Are you ambitious? That’s a really loaded question. If we answer “yes” then we run the risk of being perceived as selfish, driven, neglectful, insensitive, demanding and lots more. If we answer “no” then we might be perceived as unmotivated, lethargic, non-productive, aimless and inert. No matter what your answer is, the external perceptions aren’t as important as your internal motives. To this end, if insecurity, fear, selfishness, pride impatience, anxiety, etc drive our ambition, then the chances for a trainwreck and hurting others skyrocket.
I’ve been thinking about ambition as I’ve been reading about David being anointed to be king & then running from King Saul for ten years, just to stay alive. In these ten years, David has some opportunities to kill Saul & take the throne which would be ambitious and easy to justify because Saul was a jerk & David was anointed by Samuel to be Saul’s replacement. But David kept his ambition in check because he valued God’s anointing.
Furthermore, when Saul & Jonathon were killed in battle, David didn’t promote himself as king to save the day for Israel. When David heard that Saul & Jonathon were dead, his immediate reaction was to grieve and write a lament about the loss of these important men. In relation to David’s possible ambition to become the next king of Israel, it’s very insightful look at David’s words and action in 2Samuel 2:1, “Then it came about afterwards that David inquired of the Lord, saying, “Shall I go up to one of the cities of Judah?” And the Lord said to him, “Go up.” So David said, “Where shall I go up?” And He said, “To Hebron.”
In this verse and the succeeding verses, I see several helpful keys for being ambitious:
- Seeking God: raw ambition is often impulsive. As a result, seeking for God’s input and direction is a very effective way to prevent the fallout from hasty, impulsvie and raw, unchecked ambition. After mourning the death of Saul and Jonathon, David’s first action was to seek God.
- Clear Direction: David had two questions for God. The first was about action and the second was about location. When we seek God, that helps to neutralize the impulsive nature of ambition. Once we have some input from God, it’s helpful to pause for more clarity, direction and input from God.
- Be committed: once David had God’s input and direction, he moved to Hebron, took his wives, kids and all of his loyal followers to settle down and reside in Hebron. If we are driven by raw ambition, it can be very difficult to put down our roots and be committed in a community, in relationships, a church job, marriage etc.
- Get confirmation: once David, his family and followers moved to Hebron, we still don’t see David being pushy, assertive, demanding nor self-promoting. On the contrary! In 2Sam 2:4 we read, “Then the men of Judah came and there anointed David king over the house of Judah.” From my perspective, David waited for Judah to come to him. Maybe we could say that ambition pursues but anointing pauses and waits.
- There’s more: even though David was anointed to be King in Judah, the rest of Israel didn’t accept David to be their king until seven years later. Unfortunately, human ambition settles for less than God’s best and fullest promise. Patience can vaccinate our human ambition so that we receive the full potential of God’s promises.
If God puts a dream in your heart for your life, let your highest priority be to walk with God even more than achieving God’s goal or dream. Walking with God will get you to the dream God puts in your heart, along with shaping your character, deepning your relationships and most importantly, knowing God with ever increasing intimacy. Let’s make our life’s ambition to revolve around knowing God and letting God be known through our lives!