Jump directly to the Content

Ambition Check

Finding the right balance.

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 hand—the desire to claw our way to the top—pours sand in the ministry gears and forces the machinery to produce an unholy product: human pride.

Problem Circumstances

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.
Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe to Christianity Today magazine. Subscribers have full digital access to CT Pastors articles.

January/February
Support Our Work

Subscribe to CT for less than $4.25/month

Homepage Subscription Panel

Read These Next

Related
Why We Need Plumbers—and Pastors
Why We Need Plumbers—and Pastors
It's essential to affirm all callings, even pastoral ones.
From the Magazine
Blessed Are Those Who Embody the Beautitudes
Blessed Are Those Who Embody the Beautitudes
As we search for meaning in the “blessings,” we must let them transform us.
Editor's Pick
9 in 10 Evangelicals Don’t Think Sermons Are Too Long
9 in 10 Evangelicals Don’t Think Sermons Are Too Long
Even with recent divides in congregations, survey finds high levels of satisfaction among churchgoers.
close