As part of our series New Year, New You, we are looking at ways of assessing our spiritual health, and finding ways of getting through 2016 in the best possible way. Already we have looked at ways of recharging those spiritual batteries via more prayer time and steering clear of rituals and bondage in our ‘Running on Empty’ feature, along with asking big questions on how close should Christian men and women get in matters of friendship. Here the editorial team at Premier discuss what for some is a very testing spiritual battleground indeed - the subject of Ambition, and give their own verdict on its benefits and potential dangers.
Harry, Senior Digital Editor
It says in the good book - for what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul?
I think that simple ambition is good - to better oneself and make the most of the gifts God has given us is commendable. But the sort of ambition that seeks to gain an advantage over an associate, or even worse, a friend - that sort of selfish ambition leads to destruction, emptiness and bitterness of heart.
I still have a lot to learn in this regard, and to learn humility and count others more significant than myself - as it says we should do. Jesus had the option of having the whole world - if he would just bow to satan. But he answered "You shall worship the Lord your God and him only you should serve". Living a life of service to our Master in heaven is the point of our time on earth, and to do this we must live one day at a time, not believing ourselves to be greater than we are but giving our successes over to Him in devotion and love.
As I grow older I realise that the best we can do is to love our neighbour wholeheartedly - to be kind and considerate and profess Christ's love here on earth. That's my ambition for the years to come.
Tamala, Digital Producer, Premier.org
When I think of the word ambition, the scripture in Matthew 5:16 that talks about shining among them like stars, so that the they may see your good works and praise your father in Heaven’ comes to mind. To me ambition is the fuel for achieving your full God given potential and just like the talents that was given to the servants by the master in Matthew 25, I think that we are expected to be strategic and purposeful with the skills and gifts we are given, using them them to glorify God.
Marcus, Digital Editor, Youthwork
I think ambition is important, but living life as a Christian ultimately means that your ambition is subject to God’s plans. When I think of ambition, I often think of Proverbs 19:21 ‘Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the LORD that will stand.’ (ESV) We often have plans and goals that are quite selfish. It can be very hard to live selflessly enough to make plans solely with the end goal of giving glory to God and not being motivated by any personal gain or treasure.
For this reason, I feel that the approach given in James 4:15, ‘If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that’, is the best to take when it comes to your own ambition. It’s best to submit any ambitions you have to God, and if they are what he has for you, they will happen. As we continue through a process of sanctification, our ambitions will gradually be more and more conformed to be in line with God’s ambitions for us.
Adam, Digital Producer
Ambition in a modern sense is an entirely unbiblical concept. It often involves people trying to pursue selfish dreams and plans which have nothing to do with God. Ambition in a biblical sense can be a good thing, especially if those plans are in line with Gods will and purpose for your life. Interestingly, you never see anywhere in scripture where a follower of God has a dream. That’s not to say we can’t have a plan for our future but we must remember what we’re here for.
“The heart of man deviseth his way but the Lord directs his steps” (Proverbs 16:9).
Our whole purpose for existence is to glorify God and be conformed to the image of His Son (Rom 8:28-29). Our ambition as Christians must be to make disciples of all nations by preaching the gospel (Matthew 28:19, Mark 16:15). If you follow that path you can’t go wrong.