Is ambition good or bad?
Pastor Mark Jeske
I guess it depends on whom you ask. If you check in with parents whose teenage kids spent countless hours in the basement playing video games, they would dearly love to see them more ambitious about building careers. Managers whose employees do only the minimum and show no creativity or spark would love to see some ambition.
Even in the church, growth of congregations and planting of new missions must wait for leaders’ initiative. St. Paul described it like this: “It has always been my ambition to preach the gospel where Christ was not known, so that I would not be building on someone else’s foundation” (Romans 15:20).
When the agenda is not God’s, however, when people’s ambition is just selfish, to aggrandize their own reputation, consolidate their control, or stack up their own wealth, it is another pathway to the idolatry of Self: “Who is wise and understanding among you? Let them show it by their good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom. But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth” (James 3:13,14).
How can you tell if your ambition is the good or bad kind? Will it wound or crush other people? Is the financial risk so high you could be ruined? Do you have to lie or cheat or steal to win?
Above all—does God gain glory?
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