It’s been a while but today I will be responding to a commission topic. This subject was so graciously suggested by my thoughtful friend K-Lynn, this one reads:
Help! I love Jesus and I am ambitious – How to serve God while pursuing your dreams.
Ambition generally connotes zeal, passion and commitment. It reminds us that we are alive. It is following a directive to the end, to fulfillment. It is a trait most parents hope to deposit into the lives of their children. This is especially because parents who have something, worked hard to have it. In the Caribbean, we know that the majority did not emerge from the womb with gold spoons in our mouths. We are shrouded with maxims like “hard work brings success” and “education is the way out of poverty”. Those of us who put our hands to the plough do so with the awareness of these principles, with the evidence in those who have gone before us.
Direction Determines Things
Ambition is not a fault by any means. It pushes a person to leave a stagnant relationship. It urges a student to study for results. It coaxes a workmate to complete their assigned tasks. Ambitious people like to get things done. Preferably, with a polished finish.
There is godly merit in ambition. We are encouraged in Proverbs to go to the ant if we are sluggards and to find wisdom by considering her ways. The ant, a committed creature, works tirelessly towards storing up food for the Winter. Those who are not ambitious are often sluggards. And the Bible advises against laziness. Sluggards profit nothing because they invest nothing. Meanwhile the diligent obtain much and adhere to Ecc. 9:10. Anything they find worth doing, they do it well. Excellence should mark us. There is no question concerning the fact that ambition propels one to do a multitude of great things. It is powerful. It is like igniting a fire. It is consuming and unstoppable. And as a lover of Jesus, therein lies the cry for help.
Ambition like any other force causes an effect based on its direction. Gravity is defined by a force attracting things in the direction of Earth’s centre. Similarly, the way that ambition can drive a cyclist to win a race for a children’s home, it can drive Lucifer to attempt to lift his throne above God’s. The first thing we should be careful of as ambitious people in pursuit of personal goals is having our aims render our commitment to God obsolete or inactive. As we perform our daily activities we must find ourselves running towards Him. We have to both bring our tasks before Him in prayer and find time within our tasks for Him in study. I have found that when I get consumed in my pursuit of goals to the point that I forget God I quickly find myself out of sorts, banefully weary, confused and complaintive. When communing with God is a priority, things have been more manageable, even when the proverbial storm of life rages. Remember that when we acknowledge Him in all of our ways, He directs our paths.
Create Focused Habits
While in conversation recently with my friend Mama T, I lamented that no mother makes it through the day having completed her to do list. Her response was simple but loaded. She relayed that she learned recently from the author, Crystal Hurst, is that perhaps “your list is too long”. Ambitious people have a gung-ho attitude to cover it all. But sometimes we try to do so much we don’t get through it all and we feel behind. One thing I am trying to do lately is to create focused habits. I try to put very few, urgent tasks first. This requires some sacrifice always but make sure that God always makes the cut. Even if your list involves only making it through the day alive, ensure that time with God finds some measure of priority there. Daniel had very important roles in Babylon but like clockwork he made time to pray. Let us as ambitious people make time to do the same.
Don’t Disregard Little Deeds
Ambitious folk tend to have very big expectations and they are willing to put in the work to realise them. But can I say that when serving God while pursuing dreams, some of the most character defining moments come from the little deeds? When you volunteer to work at the door, visit the sick, work with the youth God sees those little things. Small investments go far in His kingdom. Don’t think your little yeses are meaningless. Don’t disregard the little deeds. Luke 16:10 reminds us that the person who is faithful in little will be faithful in much.
Before Joseph became Prime Minister of Egypt he knew from his dreams that he was called to great things. Yet Joseph did not spend time in prison moping about detours and delays. He did not think himself too much to interpret the dreams of the butler and baker. Make the most of where you are. Work on little deeds for your own dreams while not forsaking little works for God.
This can be tough sometimes. On occasion we may be challenged to do something we feel counters our beliefs or makes us uncomfortable to get where we want to go. Be careful. Do not give up your convictions. Although Daniel had to live in the Babylonian system and custom but refused to defile himself with the food and drink offered. No ambition would have caused him to defile himself. How are we defiling ourselves to gain goals? No ambition should cause us to lie our way through or steal or sleep our way to the top or sell others out. Integrity comes in tandem with any worthwhile ambition. Let us try our best to keep it.
Remember He is with you.
Always remember this. It is so easy to become discouraged especially when we don’t see a plan coming together. Determination to accomplish great things can take us along a very lonely road full of unsupportiveness, underappreciation, exhaustion, anxiety and depression. Reaching high is hard. In our purposeful pursuits, God sees our tears, feels our patience and covers us. He remembers you when no one else does. No matter what he went through, scripture echoes: God was with Joseph. He was with him. He is with me. He is with you.
If there is a burning aspiration upon your heart, give it to Him. Sometimes we do not end up where we would like to be but God will take us where we need to be. A life submitted to Him is never one wasted. He will be with us. And if nothing else, we can rest in that.