I've written about ambition as a woman of faith before.
In fact, I've created an entire video series addressing the Scriptural foundation of ambition and women.
But today, I'd like to address the fears which many of the ambitious Christian women I know battle. I'd also like to suggest a few ways we can finally be at peace with the woman we are.
What is Ambition?
a strong desire to do or to achieve something, typically requiring determination and hard work; desire and determination to achieve success.
WOW! That sounds evil, doesn't it!
Unfortunately, women in general, and Christian women in particular, are often made to feel that having an ambitious bent is somehow unholy, or at least carnal and unspiritual.
What I believe - with every fiber of my being - is that we need to embrace the type of person we've been created to be. Sally Hogshead's books Fascinate and How the World Sees You, were two life-changing books for me. As someone who uses Personality, Spiritual Gifts, Character Strengths, and Skill Strengths assessments in my advanced coaching work, I know that once you identify the truth of who you are at your core, you are free to express yourself in a greater way than ever before. Not only are YOU free, but you are able to release others to express themselves more fully as well.
(FYI - I happen to register on the "Maestro" scale in the Fascination Advantage scale.)
I also am wild about Tara Gentile and her mission to empower people to create personalized plans of strategy for their business. (Something I also love to do with people.)
Wherever you find yourself - it is the expression of your authentic, amazing, incredible self that people want to experience.
Below are some fears I and other ambitious women have faced. Do any of them sound familiar to you?
Fear #1 - Isn't Ambition a Jezebel Spirit?
An ambitious woman is sometimes called Jezebel. Or, in the business world something equally unattractive. Yet, the simple truth is that ambition is a God-given gift. However, like all gifts, it can be turned to the wrong purposes. It's like Dean Koontz says, "Ambition and stupidity are a dangerous combination."
There is a danger of using ambition in the wrong way. But that is true of any strength - or weakness.
When you are a woman who loves God and wants to do well, there's no need to worry that your gift of ambition will turn sour or create bitter results. Your gift of ambition, filtered through the love of the Lord, serves Him and the world you are meant to reach.
Fear # 2 - Ambition and Marriage
The Bible clearly states that we are to be submissive to our OWN husband.
However, submission and ambition are two entirely different things. The Bible states we are to be submissive to one another, serving one another in love. As wives, our responsibility is to love and submit to our husband as the head of the household. We show the world a beautiful picture of the church and our relationship to Jesus when this works the way it should. Ephesians chapter 5 clearly states that husbands are the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church. In this picture, we are declaring our ability and willingness to be in partnership with the work of the Kingdom of God.
We can be loving, submissive wives AND determined in our desire to achieve success. Our success brings support and strength to the family as a whole. When any person - you included - is fulfilling their God-ordained calling, living to the fullness of their gifts and strengths - it opens doors to the people around you to do the same. Success doesn't close the door to intimacy in our relationships with our husband, it's opens them wider.
A confident, fulfilled woman doesn't look to her husband to meet all of her needs. Instead, she is able to look to the Lord and give richly to her husband.
For those who aren't married to a believing spouse - there is still a requirement of submission. The promise is that we bring the Grace of God and the covering of the Lord into our marriage. We also can claim the promise that our unbelieving spouse will be converted by our witness.
Fear #2 Part 2 - Ambition and the Single Woman
For those of you who aren't married, what does this mean? Let me begin by saying, that I believe we are more than capable of hearing from God on our own. However, I do believe it is important to have a godly male figure in your life (if at all possible) to discuss matters with. It isn't that men are smarter, more spiritual or more capable; simply that they have a different way of seeing things.
As an unmarried woman, it can be tempting to submit yourself to the wrong men in your life - a boyfriend or other strong male. I feel a little like Paul when I say here, "this is me and not the Lord" - but my suggestion is to have a spiritually strong male in your life - you dad, brother or your pastor - IF it makes sense. Again, this doesn't mean that you can't pursue your life work desires - it simply means you have someone to discuss matters with who respects you as an intelligent, gifted and called woman.
