Many admire people with ambition - talented men and women who have the willpower to plan and reach their goals. They aim to graduate with honors, execute a well-written business plan, help a community, publish a book, be someone famous, climb up the peak of the corporate ladder. Better think twice though. Not all of them will taste a sweet, serene and successful life. The road of ambition does not always lead to a happy ending. There's a fork somewhere along the way that leads to sin and destruction. And where they will end up depends on one thing. No, it's not intellect or talent. It lies in the heart: a self-centered or God-centered heart.
This foretells the quality of life and of ambition. A self-centered heart aims at highfalutin goals to serve their selfish ambition. This welcomes sin. They envy. (According to Donald Whitney, self-seeking ambition has a partner: BITTER ENVY). They lie and boast about their plans. They politick to influence a bigger network or you step on a colleague to reach your dream. They cheat and steal. They can't find any reason to rejoice and be thankful for. At the end of the day, they lie wide awake at night feeling hopeless and empty. If you are on this track, pause. Take a deep breath. Reflect and make a u-turn.
And if you have decided to drop your ambition altogether and enter a life with no joy, no passion and no motivation, then you're at the opposite end of the equilibrium where sins are also apparent. It may be disbelief in God or plain laziness that have led you to a stand-still. This is not any better than the first.
A God-centered heart on the other hand "eagerly aspires for something that is right and good in God's sight. Such ambition may be for things great or small, as long as the goal, method and motivation are God-centered" (p.132). The bible reveals another aspect of ambition in 1 Thessalonians 4 "make it your ambition to lead a quiet life." It speaks more of our motives and objectives. Are we doing it for the Lord or for ourselves? A drive for selfish ambition doesn't ever lead to a quiet life.
I hope that you will take this moment to clarify your ambition. What is your goal after 5 years? What are you aspiring for? Who or what is the main objective? According to the Bible we should "make it our goal to please Him.." (2 Corinthians 5:9). If pleasing God falls behind our selfish aspirations, then our spiritual life is on for a sharp decline.
Note: This entry is based on the article "Clarify Your Ambitions" in Donald Whitney's book Simplify Your Spiritual Life.