When I grow up I want to....
Updated: Jun 24, 2019
From early childhood we learn to focus on life goals. The biggest of these goals sounds like this, "When I grow up I want to be a(n) ....." I know as a child I wanted with all my heart to be a professional football player. That was soon replaced with the dream of being a professional baseball player. The unending cycle of ever changing life goals continued. With each chapter of my childhood, adolescence, and young adulthood came new life goals. I moved from cartoonist, to landscape company owner, actor, theater owner, and eventually pastor. It was quite the journey. But something I've learned looking back is that, this cycle points to a critical principle in our walk of faith.
Goals in general point to something greater than the goal itself. The goal creates ambition. The definition of ambition is: a strong desire to do or to achieve something, typically requiring determination and hard work. Ambition is the engine behind the achievement. Ultimately AMBITION DIRECTS ACTION. When we want something bad enough our ambition determines our priorities and values which shape our decisions. Ambition is powerful. Throughout my life my ambition drove me to spend countless hours playing and practicing football and baseball, drawing cartoons, acting in plays, running a theater, and now studying the Bible. Ambition isn't a bad thing, it's needed, but in the realm of faith it has to be pointed at the right goal in order for our faith to be alive and well.
What do I mean? First, I would ask you to answer this: What are you living for? What ultimate goal do all your collective goals point to? I would argue that there are only two over arching goals our lives can aim for: TO GLORIFY SELF or to GLORIFY GOD. Both of these create ambition that will determine the course of our day to day lives. Ambition that can bring God's will into all that we do or seek to satisfy our own needs. The inconvenient truth is that you can't chase both goals. They are at odds with one another. How do I know this? Jesus said so.
24 Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. 25 For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.
Our life's goal is either for Christ's glory at the expense of our own perceived needs or it's for our glory at the expense of Christ's will. One goal has to die in order for the other to be achieved. This is necessary because the corresponding ambition determines our actions that will either, put Christ above all else, or bring us along our own path of chasing self glorification which leads to death. The Apostle Paul said:
5 Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. 6 The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace. 7 The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. 8 Those who are in the realm of the flesh cannot please God.
This points directly to the two ambitions that drive all of humanity: SPIRIT OR FLESH. GOD OR SELF. This is why it is so important to take time to check our ambition, because you can't have both operating at the same time. They are at war with one another. The truth is, the life found in Christ is often extinguished by the ambition of self glorification. Our SELF is our greatest enemy, so we have to be aware of our self serving tendencies and put them in check. Easier said then done, but worth the mindset to consistently do so.
Here's some awesome news, as followers of Christ, the Holy Spirit is given to us, transforming our desires, guiding us, and convicting us of God's commands and will for our lives. It's there for all who are in Christ, for those who seek the goal of living out the upward call as a child of God. We just need to be active in seeking that guidance and following it. As we follow we are transformed and strengthened by the Spirit. But this requires the ambition to GLORIFY GOD in all that we do. This ambition will consistently send us to His word and to our knees in prayer. This is how we maintain a God glorifying ambition for our lives.
So, let's all take some time today to answer this question: What are you living for?