In our society we are encouraged to be ambitious and chase after success. There is talk on “levelling up”, “getting in your bag”, “being where the money resides”; just to name a few examples of popular terms used. We deem a person successful when they have reached a certain level in life which can look like wealth, material possessions and status. Being successful is being defined externally by the culture. But as Christians, what does our view of success look like and how can we strive for a healthy view on ambition?
There is nothing wrong with striving to achieve more from our careers, to learn more skills, to study more through education and improve our already God given talents. Being an ambitious person is admirable, we should aspire to become better. However, if our goal is tailored only to worldly attributes (accomplishments), and the heart of our pursuit is merely to gain money, followers or materials items, then we are, as Solomon describes, chasing after the wind (Ecclesiastes 2:11).
We should check our hearts on the reason for our ambition to ensure we do not become like the rich young ruler who was not ready to give up the possessions for something greater. In Luke 18:18, Jesus offers the chance for the young man to have eternal life (to follow him), however he had many possessions and was not ready to part ways with them (Luke 18:23). He valued the things of the earth over the Saviour of the world. And sometimes we can be like that too.
Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things will be added to youMatthew 6:33
God knows what we need more than we do. The financial and careers goals we desire can be achieved through God. The birds of the air and the plants do nothing yet God provides for them, how much more as His children will He provide for us (Matt. 6:26). God knows what we need before we ever say a word.
Learning to be content
We are blessed with gifts, talents, and skills. We must learn to be content with what we have whether they elevate us to positions in the spotlight or not. God receives the glory when, with everything we do, we work to the best of our ability (Colossians 3:23). Everything we have is a blessing for the glory of God. Nothing is insignificant in the kingdom of God (1 Corinthians 12:22-23). The famous parable in Matthew 25:14-30, expresses this sentiment.
Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your masterMatthew 25:21
The master went on a journey and gave three servants “talents” (other translations refer to this as gold) according to their abilities (vs 15). When the master returned, he looked at what each had done. He was not comparing based on the quantity, rather it was specific to each person. Only one looked at their gift as insignificant in comparison to the others and did nothing (vs. 18). The master was disappointed that the talent given was not used (vs. 27). We have to realise what God has given us, whether a special talent, a gift, or unique personality trait can and should be used for His glory.
When we remember we are here to do the will of the Father, we will seek to glorify God in all that we do. As this becomes our focus, we learn to surrender the applause and the validation knowing that our reward is elsewhere. At the end, the measure will not be how famous we became, it will be what we did with what we were given.