve, to pursue goals and the Scripture reminds all of us that intimacy with God is the greatest thing we could aspire to in our lives. The gospel doesn’t kill ambition but it does remap it.
Not only does the gospel offer a new path for ambition but it also offers a new power for fulfilling our sanctified ambition. Maybe we can make a few bucks on our own or get a promotion based on our efforts. But the goal of pleasing God is so unattainable in our own power that we are forced to lean on His power. If we could please God in our own power, it would lead to pride. But when we realize it’s only possible through the union we have with Jesus and the enabling power of the Spirit, pride gives way to worship and joy.
So, be ambitious! Strive with all of the power God provides to live today in such a way that God is pleased.
How different would your day be today if you resolved now to adopt this new ambition and ask God for the grace to live it out?