It ALWAYS makes sense to surround yourself with women who are spiritually-clear and understand you. This is true whether married or single. When you participating in a community of like-minded women, you have greater insight and a powerful advantage.
Fear #3 - Ambition and Moms
Ambitious Christian women fear their children will feel neglected by their pursuit of success. And, if we don't maintain a balance, it's possible, as it is with any man or woman who doesn't keep their priorities in order. As a highly driven woman, we can put our face to the goal and sometimes miss the beautiful scenery along the road.
Strategic planning is an important skill for every person who is pursuing success. As women, we wear a lot of different hats: daughter, sister, wife, mother, entrepreneur, employee, church and community participant, networker - and of course the list goes on and on.
When your heart is to serve those you love, you'll find a way to make sure you keep them at the top of your priority list. It is important to remember that it is the Lord first, husband second, children third, extended family, business/work and community following along behind, in the order that makes sense for your life.
An ambitious, goal-oriented mother teaches her children the power of going after your passions and fulfilling your purpose. It's only when children feel like they are unimportant that it becomes an issues.
All children (and adults) can have their feelings hurt when things don't go the way they want them to. It doesn't mean that you have to sacrifice every important business event for every softball game. When you help children understand the reality of compromise, it is a great gift to them. Making the right choice at the right time is a skill. We don't always get it right. But we can always do better the next time.
Fear #4 - Ambition and Perception
It's crazy isn't it, that we have to worry what others thing of us as passionate, driven, ambitious, successful women? Add "Christian" to the mix and we open up an entirely new door of criticisms and comments.
Yet, it shouldn't surprise us that it's this way. The same is true for pastors who are in the public eye with books and media appearances. Many Christians and non-Christians criticize the pastor or church leader who drives an expensive car, lives in an exclusive neighborhood or perhaps owns an airplane. I'm not here to argue whether the money should be given to charity. Suffice it to say that the Bible says that a workman is worthy of his hire, and the one who shares the Gospel is worth double honor. (1 Timothy 5:17-18).
Add to this that driven women are already generally criticized in traditional business circles and you have a real storm of worry when it comes to how others see us. We want to be successful. We work hard. We deserve respect. But, we often have to fight for the respect, which in turn can bring on an onslaught of labels that just aren't the truth.
This is where "Jezebel" comes in. You know the story. A powerful queen who used her power to fight against the prophet of God. That's a pretty harsh label for any woman who simply wants to pursue excellence, work hard, attain the highest position possible, earn a fair wage, and open opportunity for others.
So how do we battle the stereotypes?
Sometimes, you can't. There are people who just won't be convinced. And, this is where it can become a little bit tricky. We have to let go of what others think of us, and be content in the truth of who we truly are.
What is that old saying? Success is the best revenge?
Well, I'm not suggesting we should be out to get revenge, but a life lived in the Grace of God, filled with balance, love and success is the greatest testimony you can give.
Listen, there are people who believe the Holocaust never happened and that 9-11 was a political hoax. How in the world do you expect to cause everyone to believe that YOU are a woman of excellence in all ways?
In the End...
At the end of the day, it is YOUR head on the pillow. It is YOU that you face in the mirror every morning. Ask yourself these questions, and if you can answer positively to most or all - you need to give yourself a break, and get on with living out your Ambitious - Beautiful - Christian life.
- Do you want to fully live out your God-given purpose and calling, to the best of your ability?
- Do you attempt each day to live a life that is a testimony of the goodness of God and the power of His blessing on your life?
- As a Christian, is your first desire to serve and honor the Lord in your life/work/business?
- As a married woman, are you doing your best to honor your husband?
- As a single woman, is there someone you are spiritually accountable to, that helps you make big decisions?
- As a mom, do you spend time each day telling your children how special they are to you, and how much they mean to you?
Did you pass the ambition test? If you are struggling in a couple of areas, that's entirely normal! Don't beat yourself up about it. Begin to pray, find some people who get it, and begin to make the adjustments you need to make. Listen - you can do anything! YOU are an Ambitious Christian Woman!
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