Second, there is duty. Many Christians cringe when the word duty is mentioned. But duty should be understood as a means to an end. Duty is disciplined obedience with an eye toward developing a love for that which is practiced. Duty is practicing delight in what delights God until that actual delight is experienced. My wife and I have assigned chores to our children, and they often balk at doing them, but our goal is to help them develop a love of order and work so that the duty underlying them becomes secondary. Discipline and duty are paths to delight.
Christian Identity and Ambition
Another way to grow in godly ambition is for Christians to understand their identity, their place, and their purpose.
Regarding place, each Christian should have a clear, biblical understanding of the nature of their citizenship in the kingdom of God. Understanding that we are children of the Creator and in covenant with Him is fundamental to understanding who we are. Reflecting on kingdom priorities and the final judgment will help us forge godly ambition.
In addition to understanding who we are (place), we need to know why we are (purpose). At the very outset of creation, God tells Adam and Eve what they are to do—we call it the creation mandate (Gen. 1:28). We are called to be fruitful and multiply. Sadly, many who profess Christ have minimized the responsibility to marry and have children. In modern culture, both are considered difficult and even counterproductive to personal freedom and joy. But like the train that wants to be free from the tracks, so are those who look to fulfill their self-appointed destiny contrary to the very creational purposes for which God created mankind. As Christians, we must buck this trend and hold up marriage as a gift from God. Unless we have the rare, specific calling to singleness for the sake of ministry, we should be ambitious to be married, to have children, and to raise godly families.
The mandate to have dominion over the planet addresses the issue of vocation, of calling. Do you see your job as in some way a part of that mandate? You should if it is a lawful job. And when you do see your work as a part of God’s plan, His big picture, then your ambition to do well, to succeed, should grow.
The above mandates relate to the family and the civil realm. But God also placed us in the church. In so doing, He also prescribes for us the role we are to play in our callings as brothers and sisters. God gives each believer a spiritual giftedness (Rom. 12; 1 Cor. 12; Eph. 4; 1 Peter 4) by which we minister to one another. We are also given the mandate to go into the world and proclaim the gospel (Mark 16:15) and to “make disciples of all nations” (Matt. 28:19). Both emphases—internal ministry in the church and external proclamation to the world—are essential to godly Christian ambition and practice.
Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 5:9, “We have as our ambition, whether at home or absent, to be pleasing to Him” (NASB). May this be true of us as well.