4 Reasons You Must Be Ambitious: Reason 4: You’re Never Ambitious Enough

This rounds out my brief, admittedly soapboxy celebration of ambition in the church planting community. (Check out Reasons 1, 2, and 3).

The ambitious church planter is looked down upon by his status-quo-preserving peers and elders. Looked upon as naive. As arrogant. As an upstart. As anti-authoritarian.

And of course some of this tar and a few of the feathers find warrant.

But it’s my contention that you simply don’t have a church planter without the annoying ambition that comes with him.



No matter how large, your vision is too small. – Thomas Chalmers

I just got back from vacation to Savannah, Georgia. I fell in love with the city—its history, its architecture, its youthful vibrancy intermingling with old money. And, as usual, the spell was cast upon me: “What would it be like to live here? Could I plant a church here? Are these people being reached?”

Whenever I travel, I am struck by just how provincial a place like Rock Hill, South Carolina is. Compared to Savannah, Rock Hill is not much.

But the provinciality extends further. Compared to Charleston, Savannah is not much. Compared to New York, Charleston is not much. Compared to Tokyo, New York is not “not much” but it’s half the size. The US only has 2 cities in the top 20 Global Cities in terms of population. In many respects, North America is becoming rather provincial.

After the wanderlust and the wonder-lust wears off, I settle back into my place. But I inevitably see it with new eyes.

What usually happens is this:

I laugh at myself for thinking we are such hot stuff. For thinking we are the center of the universe. For thinking that my church is doing something entirely new.

But then something happens.


The problem with immature ambitious people is that they vacillate between “I’M GOING TO SAVE THE WORLD!” and “I’m nobody. I’ll just crawl under this rock.” I know from experience.

But mature ambitious church planters recognize and embrace their provinciality. They know they’re not going to save the world. But they also recognize that their own context and neighborhood are very much theirs for the gospelling. That their community is ripe for the harvest. That the gospel mustard seed that they plant is actually meant to grow into a large tree with gospel shade and gospel produce.

A fresh look at the bigness of the world produces a feeling of smallness.

This feeling of smallness mustn’t cause you to retreat, but to recognize that there’s a whole world of possibility right under our noses—not just “way out there” in some bigger, more influential place.

Even for your own community, your ambition is never ambitious enough.

Thou art coming to a King,
Large petitions with thee bring;
For His grace and power are such,
None can ever ask too much.

– John Newton

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