No minister wants to be perceived as self-centeredly ambitious. Yet what church would want a complacent pastor with no discernible ambition? We wrestle with ambition: How much is necessary? Will we ever quit worrying about having as many in worship as the church across the street?
Good, holy ambition drives the mills of excellent ministry, helps us accomplish tasks the un-ambitious might deem impossible, transforms churches, and maximizes gifts. Raw ambition, on the other handÂ—the desire to claw our way to the topÂ—pours sand in the ministry gears and forces the machinery to produce an unholy product: human pride.
Predictable occasions awaken questions of ambition and force the issue:
- Decisions. Should our gifts be used in as large an arena as possible? Or is that just raw ambition wanting to make a bigger splash? Any decision to launch something significant in ministry carries with it questions of personal ambition.
- Comparisons. The call of a seminary CLASSmate to a prestigious ministry triggers self-questioning for many of us: Why him and not me? Have I done as well? Or we may compare our status and salary with other professionals, such as physicians.