Is AMBITION a "dirty word"? Not at all

I think the most difficult chapter to write in Finding Joy Beyond The Headlines was the chapter on ambition. I think it was because many people view ambition as anti-gospel. I was interviewed on a podcast by a local pastor who called ambition a “dirty word” in the eyes of many.

It’s not a dirty word in the eyes of God.

I’m working on a study guide for churches to pair with Finding Joy Beyond The Headlines. In the ambition study, I identify two kinds of ambition: Worldly and Godly. There is a big difference.

Worldly ambition is selfish in nature and aims to please oneself over all else. Godly ambition is self-less and leaves us focused on gains for Heaven.

You can guess which one God wants us to practice.

1 John 2:15-17 NIV “15 Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them. 16 For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—comes not from the Father but from the world. 17 The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever.”

Focusing on working to achieve our own desires is something James warns against:

James 3:16 NIV “For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice.”

All this mirrors the wisdom literature I read in Proverbs 6 this week. I made a video about it to show how words from Proverbs show us how to work hard.

Proverbs 6:6-11 NIV “Go to the ant, you sluggard; consider its ways and be wise! 7 It has no commander, no overseer or ruler, 8 yet it stores its provisions in summer and gathers its food at harvest. 9 How long will you lie there, you sluggard? When will you get up from your sleep? 10 A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest—11 and poverty will come on you like a thief and scarcity like an armed man.”

These are the words of man, not the mandate of God. However, it’s hard to see how this message doesn’t fall in line with the wisdom of the Creator, as well. Work is God’s idea. It was established for man in the Garden of Eden. It will continue for man until the end of this world and will resume in Glory. It will look differently in each setting but one thing will remain constant – if you work, God expects you to do it well Proverbs 12:14). And, do it with all of your heart (Colossians 3:17).

Be like the ants as described in Proverbs 6:6-11. Work hard without someone telling you to. Work with a goal in mind. Work together as a team if the opportunity arises. God gave you skills but he gave others skills, too. Share the load and it won’t feel quite as heavy.

Above all else, show Godly ambition in the pursuit of your goals. Model Christ in your teamwork and your drive to be your best.

Don’t be lazy. Be diligent and hardworking, like the ant.

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© 2019 by Bobby Lewis