Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Is it Okay to Have Ambition?

I have heard it said, over the course of several years now, a statement that quite frankly had confused me. The statement has been, 'So-in-So has no ambition.' And what was even more confusing is that it was touted as if that was a good thing. The first time I heard it I thought, "Gosh, it's so sad that, that person has no ambition," but after hearing it several times since I have started to understand what was trying to be communicated. Simply stated to have no ambition was meant to say that the person is humble.  A person with no ambition didn't break down any doors or trick his way to the top. His notoriety came to him while he wasn't looking. He merely was doing a servant's job and was recognized. Personally, I never thought of the word 'ambition' as having anything to do with pride or trickery. My understanding of the word was merely to have a goal placed before you, something you looked forward to and possibly achieving. So, I went ahead and looked up ambition's true meaning. Webster's tells us that ambition means:
  1. an ardent desire for rank, fame, or power.
  2. the desire to achieve a particular end. 
  3. a desire for activity or exertion
Using Webster's definition, I say, ambition is an okay thing to have. The dictionary says that ambition is a "desire to achieve a particular end" and I ask you, what's wrong with that? Shouldn't we have a vision before we put our hands to something and shouldn't we have the desire to achieve it to it's end? Shouldn't we want to see the vision come into fruition? To simply say, "______ has no ambition" is really not a very clear or good message.

Now the Bible talks of  'selfish' ambition. In Philippians 2:3 it says, "Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests, but each of you to the interests of others." If a person has selfish ambition that's not good. Selfish ambition is the attitude of doing all you have to do, to get all you want no matter the cost it brings to others so you yourself can have fame or glory or wealth. Clearly, that is not good. To work hard for a rank or fame is not a bad thing, but it is turned bad when it is for a selfish gain only.

I guess it has bothered me to hear that phrase because honestly, I have ambition-(the good kind). I am a visionary. I see something not working right and immediately my minds finds ten different ways to fix the problem, then I want to put my hands to the task and correct it. My heart is to help, to use my God-given talents to bless others. I also thrive on work and love being challenged by it. I love to work whether it be cleaning, organizing, making lesson plans, planning a gathering, putting together a huge event or small- I just love being active. I love using my mind, my giftings, and talents to produce something. I have no desire for 'rank, fame, or power,' just a desire to capture a vision from God and help create it.

Now, I know most women do not like when Proverbs 31 is read because in it is described the most amazing wife and mother. Most of us feel like we can never achieve her greatness. And although it is a daunting list I have actually been encouraged by it. I did not grow up with a Godly, female, role-model and I believe the Proverbs 31 woman is my role-model. She is diligent. She is a planner. She is industrious. She cooks, bakes, and sews. She helps provide for her family, she has wisdom, and is not idle. AND because of all her hard work she is respected and her husband is honored. This is a woman who wants the best for her husband and children and works endlessly to achieve it. Her heart is a heart for her family. She is a woman of ambition, she works hard to achieve her goals and there is a reward for it all.

31 Honor her for all that her hands have done,
    and let her works bring her praise at the city gate. (Proverbs 31:31)

It is not wrong to have dreams. It is not wrong to work hard after them. It is not wrong to be rewarded for all your hard work either. But all of that can be wrong or corrupted if our heart is in the wrong place. If we are working to please others and gain approval. If we think that working is going to fill certain needs and insecurities. If we are basically working for -again- our own needs to be met.

So, I say, with a pure heart have ambition and be blessed.

"Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men." (Colossians 3:23)

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