Friday, February 24, 2012

LHP Review: Godly Ambition



Harvey, Dave. Foreword by C. J. Mahaney. Rescuing Ambition. Wheaton: Crossway, 2010. 224 Pages. Paper. $14.99. (LHP)

I expected something else.

I expected to be disappointed. Sorry, but I really did!

Perhaps I thought I was going to get sports hero or Christian coach theology.

Theology of Glory?

I was wrong. Dave Harvey presents a Christian view of godly ambition that is grounded in vocation and selfless service to the glory of God rather than a self-serving ambition with a Christian veneer over works righteousness.

Many think of ambition as nothing more than the drive for personal honor or fame. As a result, ambition—the God-implanted drive to improve, produce, develop, and create—is neglected and well on its way to paralysis.

For some, dreams are numbed. For others, there are no dreams; life just happens. And for those who are dreaming, motives are often confused. One thing is certain: ambition needs help.

Dave Harvey is calling for a rescue. He wants to snatch ambition from the heap of failed motivations and put it to work for the glory of God. To understand our ambition, we must understand that we are on a quest for glory. And where we find glory determines the success of our quest.

Has your God-given ambition been starved and sedated for too long? Are you ambitious? It's time to reach further and dream bigger for the glory of God.

DAVE HARVEY is responsible for church planting, church care, and international expansion for Sovereign Grace Ministries, having served on the leadership team since 1995. He has a DMin from Westminster Theological Seminary, is the author of When Sinners Say I Do, and is a contributing author to Worldliness: Resisting the Seduction of a Fallen World. (publisher's website)

Christ crucified is the message of the Holy Bible. It doesn't sound very ambitious. It looks like a defeat. Yet, it was the greatest victory in all of history. "God was most glorified when the Lord of glory was crucified on a cross" (25). He came to serve, not to be served.

James 3:13-16 (38ff) refers to "selfish ambition," a word that "portrays those who, like prostitutes or corrupt politicians, demean themselves for gain. This is ambition gone bad. The author describes Ambition...

  • Conceived
  • Corrupted
  • Converted
  • Its Agenda
  • Its Confidence
  • Its Path
  • Its Contentment
  • Ambitious Failure
  • Being Ambitious for the Church
  • Ambitious Risk
  • and Ambition Paid Forward.

 The author leads the reader from law to Gospel, finding the expression of a Biblical faith in a godly ambition that is content, humble, and mission-minded. Readers are encouraged to love the Church that Jesus loves (161, reproduced below).

  • The very first believers "devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers...And all who believed were together" (Acts 2:42, 44).
  • Teaching and preaching were experienced publicly. Timothy, as a pastor, was commanded to devote himself "to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation, to teaching" (1 Tim. 4:13).
  • Believers were exhorted "to meet together...encouraging one another" (Heb. 10:25).
  • They were repeatedly called to "serve one another" (Gal 5:13; 1 Pet. 4.10).

Sound familiar? Fellow Lutherans, don't be so surprised. Be surprised in a good way be concluding statements like: "God loves us too much to allow us to settle for self."

Dave Harvey redefines ambition for the glory of God, putting it to work in you according to your vocations.

Ambition doesn't have to be a dirty word.

The Rev. Paul J Cain is Pastor of Immanuel Lutheran Church, Sheridan, Wyoming, Headmaster of Martin Luther Grammar School, a member of the Board of Directors of The Consortium for Classical and Lutheran Education, Wyoming District Worship Chairman, and Editor of QBR.

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