God Doesn’t Want Me to be Ambitious?


What do you think of when you hear the word: Ambitious?

Do you think of that other guy in the office or on the sales floor who nearly doubles your commission on a daily basis? Do you think of that mom who has more kids than you do, manages to host a church small group in her home, is working toward her master’s degree, fixes full dinners every evening, always has room to babysit one more extra, never tells you no, always has a smile, seems to know the Lord intimately, has the perfect husband who gets paid more than yours, blogs regularly and takes care of her ailing parents? Do you think of that kid who’s never made a B in his life? The entrepreneur?

Or do you think of yourself? Do you tuck your thumbs into proverbial suspenders and smile at your success? Are you pleased with your well-organized list of goals for the next five years?

Or do you think of the little kid who wants to be a doctor when he grows up; the little girl with big aspirations of becoming a famous dancer?

Is Ambition good or bad?

Here’s what Dictionary.com has to say: an earnest desire for some type of achievement or distinction, as power, honor, fame, or wealth, and the willingness to strive for its attainment
desire for work or activity; energy

The examples above and the definition makes us think of all the things we want to do and the people we want to be. Ambition is prized among men and women of all ages, races and economic status. So I found it interesting when someone pointed out recently that the God doesn’t seem to have the same opinion. At the very least, God has a different list of things for which we should be ambitious.

A quick search using the Online Parallel Bible, reveals 11 uses of the word “ambition” in the entire Bible. Of those 11 uses, only three of them are positive. Most often, ambition is referred to as selfish. Other adjectives include: insincere, vain, and employed by treacherous people.

Paul is the writer who talks about ambition in a positive manner. Paul said he was ambitious to preach the Gospel (Romans 15:20). He instructed his readers to have as their ambition to lead a peaceful and quiet life (1 Thess. 4:11). And in                         1 Corinthians 5:9, Paul lists his ambition as “to be pleasing to the Lord.”

Most of the time, the word ambition makes me squirm. I never feel like I have as much ambition as the next person. I don’t have clearly outlined personal and professional goals. I am not driven in so many ways. Actually, God’s version of the ambitious person is relieving to me. I DO want so much to preach the Gospel, to live a quiet, Christ-centered life, and to be pleasing to God. At least, I want to want those things. Do you know what I mean?

What do you think of ambition? Are you God’s type of ambitious person?

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4 thoughts on “God Doesn’t Want Me to be Ambitious?

  1. Thanks for this, Abby. You comforted me with this because I can relate to not feeling ambitious in the worldly sense. Sometimes, I’m amazed that my idea of success has changed from making a name for myself and changing the world to raising a family, pursuing peace and wanting so badly other people to know the love of Christ.

  2. Shannon,
    I’m right there with you. I waffle from feeling guilty that I’m not ambitious enough to tired because I’m ambitious for things other than what God designed me to do.

    Charles, thanks – I learn a lot from you about rest and focus on God’s things!

  3. I think you hit on a very important topic. Just because the world tells us that something is important, does not mean that is what God expects of us individually. We each have our own destinies, and I think we SHOULD be ambitious in seeking out our own destinies and what GOD wants of us. The trick often is to not listen to all the distractions. I think ambition is a good thing, that can be turned into a bad thing when misapplied. The guilt comes from judging ourselves by the wrong standards.

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