Is Ambition Unbiblical?

In Light of Eternity, What Pursuits Will Bring the Greatest Rewards?

mla apa chicago
Your Citation
Zavada, Jack. "Is Ambition Unbiblical?" ThoughtCo, Oct. 4, 2016, Zavada, Jack. (2016, October 4). Is Ambition Unbiblical? Retrieved from Zavada, Jack. "Is Ambition Unbiblical?" ThoughtCo. (accessed October 24, 2017).
Is Ambition Unbiblical?
Image Source / Getty Images

Every man has a competitive nature, and Christian men are no different.

But as we strive to fulfill our ambitions, are we doing something that’s contrary to God’s law? Is ambition, especially in our career, unbiblical?

Jesus addressed the dilemma Christian men face today:

"No servant can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other.

You cannot serve both God and money." (Luke 16:13 NIV).

His warning sounds pretty clear. We may not despise God because of our job, but it’s dangerously easy to grow cold toward Him.

Let’s face facts. Everything costs money, from the necessities of life to the luxuries we all enjoy, and we get that money by working for it. Typically, the harder you work or the more hours you put in, the more money you make.

If you have children, you want to provide them with everything you can, from dental braces to a college education. In between are toys, clothing, computers, electronic gadgets, vacations, and everything else that makes life more enjoyable.

Along the way, if we excel at what we do, we get promoted, gain an impressive title, and earn respect by being someone important. And yet if we’re not extremely careful, our career can crowd God right out of our life.

It’s no coincidence that most of the men who are actively involved in their church are retired.

When they were working, they were either at work during the day or resting at home in the evening so they’d have enough energy to get up the next morning and do it all again.

So where do we draw the line with our ambition? Must we choose between God and money? Can’t we have both?

All God, All the Time

If you’re a Christian, you never truly separate God and work.

Just because you’re on the clock doesn't mean you can’t pray, praise and worship God throughout the day. This kind of constant communication should be secret because its purpose is not to impress others. It’s to acknowledge that God is the true master in your life, not your job.

The man who remembers God throughout the work day is not only more productive, but he also enjoys his work more since he puts it into an eternal context. Serving coworkers and customers becomes not a nuisance but rather a privilege.

Certainly God’s laws should govern our conduct at work as well. If your job requires that you consistently violate biblical principles of honesty and fairness, it’s time to look for a new place to work. How seriously you take that obligation shows who is truly your master.

Your job should not consume so much of your time that you’re unable to attend church services. In the 35 years that my father worked rotating shifts in a glass bottle factory (days, afternoons, nights), he always went to church on Sunday, even if he had to go early in the morning after working all night.

Heavenly Things Now

Material goods can be seductive—a flashy car, large house, even exotic vacations—but if we covet those status symbols, it’s a warning signal that we’re serving money instead of God.

We need to spend more time on our spiritual growth than on the growth of our investment portfolio. Our relationship with Jesus Christ should come before our relationship with our stock broker.

Regular Bible study brings God’s timeless truths into your life in the here and now. Business fads come and go, but this source of wisdom is always reliable. A power lunch with the wealthiest executive in the world pales in comparison to personal guidance from the Creator of the Universe, found in his Word.

If, as Christian men, we have our priorities straight, we'll be able to earn a good living while living a good life. In today’s uncertain economy, it’s rare to work at one company until your retirement, but as a believer, you’re guaranteed a place with Christ for all eternity. That truth alone should put things into the proper perspective.

Choosing the Right Kind of Ambition

There’s an old saying that no man on his deathbed ever regretted not spending more time at work. We'll take none of our status symbols or money with us into heaven. We will take our character, our kindness to others, and our love for our Savior.

The most thrilling challenge for Christian men is not to become CEO of a multinational corporation, but to let God conform us to the likeness of His Son. This is the ambition worth pursuing. This is the service with the greatest rewards.

When we choose to serve God ahead of money, we may find that the Lord blesses us with material wealth as well, but even if He doesn't, we have still chosen the better part that cannot be taken away from us.

In his book Success God’s Way, Charles Stanley says, "In good times and bad times, on mediocre days and exhilarating days, in periods of joy and periods of heavy toil, our stance before the Lord must be, 'Heavenly Father, you’re in charge. I have no success other than what You help me achieve. I trust You to order my steps.'"