May 17, 2022

Acts of Ambition

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"With the world so set on tearing itself apart, it doesn't seem like such a bad thing for me to want to put a little bit of it back together." – Desmond Doss

Thoughts and beliefs drive actions. In this series on ambition, we have covered the truth about our desires in Informing Ambition, and how God changes our hearts in Changing Our Ambition. Now, we need to get moving as God calls us to act on our ambition.

Hacksaw Ridge is a true story about how one man, Desmond Doss, stood up for his redemptive ambition and saved many lives in the process.

Desmond Doss, the main character in Hacksaw ridge, was a middle class country boy from Lynchburg, VA. Desmond grew up in the Seventh-Day Adventist church, and, from an early age, the principles of Sabbath observance, non-violence, and fasting were instilled in him. 

During WWII, Desmond was drafted into service by the US Army, and Desmond stood up for his non-violent beliefs as a conscientious objector. As a medic, Desmond is estimated to have saved over 100 lives. In the movie, Desmond says, "While everybody else is taking life, I'm gonna be saving it."

Desmond’s ambition was to live for Christ by saving lives in the midst of WWII. At the time, what seemed like day-to-day busywork became Desmond’s legacy. By serving God where God placed him, Desmond’s work became a testimony to Jesus. 

How will your daily work become your legacy?

When Christ changes our hearts, our ambition and our actions change too. Dallas Willard says it this way. “The result is that the outer life of the individual increasingly becomes a natural expression of the inner reality of Jesus and of his teachings. Doing what he said and did increasingly becomes a part of who we are.”

Surrender Your Work To God

The first thing we need to do with our work is give it back to God — let it go. Yes, ironically we must give up what God gives us. Giving up what God has given us is a major motif of the Christian life. To gain your life, you must lose it. And, if you lose your life, you will gain it (Matthew 16:25). This general truth extends far beyond our beliefs about justification. This action, of giving our work back to God, acknowledges that our work comes from God, can’t be done without God, and is for the purpose of glorifying God (Romans 11:36). By surrendering our work, we become better stewards of what we have been given. Each day, we have the ability to actively seek God first.

Here are some practical practices to help us surrender our work, and get to know God better. 

  • Pray over your workday before you start and as you go about your day — acknowledge that the day, and the work before, you are from, through, and for God. Include the biggest opportunities and challenges you face. Often, you will find yourself amazed how your prayers are answered throughout the day. “Pray without ceasing” – 1 Thessalonians 5:17. 
  • Rest from your work — you don’t have to be “always on.” You should be able to turn off work each day. One way to help you turn off after work is to have one full day, each week, of Sabbath rest. Having a day that is explicitly set apart for rest helps us find rest throughout the week. This will renew your spirit and remind you of who God is. “There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God;  for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from their works, just as God did from his” – Hebrews 4:9-10.
  • Seek God’s truth for decisions — consult God’s word and advisors that know God’s word before making significant decisions. Over time, this should become a spiritual reflex and you will do this in smaller decisions too. “Victory is won through many advisers.” – Proverbs 11:14.
  • Be generous with all the gifts God provides you — give of your money, time and talents to others because God gave them to you. “Be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share” – 1 Timothy 6:18.

Bless Others With Your Work 

“Do to others as you would have them do to you” (Luke 6:31). This means everything we want from work for ourselves — income, promotions, ownership, decisions making, creative freedom and flexibility — we must seek for our coworkers, employees, bosses, customers, and suppliers. In other words, our desire for ourselves to thrive at work ought to be matched by actions that seek the thriving of others, not just ourselves.

Here are some practical ways you can go about blessing others at work.

  • Pray for your coworkers — nothing helps us care for others more than lifting them up before God. Pray for the struggling new team member. Pray for the difficult boss. Pray for teammates you are tempted to compete with for opportunities. Pray that all your coworkers would come to know God. 
  • Pay generously — paying lower wage workers more money is good for employees and the business. Over four years ago, Eric Mason, a Chick-Fil-A owner/operator, started paying his lowest wage workers $17 an hour. “Our retention is around 76%,” he says, “which — compared to the rest of the industry — I’m super proud of. More importantly, the employees have thrived being able to afford homes, cars, better education and medical treatments.” 
  • Give ownership opportunities  — most leaders want everyone in their organization to act like owners in their decision making process. The best way to help employees think like owners is to literally make them owners. Of course, not every organization can have an employee stock ownership plan (ESOP), but every organization can find ways to help employees share the upside of their work — like owners. 
  • Help others grow — many organizations have development plans, yet most development plans offer a one sided analysis of what the company needs. Help coworkers and employees consider their longer term goals and how to grow their skills and careers. Help them find opportunities to experiment with what they enjoy and learn from new situations. Hold them accountable for their growth plan just the way you would want to be held accountable. 
  • Don’t avenge yourself — the biggest opportunity most of us have to bless others is to withhold from “getting even” when someone does something wrong to us. We should love as we have been loved. “Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing. Do not return evil for evil” – 1 Peter 3:9.
  • Make great stuff — the products and services an organization provides should make the lives of their customers better. Aim for more than doing no harm. Design products and serve others knowing specifically how you bless them, and survey often to make sure their lives are enriched. 

