Ambition Check: Is My Ambition to Serve Others?

In his classic book Spiritual Leadership*, J. Oswald Sanders begins by questioning the leaders heart by posing this question, “Should it not be the office that seeks the man, rather than the man that seeks the office?” The question comes from his use of I Timothy 3:1: “To aspire to leadership is an honorable ambition.” (NEB) He points out that the verse read much differently in the time IN which it was written because church leaders then were subjected to peril and persecution.

Sanders also bring to attention Jeremiah 45.5, “Should you seek great things for yourself? Seek them not.” Jeremiah warns of self seeking ambition or seeking great things for your own name. Today Christian leadership confers prestige and privilege not an undertaking of risk for the gospel. It is not the position of leadership but the function of leadership that is the God honoring desire. Unworthy ambition easily induces self seeking men to covet and conduct leadership in unscriptural ways.

Christ and later Paul made it clear that he came to serve, not to be served. Sanders concluded that “True greatness and true leadership is achieved not by reducing men to ones service but in giving of oneself in selfless service to them.”

Ask this question often,” is my ambition to serve others or have I positioned myself to be served by others?” In this way you focus on the Lord’s work to which He has brought you. The answer may have profound effects on ministry effectiveness.

*Spiritual Leadership, J. Oswald Sanders, Moody Press, 1967 (in my leadership library, this book tops the list. In my opinion it is the must read for young aspiring Christian leaders. It is a book I have reread often. It has been revised by Moody Press.)


About the Ordinary Hiker

A Christian camp director for many years, I enjoy ministry and being outdoors. I refer to God's creative wonder as the testimony of creation, a special place where God brings His word to life. Its where I like to be and where God speaks in His gentle voice in the awe of His creative work.
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