Content [kon-tent] adjective – in a perpetual state of peaceful happiness.
Ambition [am-bish-uhn] noun – a strong desire to do or to achieve something significant, typically requiring determination and hard work.
Reflect on the two words above and attempt to reconcile being grateful for what you have and wanting more in life. There is a dichotomy that exists between the two desires that is challenging to bridge. Many of us living “the American dream” struggle with this reconciliation. The answer lies in our motivation.
Being grateful does not mean being comfortable. Meaningful work here on earth is never really finished, therefore we must press on, continually striving to have a greater relational impact on others. That is, after all, the only significant thing we leave behind when we die.
I am contented and can honestly say I live in a state of peaceful happiness. For that, I am grateful. However, I can also say that I am determined to continually improve my relational competency so that I can impact more lives for the better. To reach more minds and hearts to propel them into a meaningful existence. To work in service to others so that they can ascend to their highest level as a human. That’s my motivation. That’s what drives me.
Ambition that serves others is properly placed ambition. It does not serve one’s ego or status, but seeks to elevate others’ acceptance of themselves, helping them feel worthy to stretch themselves to live a life of significance.
Life is not a zero-sum game when Agape love is at the motivational center. Agape love is a renewable resource. The more it is given, the more there is to give. It is the highest form of love, unconditionally transcending and persisting regardless of circumstance.
It does not mean you live life wearing rose-colored glasses. It means you trust God is always working, so you can expect things to work out just as he intends them to. It enables both gratitude and ambition, i.e. the contented desire to want more of his love so that you can give more away to others.
I’ve spent most of my life trying to figure out what I liked, what I felt like doing, what I’m passionate about. I’ve taken all the personality tests, Myers-Briggs, DISC, etc …, and many other gift and strength tests to understand myself better. Yet, while God has designed and equipped me for a unique purpose, I believe He is asking the same question of you and me that He did of Peter in John 21:15:
When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.“
Notice what Jesus did not ask Peter. He didn’t ask him, “What would you like to do with yourself when I’m gone?” He didn’t ask, “What are you passionate about?” Or didn’t say, “Just follow your heart.”
Jesus simply asked if he loved him. If you can humbly answer that question in the affirmative, then you can learn contended ambition for it is born out of devotion to God above what we want or feel equipped to do.