Intentionally Build The Kingdom – Make Disciples 

Just as the Apostle Paul and the woman at the well were commissioned to build God’s kingdom upon conversion, Jesus commissions all those who know and trust Him to build His kingdom. This is why we are on earth, to be witnesses for God, to be ambassadors for the kingdom, to make disciples of all nations (Mathew 28:20). 

Here are some practical ways to make disciples. 

  • Pray for God's kingdom to come — this is the first petition in the prayer Jesus taught us for a reason. When we pray for His kingdom to come and His will be done, our hearts and minds will be open to the Holy Spirit leading us in building God’s kingdom until He returns. 
  • Mentor others — find people in the workplace you can teach and train to know God, His love, and His ways. This does not have to be overly religious, this should be modeling first and teaching how God does His work and how we should do ours. “And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable people who will also be qualified to teach others” – 2 Timothy 2:2.
  • Invite them to go with you — wherever you are going. Invite people into your homes, recreational activities, learning conferences, to church, on trips around the world. Invite people to experience a life that is unusually shaped by Christ. Invite people to imitate you as you imitate Christ (1 Corinthians 11:1). 
  • Build an organization that builds the kingdom — when you have the opportunity, build a business or nonprofit with the specific purpose of serving God and His people. This can be in any sector, the difference should be in why it exists, how it works, and what it does that spreads the love of Christ. 

All these suggested acts of ambition are not our way to prove ourselves or earn the love of God. God already loves us perfectly. All these acts will draw us closer to Jesus, make us more like Jesus, and will help us know the love of the Father in spectacular ways. “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father's commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.” – John 15:9-11

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Howard Graham
Howard Graham
Executive Director

"With the world so set on tearing itself apart, it doesn't seem like such a bad thing for me to want to put a little bit of it back together." – Desmond Doss

Thoughts and beliefs drive actions. In this series on ambition, we have covered the truth about our desires in Informing Ambition, and how God changes our hearts in Changing Our Ambition. Now, we need to get moving as God calls us to act on our ambition.

Hacksaw Ridge is a true story about how one man, Desmond Doss, stood up for his redemptive ambition and saved many lives in the process.

Desmond Doss, the main character in Hacksaw ridge, was a middle class country boy from Lynchburg, VA. Desmond grew up in the Seventh-Day Adventist church, and, from an early age, the principles of Sabbath observance, non-violence, and fasting were instilled in him. 

During WWII, Desmond was drafted into service by the US Army, and Desmond stood up for his non-violent beliefs as a conscientious objector. As a medic, Desmond is estimated to have saved over 100 lives. In the movie, Desmond says, "While everybody else is taking life, I'm gonna be saving it."

Desmond’s ambition was to live for Christ by saving lives in the midst of WWII. At the time, what seemed like day-to-day busywork became Desmond’s legacy. By serving God where God placed him, Desmond’s work became a testimony to Jesus. 

How will your daily work become your legacy?

When Christ changes our hearts, our ambition and our actions change too. Dallas Willard says it this way. “The result is that the outer life of the individual increasingly becomes a natural expression of the inner reality of Jesus and of his teachings. Doing what he said and did increasingly becomes a part of who we are.”

Surrender Your Work To God

The first thing we need to do with our work is give it back to God — let it go. Yes, ironically we must give up what God gives us. Giving up what God has given us is a major motif of the Christian life. To gain your life, you must lose it. And, if you lose your life, you will gain it (Matthew 16:25). This general truth extends far beyond our beliefs about justification. This action, of giving our work back to God, acknowledges that our work comes from God, can’t be done without God, and is for the purpose of glorifying God (Romans 11:36). By surrendering our work, we become better stewards of what we have been given. Each day, we have the ability to actively seek God first.

Here are some practical practices to help us surrender our work, and get to know God better. 

