Archive for the 'Ambition' Category


What Color is Your Parachute?


This is going to be a long WotD but it’s a good one, so I hope you’ll read it!  Turns out living from your “being” instead of your “doing” is key to your job search…

I recently picked up the perennial best-selling job-searching book What Color is Your Parachute? and started plowing through it as a complement to my on-going job search.  I had never heard of the book, and was turned onto it by a Straus adjunct who got her MPP and JD at Harvard. She informed me that Harvard recommends this book to all its students.  Upon starting the read, I cannot believe nobody has ever pointed me in its direction before!  (Side Note: If you haven’t read it, go get a copy.  I have no idea why Pepperdine isn’t following Harvard’s lead.)

The first appendix is titled “Finding Your Mission in Life” and I am going to reproduce a section of it below for your convenience.  It speaks for itself.

There are usually three stages also to learning what your Mission in life is, and the two earlier stages are not to be disparaged. It is all “Mission” – just different forms of Mission, appropriate to your development at the time. But each stage has to be mastered, in turn, before the next can be approached… [The stages are] defined generally as follows:

1. Your first Mission here on Earth is one that you share with the rest of the human race, but it is no less your individual Mission for the fact that it is shared: and it is, to seek to stand hour by hour in the conscious presence of God, the One from who your Mission is derived. The Missioner before the Mission, is the rule. In religious language, your Mission here is: To know God, and enjoy Him forever, and to see His hand in all His works.

2. Second, once you have begun doing that in an earnest way, your second Mission here on Earth is also one that you share with the rest of the human race, but it is no less your individual Mission for the fact that it is shared: and that is, to do what you can, moment by moment, day by day, step by step, to make this world a better place, following the leading and guidance of God’s Spirit within you and around you.

3. Third, once you have begun doing that in a serious way, your third Mission here on Earth is one that is uniquely yours, and that is:

a) to exercise the Talent that you particularly came to Earth to use – your greatest gift, which you most delight to use,

b) in the place(s) or setting(s) that God has caused to appeal to you the most,

c) and for those purposes that God most needs to have done in the world

The Two Rhythms of the Dance of Mission: Unlearning, Learning, Unlearning, Learning

The distinctive characteristic of these three stages is that in each we are forced to let go of some fundamental assumptions that our culture has taught us, about the nature of Mission. In other words, throughout this quest and at each stage we find ourselves engaged not merely in a process of Learning. We are also engaged in a process of Unlearning. Thus, we can restate the above three Learnings, in terms of what we also need to unlearn at each stage:

We need in the first stage to unlearn the idea that our Mission is primarily to keep busy doing something (here on Earth), and learn instead that our Mission is first of all to keep busy being something (here on Earth) (emphasis mine). In Christian language (and others as well), we might say that we were sent here to learn how to be sons of God, and daughters of God, before anything else. “Our Father, who art in heaven…”

In the second stage, “Being” issues into “Doing.” At this stage, we need to unlearn the idea that everything about our Mission must be unique to us, and learn instead that some parts of our Mission here on Earth are shared by all human beings: e.g., we were all sent here to bring more gratitude, more kindness, more forgiveness, and more love, into the world. We share this Mission because the task is too large to be accomplished by just one individual.

We need in the third stage to unlearn the idea that the part of our Mission that is truly unique, and most truly ours, is something Our Creator just orders us to do, without any agreement from our spirit, mind, and heart. (On the other hand, neither is it something that each of us chooses and then merely asks God to bless.) We need to learn that God so honors our free will, that He has ordained that our unique Mission be something that we have some part in choosing.

In this third stage we need also to unlearn the idea that our unique Mission must consist of some achievement for all the world to see – and learn instead that as the stone does not always know what ripples it has caused in the pond whose surface it impacts, so neither we nor those who watch our life will always know what we have achieved by our life and by our Mission. It may be that by the grace of God we helped bring about a profound change for the better in the lives of other souls around us, but it also may be that this takes place beyond our sight, or after we have gone on. And we may never know what we have accomplished, until we see Him face to face after this life is past.

Most finally, we need to unlearn the idea that what we have accomplished is our doing, and ours alone. It is God’s Spirit breathing in us and through us that helps us do whatever we do, and so the singular first-person pronoun is never appropriate, but only the plural. Not “I accomplished this” but “We accomplished this, God and I, working together…”

So there you have it! First, we need to unlearn the idea that we are here to do something, and relearn the truth that we are here to be something – Sons of God! Second, we need to allow that ‘being’ to issue into ‘doing.’

Men of eNgage, I hope you’re as encouraged by reading this as I am! This is exactly what we have been focusing on for the beginning of this year! This is exactly what we are learning to help each other do.

And to have it reiterated by a secular job-searching book, written by a Harvard/MIT grad, and further recommended thereby… Who would have guessed!?!

– Jer


Where’s the Gold?

master blacksmith shaping metalWhere’s your gold?  Recently, we talked about being “metal men,” or men who are ready to be used for God’s nobler purposes according to 2 Timothy 2:20-21:

20In a large house there are articles not only of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay; some are for noble purposes and some for ignoble. 21If a man cleanses himself from the latter, he will be an instrument for noble purposes, made holy, useful to the Master and prepared to do any good work.

