Questions to Consider
•Why is selfish ambition so attractive?
•What are the consequences of selfish ambition?
•How do you overcome selfish ambition?
•How does Christ conquer selfish ambition?
Plan of Action
•Make a list of the ways you see God moving and working around you. Then consider how you might join in.
•Be a part of something bigger than yourself. God’s vision is always bigger than you. I was told as a young pastor to never do ministry alone. If you are doing all the work yourself, then it probably is not God’s work. God’s mission is a mission to share.
You have been told that you can do it if you set your mind to it. If you work hard enough and have enough ingenuity, creativity, and imagination, the sky is the limit. Nothing is impossible. You can do it. This is at the very fabric of the American Dream. The American Dream is about becoming a self-made man or woman. Our nation was founded as the land of opportunity. It was a place that through hard work and ingenuity you had the freedom to achieve your dream.
This all sounds great. However, we must be careful to tread lightly here. There are subtle dangers which lurk. Such talk easily sets us up for disillusionment and worse. While there are many great success stories, there are also stories of epic failures. As much as I desired to become a professional baseball player and lead the Chicago Cubs to their first World Series in over 100 years, it never happened. Our dreams don’t always work out. Sometimes we are left on the outside looking in.
Another danger is that we replace God’s desire for us with “our American Dream.” Our American Dream becomes about bringing attention to our accomplishments. We want the big house, not because we necessarily need the big house. We want the fancy car, not because we need the fancy car. We want them because they are status symbols. They show others that we have made it. They show off how successful we have become. Dave Ramsey puts it into context. He says:
“We buy things we don’t need with money we don’t have to impress people we don’t like.”
“Our American Dream” easily becomes a new religion we passionately pursue. In this new religion God becomes a means to an end. He is there to help us accomplish our dream and the god we worship is ourselves. Our mission is not about accomplishing God’s dream, but accomplishing our dream.
There are many Bible verses that talk about how we can do all things and how we can ask for whatever we want and it will be given us. These are promises, but we need to remember the premises that come before the promises. We need to remember what the promises are about.
The promises of God are about him
We make our strategic plans. We set our agenda. We develop our priorities. We identify our goals and objectives. Then after all that is done, we ask God to come alongside us and bless us.
But what if the starting point was God’s plans? Consider what God is doing and how he is moving. Take a few moments and consider where God is at work. Write it down. As you consider where God is at work, ask yourself how you can join him and be a part of what he is already doing. This is not about asking God to come alongside of us. This is about coming alongside God where he is already at work.
The promises of God are about the community
Many of the promises in Scripture are not given to individuals, but to the community. The translation of Matthew 6:33 reads: “Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness and all these things will be given to you as well.” What a great promise that all things will be given. But don’t miss the premise with the promise. An accurate translation is not “You (singular) seek first the kingdom.” The translation is properly rendered “You (all) seek first the kingdom.” The promise is given to the community called the church as it collectively pursues God’s mission.
The promises of God are about his mission
Another thing about the premises to the promise is they are focused on overcoming for the sake of God’s mission. In Philippians 4:13 Paul talks about how he can do all things through Christ who strengthens him. But he really was not talking about accomplishing ambitious dreams or goals he had set. At the time he was in prison because of his preaching of the gospel. His reference was that he could endure his prison sentence which was a result of the calling placed on his life.
The American Dream seems very appealing, but as we dig deeper we will discover that God’s Dream will trump the American Dream every time. We discover that all our accomplishments in this world don’t really amount to very much. In comparison Jesus has accomplished immeasurably more than we could ever imagine. There is nothing greater we can draw attention to than to draw attention to Jesus.