Unreasonable Ambition

Wisdom from Spurgeon

The other day, I was reading through some notes that I had taken before I taught a biographical teaching on Charles Spurgeon to the college ministry. As I was reading, I ran across a quote that I believe is particularly helpful for Christians in every age group. Spurgeon said, “Many of our young folks want to commence their service for Christ by doing great things, and therefore do nothing at all; let none of my readers become the victims of such an unreasonable ambition.”

Why This is True

The reason I think this is a helpful quote is because it really presents a timeless truth. Far too many Christians, especially within the younger generation, really do want to begin their service for Christ by doing something great. They are always talking about possibly going to seminary to learn more theology so that they can train up pastors overseas, pastor a church, plant a church, become a missionary, open up an orphanage, end sex trafficking, etc.

I have personally heard this kind of thinking often as I have interned in a student ministry, attended seminary, and served in college ministry throughout my 20s. I have heard numerous youth tell me that they were going to be missionaries or pastors. I have talked to numerous college students that talk about how, after they graduate, they are going to go overseas to an unreached people group and risk imprisonment and death in order to share the gospel with people who have never heard about Jesus. I have had numerous people tell me that they were going to finish up seminary and then go do missions in the Middle East, China, or South America. Some seminarians talk zealously about how they are going to plant churches in major cities for the sake of Christ. There just seems to be a thought process within the younger generation related to doing great and magnificent things for Christ.

And, do not get me wrong, some of this thinking is fine. It is admirable to want to do great and magnificent things for Christ! However, as Spurgeon said, it is an “unreasonable ambition” if this is how you think that you are going to begin your service to Christ.

People do not begin their service to Christ by doing these great and magnificent things. That is not how this whole Christian walk thing works. It would be like a person wanting to commence their discipline of running by running a marathon, or somebody wanting to commence their work career as the CEO of a major Fortune 500 company. This type of thinking lacks wisdom. We know that you cannot commence the discipline of running by starting out with a marathon, and that you cannot commence your work career by starting out as the CEO of a major Fortune 500 company. This is the same with serving Christ. It is not as though we can go throughout high school, college, or seminary doing nothing (or very little) for Christ and then, upon graduation, go do something great and magnificent for Christ.

And the practical evidence that this is an unreasonable ambition is because many of the individuals that I have heard make these types of comments have went on to do other things than the great and magnificent things that they were intending on doing. I have seen some of them quit attending church. I have seen some go on to a fine career where they make a lot of money. I have seen some settle into an average career. And the reason for this is because, though they had an ambition to do something great and magnificent for Christ, they never understood the importance of doing everything for Christ.

Sure, they had a hopeful ambition to go evangelize the lost in another country, but they were not consistently seeking to evangelize their neighbor. They were desirous to preach the word, but they would not consistently read the word. They were zealous to plant a church, but they were not willing to serve in children’s ministry. They wanted to pastor a mega church, but they didn’t want to teach the gospel to children. They wanted to engage an unreached people group risking imprisonment and death, but they wouldn’t pick up loose paper lying around in the sanctuary after a Sunday morning service. They hoped to one day do great and magnificent things, but they never started being faithful in small, mundane things. And since this is the case, they will ultimately end up doing nothing. They will do nothing for Christ now, and they will do nothing for Christ in the years to come. This is sad!

Application

We must not fall for this unreasonable ambition. Rather, let us aspire to do great and magnificent things for Christ, but let us aspire to do those great and magnificent things for Christ as we faithfully yield the whole of our lives (even in the small and mundane things) in faithful obedience to Jesus now. And, as we do this, the Lord will be preparing more and more service opportunities for us to steward for his glory! This is how the Christian life works. The reward for faithfulness in ministry is greater opportunities for faithfulness in ministry (Luke 19:15-27). May we seek to commence our service to Christ with this in mind.

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