We then read the story of Joseph and challenged each other to “find the gold” that has been put in each of us by God: the gifts, the talents, and the character that we display for the world when we are at our best.

I challenge you to do the same.  Take some time to think about the man you are-not the titles you have or the roles you fill (such as salesman, director, student, husband, father, etc…), but that which was woven into who you were created to be by God.  When you take the time to find the gifts, talents, and character of who you are and when you know who you long to be at your core, you can live out of that strength and use the gifts God has placed in you to make a difference in the world around you for the Kingdom of God.

Here’s an example of what I put down:

Jesus guiding his disciples through the storm“I am a restorer: I work to redeem that which is fallen, broken, or lost; working to transform it into that which is forgiven, healed, and rooted.  This applies to people and relationships, but also to areas of this world.

I seek to lead with a quiet strength: leading others with a consistent and sure example-knowing that I am a son of the Most High God, established in His Truth, and assured of His love.”

I am a protector: I fight to advance my Father’s kingdom and establish beachheads of peace, hope, and rest in a battleground of turmoil and despair.

I am a guide: I point those who would seek it to God’s perspective and Truth.

As a group, eNgage is now trying to live out of our statements of who God created us to be.  This is impossible if we rely on our own strength, but when we put our faith in God and look to Him to be our strength, we know that God will use us to transform this world.

Gentlemen, I challenge you to know who you are and who you were created to be and then to go out and make this world a better place.  Your words and actions can bring a blessing or a curse to the people around you.  Find the gold God knit within you, allow Him to refine you and let the former be true as you live out who you were created to be.

Want some accountability?  Post your statement below for your brothers to see.


Sola scriptura, Sola fide, Sola gratia, Solo Christo, Soli Deo gloria


Ambition by Dave Harvy

A few years ago, I heard an interview with a Christian college professor. Having logged three decades in the classroom, he was asked to compare college students today with those of the past. Decades ago, he indicated, incoming freshmen arrived sporting some serious aspiration. If asked, they could (and would!) become the leaders, innovators, and agents of change for industry, government, and commerce. Their ideas would influence society and determine the course of civilization. Yep, humility was weak but ambition ran strong and deep.

But over time the professor detected a shift. Where postmodernism flourished, ambition went AWOL. Students grew ambivalent. Gone were the dreams for making an impact. In their place was the ethos of “Whatever!”—student-speak for, “believe in nothing, care for nothing, interfere with nothing, and live for nothing.”

The professor knew something vital had been lost.

The Future Lost

Ambition cannot survive without dreams for the future. “To be ambitious,”notes author Joseph Epstein, “is to be future-minded.” But what happens when the future-minded energy of ambition meets the future-ambivalent morass of postmodernity? Ambition stalls. Life becomes the experience of perpetual randomness. We jettison ultimate truth unaware of its connection to hope and the capacity to dream.

But that’s not all. With the cultural dive into postmodernism, future-dependent values like courage, vision, and enterprise also take a hit. Progress and goals give way to indifference and immediate gratification.

We face a generation of young men and women missing a transcendent vision. The engine of ambition lies silent—a quaint artifact from a bygone era.

In The Social Worlds of Higher Education, Mark Edmundson observes this lack of transcendent vision: “It’s a lack of capacity for enthusiasm that defines what I’ve come to think of as the reigning generational style. Whether the students are sorority fraternity types, grunge aficionados, piercer/tattooers, black or white, rich or middle class, … they are, nearly across the board very, very, self-contained. On good days, they display a light, appealing glow; on bad days, shuffling disgruntlement. But there’s little fire, little passion to be found. . . . This is a culture intensely committed to a laid-back norm.”

Colleges are not the problem; they simply reflect the problem. Where postmodernism flourishes, passion never reaches above the level of critical anger at things that don’t seem right. Causes have momentum only to the extent that they have viral cachet. And everything matters right now, only so far as it is right now. The future is not intentionally snuffed out. Postmodernism just hangs a “Do Not Disturb” sign over doors of opportunity. Few risk the hassle of knocking. Fewer still exert the energy to walk expectantly through the door.

The Future Found

God wants to rescue ambition. But not to build future monuments to our own glory. I’m talking about an instinct that looks for new ways to glorify God through our dreams. Paul said, “But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus (Phil. 3:13–14).

Think about it: Paul’s got one thing in view. He wants to forget all that once defined him and press forward into future exploits. For Paul the future was so essential he pressed towards it with dreams and desires, with fiery ambition!

I want the kind of ambition he describes. What about you?

As Christians do we see the opportunity in postmodern culture for the life-transforming message of Jesus Christ? Is there anything more toxic to apathy than the heaven or hell implications of the gospel? The more I study Scripture and the culture around me, the more I see a world of people who have not only run out of answers, they have run out of questions.

We need ambition—godly ambition that lives grateful for past success while stretching and straining forward to what lies ahead. An ambition that will not rest until more churches are planted, more marriages helped, more art created, more people reached, more businesses started, more disciples made. An ambition aware of postmodernity but living for eternity.

You can learn more about godly ambition in Dave Harvey’s new book Rescuing Ambition.

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A work in Progress


Wednesday Jan 26th 2011
8:00 AM - George Page Commons

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