When Our Ambition Kills the Mission

We all want to be great but, we have to be careful that our ambition to be great doesn’t become an idol and interfere with our mission from Jesus. So what is our mission and what's Jesus' definition of greatness? 

When Our Ambition Kills the Mission

Do you want to be great?  Of course you do, because we all like to know and feel like we are making a difference with our lives.  However, we have to be careful that our ambition to be great doesn’t become an idol and interfere with our mission from Jesus.  So how do we do that you ask?  Well let’s take a look at scripture to get our answer.

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What is the Mission?

The mission for all of us is in this life it to first love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength and second, to love our neighbors as ourselves (see Matthew 22: 36-39 below).

Matthew 22:36-39 – 36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”

37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’[a] 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[b] (NIV)

Pretty straight forward mission and easy to remember, but not always easy to put into practice.

What does Being Great Have to do With the Mission?

I don’t know about you but sometimes (OK, a lot of times) my ambitions, goals, and to-do list take center stage.  I put God on the back burner after my morning devotions/readings and I lose sight of the mission in the ensuing chaos.

For those of us that work outside the home it’s easy to get caught up in the definition/culture of secular success.  The corporate world promotes hard work, long hours, dedication, going the extra mile, doing whatever it takes to put yourself ahead of everyone else.  Outside of the last point just made, those items are not bad in and of themselves.  D.L. Moody has a fantastic quote to sum up this paragraph and it goes like this,

“Our greatest fear should not be of failure, but of succeeding at something that doesn’t really matter. – D.L. Moody”

Biblical Greatness Defined

In order to be great, Jesus tells us to not put ourselves first but to put others first.  The second calling in our mission here on earth.  Let’s look at Matthew 20:25-28 to read exactly what Jesus’s thoughts where on this subject of greatness;

Matthew 20:25-28 25 Jesus called them together and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. 26 Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, 27 and whoever wants to be first must be your slave— 28 just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (NIV)

Jesus is telling us the complete opposite of what the world is telling us.  Think of the best boss you have ever had.  What about the best friend you have ever had?  Were they self-serving and careless people? Or did they go out of their way to help you in time of need, and possibly help even when you weren’t in need.  This is what true greatness looks and feels like.  We can draw people to Christ through our service to others as well as to one another.

I want to end this post with a quote from our Pastor.  This quote sums up what it means to be great and accomplish the mission all in one;

“We get to people’s heart through service, not through force.”


Question from Garrett Thompson, the author.

How do you channel personal ambition into Jesus' Mission?

Written by Garrett Thompson

Joshua 1:9 - I’ve commanded you to be strong and brave. Don’t ever be afraid or discouraged! I am the Lord your God, and I will be there to help you wherever you go. (CEV)

7 thoughts on “When Our Ambition Kills the Mission

  1. Some days it’s easy to put God first. Some days…it’s not. I wake up with good intentions but somewhere along the way before I’ve had my second cup of coffee…I am at the ‘me’ focus instead of God focus. I’m so grateful for God’s infinite grace and love.

  2. Man this is an amazing post… so much wisdom and value in it.

    This is an area I need help in. I’m naturally an ambitious guy. I need to make sure that I am always surrendering and re-focusing on God

  3. I needed to read this, and re-think how I was going to write something. God is so great! Thank you for this post.

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