In my last post I mentioned dinner with the Rozkos and Annie. During this dinner, J.R. asked a very Spirit-inspired question: Am I able to discern the difference between holy ambition and ambition for personal gain. No. I am not. I am not able to do that at all. I am not even sure that I intellectually know the difference. It is easier to see the difference when I am in a situation, but still fuzzy most of the time.
The thing that I find the most challenging in this is that my motives are mixed all of the time. I would like to be in a situation, know that it is all holy ambition or ambition for personal gain and then be able to reject the unhealthy ambition, pull myself out of the situation, submit it to the Lord, or in some other way take appropriate action. But it is not that simple.I have so much pride in me. Even now as I type this, I am writing for you, my audience. I want to know what you will think. Do you find me witty? Entertaining? smart? helpful? an expert in my subject? And I can see that this is exactly what the Spirit was after in that comment, but I can’t let it go. I want this. I want it badly. I want it so badly that at times I feel blinded to all other things. It is a good and noble and worthwhile goal – to serve those in youth ministry and to help impact the way that people do youth ministry. But even that sounds prideful. That is prideful.
Each situation is so muddled. I want to do something both because it is my calling, because it is serving the Lord, because it glorifies Him to use my gifts, AND because it comes with the spotlight, because I have a goal that I want to pursue, and because it feeds the people-pleasing, fame-seeking part of me. I cannot just throw my motives out of the window or withdraw from the task at hand.
Instead I am left to sift through the internal mess. What is the difference between these ambitions? I do think there is such a thing as godly ambition. All kinds of things that come from God are gutsy- when was the last time God balked at say, reaching people from every tribe and nation, or saving the souls of humans, or at defeating Satan, or at creating a universe? How many men and women have been lead into incredibly ambitious tasks? It seems in line with asking us to cultivate our talents and spiritual gifts, and with participating in God's actions in the world. I think that I have godly ambitions, they are just intertwined with ungodly ones so that any given task or opportunity comes from both places in me. I have no idea how God is going to redeem this in me, but I know that He will. Oh, will He! About this, I have no doubts. This sin and mixing of motives was brought to the surface for one reason- to take care of it. It's the process that is a bear.