  • Pray over your workday before you start and as you go about your day — acknowledge that the day, and the work before, you are from, through, and for God. Include the biggest opportunities and challenges you face. Often, you will find yourself amazed how your prayers are answered throughout the day. “Pray without ceasing” – 1 Thessalonians 5:17. 
  • Rest from your work — you don’t have to be “always on.” You should be able to turn off work each day. One way to help you turn off after work is to have one full day, each week, of Sabbath rest. Having a day that is explicitly set apart for rest helps us find rest throughout the week. This will renew your spirit and remind you of who God is. “There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God;  for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from their works, just as God did from his” – Hebrews 4:9-10.
  • Seek God’s truth for decisions — consult God’s word and advisors that know God’s word before making significant decisions. Over time, this should become a spiritual reflex and you will do this in smaller decisions too. “Victory is won through many advisers.” – Proverbs 11:14.
  • Be generous with all the gifts God provides you — give of your money, time and talents to others because God gave them to you. “Be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share” – 1 Timothy 6:18.

Bless Others With Your Work 

“Do to others as you would have them do to you” (Luke 6:31). This means everything we want from work for ourselves — income, promotions, ownership, decisions making, creative freedom and flexibility — we must seek for our coworkers, employees, bosses, customers, and suppliers. In other words, our desire for ourselves to thrive at work ought to be matched by actions that seek the thriving of others, not just ourselves.

Here are some practical ways you can go about blessing others at work.

  • Pray for your coworkers — nothing helps us care for others more than lifting them up before God. Pray for the struggling new team member. Pray for the difficult boss. Pray for teammates you are tempted to compete with for opportunities. Pray that all your coworkers would come to know God. 
  • Pay generously — paying lower wage workers more money is good for employees and the business. Over four years ago, Eric Mason, a Chick-Fil-A owner/operator, started paying his lowest wage workers $17 an hour. “Our retention is around 76%,” he says, “which — compared to the rest of the industry — I’m super proud of. More importantly, the employees have thrived being able to afford homes, cars, better education and medical treatments.” 
  • Give ownership opportunities  — most leaders want everyone in their organization to act like owners in their decision making process. The best way to help employees think like owners is to literally make them owners. Of course, not every organization can have an employee stock ownership plan (ESOP), but every organization can find ways to help employees share the upside of their work — like owners. 
  • Help others grow — many organizations have development plans, yet most development plans offer a one sided analysis of what the company needs. Help coworkers and employees consider their longer term goals and how to grow their skills and careers. Help them find opportunities to experiment with what they enjoy and learn from new situations. Hold them accountable for their growth plan just the way you would want to be held accountable. 
  • Don’t avenge yourself — the biggest opportunity most of us have to bless others is to withhold from “getting even” when someone does something wrong to us. We should love as we have been loved. “Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing. Do not return evil for evil” – 1 Peter 3:9.
  • Make great stuff — the products and services an organization provides should make the lives of their customers better. Aim for more than doing no harm. Design products and serve others knowing specifically how you bless them, and survey often to make sure their lives are enriched. 

Intentionally Build The Kingdom – Make Disciples 

Just as the Apostle Paul and the woman at the well were commissioned to build God’s kingdom upon conversion, Jesus commissions all those who know and trust Him to build His kingdom. This is why we are on earth, to be witnesses for God, to be ambassadors for the kingdom, to make disciples of all nations (Mathew 28:20). 

Here are some practical ways to make disciples. 

  • Pray for God's kingdom to come — this is the first petition in the prayer Jesus taught us for a reason. When we pray for His kingdom to come and His will be done, our hearts and minds will be open to the Holy Spirit leading us in building God’s kingdom until He returns. 
  • Mentor others — find people in the workplace you can teach and train to know God, His love, and His ways. This does not have to be overly religious, this should be modeling first and teaching how God does His work and how we should do ours. “And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable people who will also be qualified to teach others” – 2 Timothy 2:2.
  • Invite them to go with you — wherever you are going. Invite people into your homes, recreational activities, learning conferences, to church, on trips around the world. Invite people to experience a life that is unusually shaped by Christ. Invite people to imitate you as you imitate Christ (1 Corinthians 11:1). 
  • Build an organization that builds the kingdom — when you have the opportunity, build a business or nonprofit with the specific purpose of serving God and His people. This can be in any sector, the difference should be in why it exists, how it works, and what it does that spreads the love of Christ. 

All these suggested acts of ambition are not our way to prove ourselves or earn the love of God. God already loves us perfectly. All these acts will draw us closer to Jesus, make us more like Jesus, and will help us know the love of the Father in spectacular ways. “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father's commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.” – John 15:9-11

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