I’ll be honest with you: I began reading Rescuing Ambition with something of a chip on my shoulder. I was afraid it would read like many other books masking self-centered self-fulfillment in terms of finding one’s purpose. Also, too often those types of books focus on vocational pursuits, leaving stay at home moms like myself feeling left out, purpose-less and ambition-less.
I was wrong and I’m so glad I was! Rescuing Ambition, in contrast, offers a healthy dose of encouragement for believers of all walks and callings, stay at home or otherwise. Dave Harvey introduces his book by recapturing the essence of godly ambition for the believer. Ambition tends to carry with it negative connotations yet Harvey asserts that we were created hard wired for ambition. In other words, we were made to pursue glory. Our problem is that our ambition is corrupted. Right ambitions pursue God’s glory in all things; our natural ambition pursues our own glory to our own destruction. Our ambition must be rescued, hence the premise (and title) of the book Rescuing Ambition.
I appreciated all of Rescuing Ambition but I especially found the chapters on Ambition’s Path (humility), Ambition’s Contentment and Ambitious Failure encouraging and convicting. Here’s an excerpt:
Christians are flammable. God created us to burn. Not like a match, either—bright and hot but quickly extinguished. That does little good for others and brings little glory to God. Ambitions are like a blowtorch. God ignites them, he points them in the right direction, and eternal work gets done. The flame is sustained by the fuel of grace. God’s work in God’s way for God’s glory. Why burn for anything else?
Most people think of ambition as climbing, upward mobility, always looks for a step up (and willing to step on others to get it). But biblical ambition points in the other direction—the direction Christ traveled. Our Master emptied himself, lighting the path for our ambitions. We’re called to follow him.
As we empty ourselves, we find the fullness of Christ. We look out for other’s rights ahead of our own. We find joy in advancing others’ success. We ask others to help us think realistically about ourselves. We follow Christ, who was in the form of God but made himself nothing.
It’s a paradox: Godly ambition makes us downwardly mobile.
In our Christian culture so remarkably similar to our worldly culture in its pursuit of significance and accomplishment, Harvey’s message is an important one. This is a good book, one that all believers would benefit from. Highly recommended.
Lisa thanks Crossway publishers for providing the review copy of Rescuing Ambition.