I've been thinking about the idea of Holy Ambition for a few days now.
Often in life, I've battled the fact that I have an ambitious heart; big dreams, huge goals, with desires for promotion and influence. And I'll admit sometimes in my life those ambitions have been entirely self-focused.
Thankfully, I discovered the more I draw near to God through His word, and prayer, and service to others, those selfish ambitions morph into Kingdom ambitions.
So, as I've considered Holy Ambition, I knew it was time to see what the Word of God has to say. Obviously, the bulk of scriptures focus on self-ambition. However, not all ambition is bad. Here's what I found using Bible Hub, one of my favorite study tools.
Ambition from the Greek: Strong's Concordance #5389 philotiméomai (from 5384 /phílos, "lover, friend" and 5092 /timḗ, "acknowledged honor") – properly, to show affection for what is personally valued (honored). 5389 /philotiméomai ("aspiring for what is honorable") refers to pursuing (devoting oneself to) what has great personal value.
The three locations the Bible uses this word are Romans 15:20, 2 Corinthians 5:9, and 1 Thessalonians 4:11.
Berean Literal Bible
and thus being ambitious to preach the gospel where Christ had not been named, so that I might not build upon another's foundation.
Therefore, whether we are at home [on earth] or away from home [and with Him], it is our [constant] ambition to be pleasing to Him.
New International Version
and to make it your ambition to lead a quiet life:
Vision and Holy Ambition
The Scriptures above reference making the Gospel known, pleasing God and living a life free from drama. Easy enough for us to agree those are "good" ambitions.
And, it isn't hard for us to believe we should act in love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control - all the beautiful fruit of the Spirit. However, when it comes to dreaming big dreams, we can get stuck wondering if it is okay.
Consider, though, our God desires ALL men be saved and come to the knowledge of Christ. A definite Holy Ambition. He says His Glory will cover the WHOLE earth. And yet again in the Psalms, "ask of Me and I will give you the nations as your inheritance." If we are to imitate God, isn't it important to realize big vision is part of His character? (And please understand, I'm not trying to be snarky here, or count myself as equal to God and what I should desire. However, as His child, I believe His desires should become my desires; that all would be saved, His glory would cover the earth, and to desire to "possess" the nations for His glory.)
Old Testament & New Testament
The promises God made to Old Testament saints are HUGE! Nations, prosperity, homes they didn't build, defeated enemies without raising a hand, waters parting, rocks with water pouring out, clothes that didn't wear out and food on the ground every morning. God intended these blessings to bring the direct result that people would look at the nation of Israel and know that THEIR God is the true and living God. And in seeing those blessings on God's people, they would also turn to him.
Yet in modern New Testament days, we shrink from boldly proclaiming the favor of God, His earth-transforming mandate, and our place of reigning in life by Christ Jesus (Romans 5:17). Without a doubt, many retreat from those terms because of excesses and poor doctrine. But, can you agree it doesn't change the fact we are to declare "on earth, as it is in heaven" (Matthew 6:10), and that we are weapons of righteousness in God's hand (Romans 6:13)?
Imitate Me as I Imitate Christ
HERESY! Oh wait, it's in the Bible. Paul told the Corinthian believers in 1 Corinthians 11 to imitate him just as he imitated Christ. So, we know the Bible and Holy Spirit clearly call us to be imitators of God (Ephesians 5:1) as dearly loved children. Jesus told us He only did what He saw the Father do. (John 5:19). Without question, just as natural children imitate their earthly parents, God calls us to imitate Him.
A Biblical Mandate
I believe Ephesians 2:10 is one place in the New Testament where we can see God's divine mandate for holy ambition in His children.
For we are his workmanship, having been created in Christ Jesus for good works that God prepared beforehand so we may do them.
Recently, I heard the most incredible point of view on this scripture. The minister states God created the "good work" and then fashioned a person around that work. Surely it helps us grasp the work isn't something we make up to feel better, or valuable, or purposeful. The work is, in fact, a holy calling. Through it, we bring glory and praise to God. But beyond that, the things we do in this world bring beauty and attractiveness to the Gospel of the Kingdom of God.
New King James Version
that they may adorn the doctrine of God our Savior in all things.
The Lord is looking for people who will represent Him in the earth. Remember this verse?
New Living Translation
Then I heard the Lord asking, “Whom should I send as a messenger to this people? Who will go for us?” I said, “Here I am. Send me.”
What Does Holy Ambition Look Like Every Day?
I've written other articles that outline what I believe Scripture says about prosperity and favor for our lives. This article is simply to encourage you to dream bigger dreams and know it is okay to do so.
God created us in His image. He has a giant plan for the whole earth to know Him. And, He created a seemingly impossible way for that to happen. Along with the foolishness of the Cross of Christ, He uses frail, fault-ridden humans to be messengers and carriers of His glory.
Ultimately, as we center ourselves to imitate His heart, then our work and play become anointed with His fragrance. His love and mercy emanate from us. Miraculously, we become the carriers of hope and mercy in our everyday interactions at work, in the grocery store and on the soccer field.
Deuteronomy 8:11-18 helps us remember our place in all of this:
Finally, if you find yourself stuck trying to figure out how to balance your ambition and your faith, I can help. Schedule your complimentary clarity call with me today.