Words of Hope: Ambition

I have been wrestling with the word ambition. The definition of it makes it more complex. In some definitions it says ambition means “aspiration, intention, goal and aim.” These are worthy words. In another definition, ambition is defined as an “ardent desire for rank, fame, power, or wealth and the willingness to do anything for its attainment.” This seems dangerous and harmful. I have been mulling over this word as I pray through Philippians 2. Paul says, “Do nothing out of selfish ambition.” This adjective, “selfish,” stood out to me. Can we have godly ambition or is ambition always selfish? This would be a time I would pick up the phone for a chat with Dad. “Hey Dad, what has ambition meant in your life? How do you see the difference between selfish ambition and godly ambition? What does godly ambition look like in your life?” 

Then we would have a conversation about ambition in my life. I would explain that I have been mulling over the bible story of the mom requesting her sons be honored to sit at Jesus’ right and left hand when they enter His kingdom. Jesus addresses her request with a question, “Can they drink the cup I have been given?” Her ambition hoped for power, authority, fame, privilege, possibly safety and comfort. I consider my “motherly” ambition. How do my prayers for my daughters sound like this ambitious mom? What are the best ways to pray for my girls? This would have been a beautiful conversation to have with Dad.  

I consider what he would say. 

a. Everything must be sifted through Matthew 6:33. Seek first the Kingdom of God. 

b. What is the kingdom of God? Meek, pure in heart, thirst for righteousness, peacemakers, merciful, humble. How do my prayers for my daughters align with these qualities? 

c. Next, Dad would recommend not conforming to the pattern of this world. What is the pattern? The drive to seek fame, wealth, comfort, social media standing, and power. Also, the ambition to be right, revered, perfect. Instead, what does God ask? To confess, to consider others better than ourselves, to forgive, to ask forgiveness, to rejoice always, to set our minds on heavenly things not on the things of this earth. 

Even though Dad is not here to speak these things to me, I hear his voice. I feel his encouragement because the words Dad would speak to me would have come from God’s word, the beautiful voice of my heavenly Father. I welcome and receive this Divine conversation with gratitude. 

 “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 the others.” – Philippians 2:3-4