When Ambition Meets Harsh Reality.
“He’s daydreaming beyond his talents,” Dan said about our buddy. The subject of this remark was an overly ambitious young guy. “He would go so much further if he wasn’t so clueless.”
Unfortunately, most of us were taught at an early age to “hitch our wagons to a rising star.” Our laziness is only exceeded by our groveling and we soon find ourselves under the whimsical control of the rising star we are pandering to. So easy except, when they fall, we fall. The wounds we suffer can cause us to give up a promising career or ministry; less sensitive people quickly look for a new “star” to hang onto, someone else to control their lives. We seldom stop to consider how God figures in all this.
“The rule is simple: Use common sense to keep a check-rein on your daydreams. Moderate your demands on life—and achieve more!” — K. F. Lloyd
“I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgement . . .” “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each one should look not only to his own interests but should also consider the interests of others.” “Follow the way of love and eagerly desire spiritual gifts” — Paul
At some point we are forced to consider if our ambitions are matched by our abilities. Until we do so we are doomed to a roller-coaster ride of hope followed by disappointment; surging faith then bitter frustration. We flog ourselves and struggle with our doubts but our experiences keep pushing us back to two basic concepts: is my ambition based on what God wants me to accomplish in life, and are my talents a match for my vision.
If our ambition is based on what we think others expect or would envy, we are really dabbling with the “pride of life” – even if we succeed in achieving our ambitions we discover they are empty and unfulfilling. It’s possible for us to devote our lives and energy to achieving goals that don’t even matter – we can have the glory of achievement with the knowledge that it was all pointless and futile. Oops.
The old guys had a saying, “Only one life, will soon be passed, only what’s done for Christ will last.” It’s catchy and totally frustrating. How does anyone really know with any confidence “what’s done for Christ?” With choices and pressure from others, endless writers telling us the way to go, guilt trips from others who want to control and direct us . . . not to mention our own desires for greatness and significance . . . so many voices, but do any of them speak for God? Eventually we must come to the place where we center ourselves on who we are and what God has called us to do; we are forced to realize that others can inspire and encourage or even criticize us but it is up to us to work out what God wants for us. No one else can do that for us.
The action of taking the time to work out who we are and what we are called to do is life-changing. Until we do it we are thrashing around investing our time and effort in irrelevant things, or worse still, just sitting around making noises but doing nothing. We have plenty of good company. It takes courage and confidence to face the risk of shutting out all the clamoring voices while we work out the focus for our lives, but there is no other way to develop “informed ambition.” (That’s the sort of ambition that is worth pursuing and produces results we can be excited about.)
Getting our ambition focussed usually takes care of the other concern of matching our talents to our ambitions. Skills we lack can be learned, competencies we need can be developed, linking with others who share our ambition can help cover our gaps. We can find folks to mentor us and we gain a clear understanding of what we need. If we got the focus right, the abilities will follow.
So here’s the picture: Imagine us having confidence in who we are and what we can do – a realistic grip - not blocking others by our incompetence, nor holding back on what we can do, doing what it takes to reach our goals; challenged and challenging in the right places.
Posted on July 11, 2012, in Active faith, Leadership, Self-awareness, vision and tagged ambition, Christianity, competing voices, people pleasing, self-confidence, Spiritual gift, talents and abilities. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.