No virtue exists in our lives without Satan awakening a corresponding vice: nipping on the heels of obedience is pride, striding behind faith walks presumption and in the shadow of godly vision, selfish ambition lurks.
As we continue to explore Unity, let us look at the area of ambition.
The motive behind Lucifer’s great rebellion, which saw him cast from Heaven to the earth with a third of the angels, is selfish ambition. We hear this through the words of the Babylonian king:
“How you are fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! How you are cut down to the ground, You who weakened the nations! For you have said in your heart: ‘I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God; I will also sit on the mount of the congregation On the farthest sides of the north; I will ascend above the heights of the clouds, I will be like the Most High.’
Isaiah 14:12-14 NKJV
See the pride ooze out in the five, “I will…” statements. Not only does Lucifer desire to be like God but he seeks to “ascend into heaven” and establish his throne above the stars of God where the Almighty sits! Lucifer seeks to be worshiped. He seeks the place of God in heaven and he seeks the place of God in our hearts.
It is vital that we discern this: Lucifer does not want to destroy the world. He wants to rule it! He led a third of the angels against God’s authority and he does the same when he leads subordinate leaders to usurp God’s delegated authority in leaders here on earth.
Remember, Lucifer is subtle and manipulative… and good at it. A third of the angels from heaven were deceived. That says something about how good he is at it.
Now, it is important to distinguish the fact that it is right to aspire to the office of an overseer; but it is wrong to be ambitious for the office of your overseer. It is honourable to desire a place to lead; but it is hellish to engender discontent against the leader of your current organisation so you can take his place. Whenever we seek to take the place of another whom God has placed in authority, we are conforming ourselves to the image of Lucifer, not Christ.
The deception surrounding and under girding ambition is especially powerful when someone actually has a vision from God but seeks to fulfill it through their earthly nature. Vision mostly comes without specifics and timing. In our enthusiasm, we try to help God out and move it along through our own thoughts and ideas. But, every vision requires the Holy Spirit’s work of preparation: the call to die to self, seasons of learning patience and maintaining vision through testing – all of which are needed before the vision from God draws near to fulfillment.
A true word from God will test you before it fulfills you. We see this was the case for Joseph:
Until the time that his word came to pass, The word of the LORD tested him.
With great passion we desire to see our destiny unfold but without God’s discipline. With unrelenting hope we desire the crown before us, but we don’t see the cross that stands between the Father’s initial promise and our spiritual fulfillment.
Ambition will naturally rise within us… and that is okay as long as our zeal is guarded by humility and submission. We can know when our ambition has joined with pride when we see that our zeal is causing strife and confusion around us. For when we are causing strife we are moving away from our destiny; not toward it. Repentance (turning 180 degrees) is the key here.
Ambition may arise as a consequence of faith… but it is not faith itself. Ambition is the attempt of our earthly nature to fulfill that which was promised. Ambition fails to trust God for the timing and the opening of doors. It spawns impatience, striving and tries to open doors where none exist. Abraham had it when, in his impatience, it caused him and Hagar to produce Ishmael. Abraham moved ahead of God’s timing and opened another door. And look at the strife that has caused!
He (Ishmael) will be a wild donkey of a man; his hand will be against everyone and everyone’s hand against him, and he will live in hostility toward all his brothers.”
True faith rests in God’s integrity and faithfulness. True faith can entrust one’s calling and gifts to the wisdom and timing of God. True faith does this even when the promise is not yet seen. True faith does not strive; it trusts. And it the case of Abraham, he outgrew his ambition because he learned to trust that the Lord was faithful. In the same way:
Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.
If you are a subordinate leader and desire your own leadership role, do not find fault with your current leader as a means of seeking advancement. The answer to your success is unveiled with these words:
Trust in the LORD and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture. Take delight in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him and he will do this: He will make your righteous reward shine like the dawn, your vindication like the noonday sun. Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him; do not fret when people succeed in their ways, when they carry out their wicked schemes. Refrain from anger and turn from wrath; do not fret—it leads only to evil.
Therefore, let selfish ambition die. Let faith arise. May you trust fully in God, and the plans He has for you.