Day 5: Godly Ambition
These days, many people view “ambition” as evil—as aggressive striving for achievement, distinction, power, honor, fame, or wealth at the expense of others. It’s surprising, then, to find the apostle Paul freely admitting he is an ambitious man. To the Christians in Rome he writes:
“From Jerusalem all the way around [the Mediterranean Sea] to Illyricum, I have fully proclaimed the gospel of Christ. It has always been my ambition to preach the gospel where Christ was not known, so that I would not be building on someone else’s foundation. . . . But now that there is no more place for me to work in these regions, and since I have been longing for many years to visit you, I plan to do so when I go to Spain. I hope to see you while passing through, and to have you assist me on my journey there, after I have enjoyed your company for a while.” – Rom 15:19b-20, 23-24 (NIV)
Paul has much to teach us here at Point University. First, he pursued not a self-serving ambition, but a Christ-serving ambition. Christ had commanded his followers to “go and make disciples of all nations” (Matthew 28:19). Paul had embraced the Lord’s redemptive mission, making it his own. He pursued not a self-centered ambition, but a godly ambition.
Paul pursued not a self-serving ambition, but a Christ-serving ambition.
Second, Paul pursued his ambition with purpose and intentionality. The Roman world surrounded the Mediterranean Sea. One look at a map reveals the apostle’s strategy for reaching that world for Christ. Starting in Jerusalem, he had systematically traveled around the sea, planting churches in major population centers. So far, he had worked through the regions making up modern-day Israel, Lebanon, Syria, Turkey, Greece, and the western Balkans—all the way to Illyricum in the vicinity of Croatia. Next, he planned to move on to Rome, Italy, spending little time there since the gospel had already gained a foothold. Then he planned to travel on through France into Spain. After planting churches in Spain, perhaps he intended to continue around the sea through North Africa, making the full circuit back to Jerusalem. Paul not only had ambition; he had a clear plan for achieving that ambition.
Third, Paul was prayerfully and diligently working the plan, remaining open to the Lord’s daily leading (as when the vision directed him into Macedonia rather than Bithynia in Acts 16:6-10) with a willingness to endure even suffering and personal hardship to accomplish the Lord’s will (2 Corinthians 11:23-33).
Godly ambition plus careful planning plus a prayerful commitment to persevere is a powerful combination.
Like Paul, we here at Point University have embraced a godly ambition—the mission of “educating students for Christ-centered service and leadership throughout the world.” Are we pursuing that mission purposefully and intentionally, planning how we may use every course design, every class session, every encounter to influence students and the community for Christ? Are we doing the bare minimum or “going the second mile” (Matthew 5:41)? Are we wasting opportunities or, like Paul, “making the most of every opportunity” (Ephesians 5:16)? May the Lord fulfill His gracious ambitions through us!
Written by Dr. Chris Davis, Vice President for Graduate & Professional Studies