I have always considered ambition to be a good thing. Kind of like the opposite of laziness. But clearly scripture tells us ambition can actually be a bad thing…if it’s rooted in selfishness that is.
Phil 2:3 “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves”
Sounds to me like selfish ambition is the opposite of humility which means it is the equivency of pride. Recently I’ve been questioning the hidden agenda behind my own ambition in regards to my career. I hesitate to even call it “my career”, because Christ has, from the start, made it clear that it is His. The diploma and degrees I obtained were His. The jobs I’ve worked and positions I’ve held were all by His design. Looking back on my job experience I see a theme: humility. Now why would Christ go through so much trouble to make sure that my, I mean His, career was established upon a foundation of humility? Well, it must be because the ambition that helped me to complete 2 degrees and several promotions was laced with elements of selfishness and pride. I admit, even in this season, I think of the Apostle Paul when he is at the end of his life and he questions his choice to remain as he is, or go onto heaven to receive his reward.
For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body. Convinced of this, I know that I will remain, and I will continue with all of you for your progress and joy in the faith, so that through my being with you again your boasting in Christ Jesus will abound on account of me.
I am convicted and inspired by Paul’s dedication to the Lord’s bride. His desire is to be with His Lord because He knows it is better than being on earth. He even has a choice in the matter. And yet he chooses to stay, because of His heart for God’s people, which is the Father’s heart. He did not choose to stay simply to store up even more riches in heaven, although he admits that is an added benefit, but the deciding factor for him is God’s people. This convicts me, because when I heard Holy Spirit placing this on my heart regarding my own spiritual assignment in my career, I was honest with Him. “Father, I do not want to stay longer for the people, I want to move on”. And so, as is typical in this pruning process, He keeps me in this place of humility because there is still selfish ambition in my heart that He is removing.
I must bow low.
I must continue bowing low daily, so that He uses me in accordance with His agenda.
He asked me the other morning during our quiet time “Can I use you Nicole?” and I responded that He could. What is different now in my response than when I was younger, is that I understand for God to adequately use someone, He must first refine them. He must remove the “stuff” that hinders them from being used.
Selfish ambition is being removed in me. The world may reward ambition with promotions, and accolades and the like, indeed it has its perks. But like all gifts and strengths, it must be submitted to His ambition, His agenda, so that what really needs to get done gets done. And that is the kingdom of God being made manifest.
So that His will is being done in the earth, as it is in heaven.