Ambition: Strong desire for success, achievement, or distinction.
I’ve always been an ambitious person. I can say for myself at least, one of the pitfalls of being overly ambitious is how much it devastates me when I fail. And boy have I failed—a lot—at a lot of things.
I can remember in High School sobbing to my mom because I didn’t get the lead in a play I’d auditioned for. Mom’s response was, “I wish you’d stop trying out for these things. You know how upset you get when you don’t get the part.”
But I couldn’t stop trying. I was ambitious and determined to succeed.
After ten or so failures, I eventually landed the lead in the High School musical my senior year. And it was completely worth it. Every tear I’d cried and every part I didn’t get made the one I did get so special.
Then I became an adult and I went out into the world with a pocket full of rainbows and dreams. This ambitious girl who reached for the stars was quickly knocked on her butt and left there—a complete failure.
There were so many things I wanted that I never got. Maybe it was a job I would have been perfect for, or a boy I thought I couldn’t live without. At times I thought it would be the end of me. Every door seemed to close in my face, over and over again. I was left asking, “God, where’s that window you promised me?”
I spent my teenage years and half of my twenties striving for greatness and feeling so defeated when none of my dreams came true. So, what’s an ambitious girl to do? Quit? Stop trying? “God, what’s my purpose in life?” (Have you ever asked yourself that?)
At twenty-five I married and had my first child, then two years later I had my second. As a wife and mother I wanted to be the best, so, getting myself back on track with God was the first step. I found a church my entire family could enjoy and grow in. But I still had no idea what God wanted me to do. I’d checked wife and mother off my list of goals, but what now?
At the church I attend, I kept hearing the pastor say the same thing over and over again. “When the earth perishes there will be two things that remain—the Word of God and the souls of men.” “Above all else there are two things God cherishes—the Word of God and the souls of men.” “There are two things that matter in this life—the souls of men and the Word of God.”
Okay, OKAY! The Word of God and souls of men, I hear ya.
I turned to the Word of God and studied the bible, searching for God’s answers for my life. The question that plagued me was—how can my passions line up with God’s? I had a burning desire to write, and not just anything, but to write things that would honor God. It seemed like a perfect fit. I could write things that glorified God and touch the souls of men.
I wrote my first, full length novel. Now what? It was God honoring, but what do I do with it? So I did some research and got connected with critique partners and began to query (send a one page summary of my novel to entice an agent to read my manuscript).
What happened next was rejection after rejection. So I sent out more queries and got more rejections.
I’d pray and read The Bible wondering why I was failing. It was abundantly clear to me I was doing exactly what God wanted me to do. I was working within my spiritual gifts to glorify God, so why wasn’t I succeeding?
The answer: My definition of the word success was flawed. I thought every rejection letter meant I was a failure.
One Sunday morning the pastor preached on Noah—a story I’d heard a million times, but I’d never heard it preached like this before. I’d never known how long it took Noah to build that ark.
One-hundred-twenty-years Noah worked on that ark. I can imagine him looking up at the blue skies and wondering when God was gonna send the floods. But Noah didn’t give up and quit. He was obedient. Talk about ambition! Here I was complaining to God because after six months my book wasn’t published.
It’s funny how my timing doesn’t always line up with God’s timing, and yet, looking back, I can ALWAYS see God’s timing was so much better than mine.
I’m sure the world viewed Noah as a failure, building this silly boat when there were no signs of a flood. But Noah didn’t care what they thought, and he didn’t base his success on their opinions of him. He wasn’t building his boat for them—he was building it for God.
Through stories like this, The Bible tells me I can be ambitious. If I am glorifying God in my daily life, then in God’s eyes I am a success. Whether I’m a crossing guard, a school bus driver, a stay-at-home mom, or a senator, doesn’t matter to him. What matters is that in all things I bring Him glory. Dollar bills don’t hold any ranking with the big man upstairs.
In the book of MARK, Jesus brought his disciples out into the towns of Caesarea Philippi and spoke with them about what was to come, explaining that his time was drawing near. He gave them warnings to heed after He was gone. He then asked, MARK 8:36- “For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?”
COLOSSIANS tells us in 3:2- Set your affection on things above, not on things of this earth.
COLOSSIANS 3:17- And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name if the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by Him.
These verses have brought me so much peace. I still haven’t published any novels. I still haven’t made a single cent from anything I’ve ever written. Am I a failure? No. God tells me I can keep my ambition, just as long as my goals aren’t for worldly things. I can be who I want to be, as long as who I want to be is a reflection of Christ. What I am doesn’t matter to God. Who I am is what matters.
Written by: Amber Mauldin
Published by GIRL TALK with Len Jae magazine in January 2013