“If your ambition is to leave a legacy, your legacy will be ambition.” Rich Mullins
Rich Mullins was a popular Christian recording artist in the 80’s and 90’s who spoke for that community and generation. To his credit, I think he was on to something. I know people who are in the later, legacy forming years of their life and are consumed with leaving a name for themselves. They’re right in step with a culture that says “It’s all about you. Make a name for yourself.” As a result, we end up with staggering displays of selfishness poisoning what could have been amazing work. I’ve personally seen millionaires step over and compete with one another as to who would get more credit for a worthy humanitarian project.
Even worse, this “dysfunctional legacy” has taught the rest of us a lesson: don’t be ambitious. After all, you don’t want to be that kind of person. We’ve been convinced that all ambition is bad ambition. But that isn’t true. Lack of ambition is unproductive, unGodly and unmanly. (Probably unwomanly too, but I’m not a woman, so hard for me to say.)
Too many people float through life, settling for mediocrity, and assuming that following God means staying where you are and thinking small.
We think contentment is staying pat, avoiding new goals and big dreams. The reputation of ambition has been sullied to the point where we can’t even conceive of such a thing as “godly” ambition.
And yet, hero after hero in the Bible has a healthy dose of wanting more. King David wanted to build a temple to honor God. When God told him “no,” did he settle down and pick up a boring hobby? Nope. He instituted a nationwide drive to collect materials for his son to build the temple. He had an ambition to bring God glory, and refused to sit still.
Even more telling is the example of the Apostle Paul. At first, his ambition was to completely eliminate all the followers of Jesus. Wiped out, done, eradicated–because he wanted to bring honor to God. And then God got a hold of his life. That same ambition (to bring honor to God) once he became a Christian caused him to be the most prolific church planter of his generation. God used him to write more books in the Bible than anyone else.
The problem isn’t ambition. It’s where that ambition is focused.
One of my most regular prayers is God, If you have anything big going on today, I want to be a part of it. I have ambition. I want to accomplish great things. I want to squeeze every single ounce of opportunity out of the life that I’ve been given. But that ambition and those opportunities have to be focused on Him (Romans 15:20), not me (James 3:16).
We need more people who are ambitious to grow their business which brings the fruit of more profits, more jobs, and more money that can give great blessings. We need more couples who are ambitious to grow their families since children are a heritage (Psalm 127:3). We need more pastors and missionaries who have the ambition to see massive amounts of people come into a relationship with Jesus and come under their care. We need more young men and women ambitious enough to dream big dreams, make big plans, and work long weeks in order produce all sorts of physical and spiritual blessings.
I’ve read multiple news reports that the Millennial generation will be the first in American history to not surpass their parents earning potential. I don’t know if that is true, but what is true is that if you brainwash a person to believe they won’t advance in life, they won’t. Add to that a paranoia around ambition, and you have a cocktail sure to produce failure.
Stop allowing other people to define for you what is possible.
Stop allowing the enemy to crush the ambition and drive that God Himself has given you. Stop staying on the low level of expectations that the neutered masses in our culture have made peace with.
I hope you want more than you have now. I hope you want to do more than you are doing now. I hope you want God to use you more than He is now. I hope you want new opportunities and victories that weenies who don’t have healthy ambition will never have. What will you run after this year?