I just finished a book titled Thriving in Babylon and in the book it talks about selfish ambition. The author, Larry Osborne, talks about how when John and James of Zebedee’s mother approached Jesus to ask Him if her two sons could sit on his left hand & right side when in heaven, he mentions that Jesus didn’t rebuke them for having ambition but instead he rebuked them for not understanding the sacrifice it would take in order to have that honor.
Yesterday I had the privilege to sift through my all email inbox on my gmail account. I started with the oldest first and the newest last. I was deleting emails from 2005! It truly brought back so many memories of my early days of starting a website. I couldn’t believe it had been 10 years.
I remember my first website, it was called Moms Making a Difference. I had such big dreams for it. Even though my dreams for that website never panned out, I have such fond memories of sitting down with my legal pad and just dreaming about my website and hoping that it was going to make a difference in the world.
Actually, I used to be sad that my vision for the website never came to pass, but now that my vision for today has changed, I am at a point where I can just appreciate the process it had brought me through.
As I was deleting email I had this rush of wisdom come over me. With each passing year of emails to delete I remembered the beginning struggles.
I reflected on how my vision for my website and what I actually wanted to gain from working from home were two completely different things.
I think the biggest lesson I had learned was that I wish I had been more focused instead of trying to rush everything to come into fruition.
Back then I had ambition, and to be honest it was probably selfish ambition.
Even though I may have started off my new online venture with the wrong heart, I am thankful for the wisdom I had gained through the years. I feel it has truly given me the maturity I need for this season in my life.
I don’t ever want to be the person is a discouragement to anyone from pursuing something that God has placed on their heart and that they are passionate about. But I think Jesus was right when he rebuked them for simply not knowing the cost.
I know I didn’t understand the cost when I started to follow my dream.
I had no idea that it would not turn out the way I had hoped, except that it would be so much better.
I have had to work past my fears, selfishness, and my own desires.
We need to understand that it’s selfish ambition when we just want the fame or the position but we aren’t willing to do the work it takes.
I heard a quote recently where the pastor said: Our job isn’t our purpose, it’s our mission field.
Too often we are hesitant to let go of our job or “calling” because we feel it is our purpose in life.Ambition isn’t the enemy, but unrealistic expectations and wanting to build something that exalts you, is.
Something I wish my heart would have listened to back then is that it is a process , and to remain focused on building God’s Kingdom rather than building my platform.
My heart says that sometimes in our encouragement when it comes to “dream big” and casting a vision is just wrong, and maybe even a little selfish.Sometimes we need to pause and ask ourselves the question: “Who am I doing this for?”
If it’s to simply build our platform, or to change someone or fix them, or if it is to create culture and influence those around us, then honestly I truly feel we are doing these things for the wrong reasons.
Why would James and John want to sit beside Jesus in heaven?
Are we truly willing to sacrifice what we need to sacrifice in order to build God’s kingdom, not ours.
Everything we do and say should point back to Jesus.
As we grow, we will realize the time, effort, and sacrifice it takes to truly walk the path that God has set before us.
This path won’t always be easy, and if we are expecting to gain over night then we truly do not value the sacrifice and the work that goes behind the final result.
James and John saw Jesus as the son of God, and maybe they even marveled at the thought that Jesus was going to be sitting at the right hand of God when everything was said and done. But please, don’t forget or overlook what Jesus had to endure in order to sit at the right hand side of God Himself. Because if you do overlook it then you are missing the entire point!
I remember shortly after I had my daughter, I walked into my dad’s office and grabbed his typewriter, I told him I was going to write a book.
A couple short years later I was living in my own apartment with my daughter and my new husband, we had just gotten our first computer. I remember sitting up late at night after my daughter went to bed and my husband was at work, I started writing my book, again.
Needless to say, I never finished those books.
I still want to write a novel, but let me also say, it is so difficult! As I go through this process that has expanded over years of starting, not finishing, and starting again on my novel I have come to appreciate what it takes to simply write a novel.
I think about all these amazing novel writers and I now have a glimpse and a taste of what it feels like to be a novel writer. It’s not glamorous or even prestigious, although we might look at authors that way. But we just see the finished product without ever considering what it took to get that finished book.
We need to realize that ambition is just the beginning. Throughout the process is where the true treasure lies.
We will be tested, fail, give up, and start over again. This is why we need to be sure this is the path we are to take, then we need to commit to it. We need to focus, and be flexible, always listening to the promptings of the Holy Spirit, because once we set off on this journey we will often wonder how we will ever endure to the end. But that’s our goal, to endure to the end and finish the race.
No matter what Christmas was for us in the past, it seems like every year it has the opportunity, and the possibility, to be something completely different and brand new. That’s what Jesus brought with Him as He was born into this world; He brought with Him a clean slate, a fresh start, and something brand new to our lives and to our faith.
Today I invite you to come and take this imperfect advent journey with me to discover the beauty of the good and perfect gifts God has given us through His Son Jesus. Let us journey together to discover what those gifts are, how we can receive those gifts, and most importantly the importance of being a good steward of those gifts.