Ambition and Faith
As the seniors prepare to leave SCU, a question arises: What role should ambition play in our faith?
Ambition is a funny little idea, because it’s not entirely one thing or another, but it can easily be used in both positive and negative ways. Ambition is defined as a strong desire to achieve or do something. And as it’s about a desire to achieve or do something, that means that it could be seen in several different lights.
For the stoics and minimalists, they could say that ambition has no place for a virtuous person. That in wanting something, you could be taking yourself away from following the virtues and living life according to the highest forms rather than following your own selfish desires wherever they lead you.
For the cynics, they could easily say that Ambition is Evil. That in wanting something, it will drive you to do evil in the process, with the desire overwhelming all else. This could also hold some water in some biblical examples, such as Gideon’s son, who wanted to be king, and in doing so, became a bane for Israel during his “reign”. Or point to the tumulent reigns in Israel, with different generals, kings and advisors all scheming and causing trouble through their own drive to have power.
But for others and for me, I say that the key word here is something. What is the something that you are aiming for? The path to reach that goal might be dangerous, deadly or decadent, but what is it that you’re reaching for? Is it power? That could be a problem, because it’s all about your own influence. Is it fame? Same deal. Is it a family? What does that look like when you try to reach a family?
Or is it trying to help someone, or build a better world? Is it preaching good news to each other in order to bring comfort and hope? Wanting something isn’t wrong, because if you want something, you’re going to work towards getting it. And if the something you want is something that could help others, why not work towards it?
Now does that mean that wanting something for yourself is wrong? Well, not necessarily. You just need to see it in a larger perspective. Ice cream is great. Having it every day without regards to anything else is a problem. Ambition moves you forward. You just have to see where you’re going in the process.