new life fellowship

serving jesus christ the king

That man Thierry Henry again

What are your ambitions? I remember that question being asked in English class at school. What nonsense we wrote—one of mine was swimming the English Channel. I suspect we weren’t writing our ambitions, but seeking to impress the teacher.

The ambitions of children differ somewhat from those of adults. But perhaps only in terms of realism. Our ambitions become a little more in tune with our abilities (unless of course you’re on X-Factor).

Ambition is fine, but it has a nasty habit of springing surprises on us. Consider the now infamous Thierry Henry, footballing superstar, and now possibly seeking to switch to Gaelic football, except that he wouldn’t be welcome in Ireland. His ambition to get France to the World Cup finals took a nasty turn for the worse.

Ambition has a habit of narrowing us as individuals. We see our goal and only our goal. Other things that stand in the way become secondary—in Henry’s case, the rules of the game, sportsmanship, integrity, reputation etc. The result becomes all that matters. And it’s true not only for him, but also for us in all sorts of different ways. Consider the pursuit of something ordinary—a quiet evening in. Your aim is peace and relaxation, but your children aren’t aware of that! And in pursuit of your goal, you turn into a screaming threatening monster, resentment and fear is bred, and relationship damaged. Our ambition has blinkered us.

Ambition also has a habit of disappointing us; we get what we aim for, only to find out that it isn’t as fulfilling as we thought. Or we achieve success, only to be eclipsed by others.

Ambition brings fear and anxiety too—what if my goal doesn’t materialise? What if I get it and something threatens it?

Am I saying that we should all be spineless, ambitionless couch potatoes? Certainly not. But there has to be a way of having ambitions that doesn’t narrow us, disappoint us, or threaten us.

The answer is found in Philippians 3:10-11where the apostle Paul sets out his ambition in three strands. He wants to know Christ, he wants to be like Christ, and he wants to be with Christ.

Here is the greatest ambition anyone can have—to know and relate to the infinite God who created the universe, forever. Here is ultimate success. Here is ambition that lasts. Here is an ambition that will never disappoint, be taken from us, threaten us, or narrow us.

Instead, when we get this one right, then all our other ambitions fall into place, and we can enjoy the pursuit of them, whether we get them or not—because our happiness, security, identity isn’t bound up in them, but in who we are before God.

What is your ambition? And where will it take you?