Yesterday I started a series of posts about ambition. I’ve come to realize that there is a species of spurious ambitionlessness in church culture. Its victims appear to humbly submit to God’s sovereign lordship and his perfect timing. However, this learned temperament actually often consists of fear and self-preservation masquerading as poise, patience, and humility.
Unfortunately, the chronically low kingdom expectations this non-leadership posture produces are incredibly contagious. Bland, blah, and bored spread quickly and wreak generational havoc on increasingly calcified church cultures.
REASON 2: AMBITION GETS YOU IN OVER YOUR HEAD
So, why must you have ambition?
For many church planters, it is precisely the pall of patheticness that drives them out of the prevailing culture to plant a church in the first place. It’s not the purest of motives or healthiest of catalysts. But if one is going to escape the quicksand of lackadaisical church culture, it sure beats the alternative of leaving the church or even the faith altogether.
Furthermore, behind what appears to be cockiness and self-sufficiency among those planters who break away from a calcified contexts often lies an ambitiousness that is borne out of the deep-seated conviction that Jesus, if he is truly alive and well, is on an ambitious mission to rescue the entire cosmos for his glory and the creation’s good.
TAKE YOUR PICK. YOU’LL PICK RIGHTLY.
If you have to pick between saving your neck and getting in over your head, is there really a debate over which posture demonstrates more confidence in the gospel, more hope in the New Creation, and more alignment of one’s personal interests with the interests of Jesus?
Will you cast vision that you can’t fulfill? Yes.
Will you misidentify the particularities of how God is at work in your community, and end up chasing dead ends? Of course.
Will you say “oops, I was wrong” dozens of times? Sure.
Will you wake up in the middle of the night and realize that your ambitiousness reaches far beyond your own capacity to lead, or even catalyze a movement that heads in the direction of your ambition? I hope so. It’s at that moment when you realize that the ambition of Jesus is grander than yours, and will have to be resourced and fueled by his Spirit through his people.
Being in over your head is precisely the place you need to be, and ambition—even if it’s at times juvenile—will eventually get you there. Jesus himself will have to move you and your church plant onward from there.
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