Godly Ambition’s Foundation

We’re taking a look at the idea of “ambition” because it’s such a huge part of what it means to be in healthcare.  You can’t finish the intense training it requires, or thrive in it, without a healthy dose of it.  But we need to take a closer look so that we honor God with the drive He’s given us.

In this entry, I had planned on showing that God commands the right kind of ambition, but I think that’s obvious.  The two great commandments (love God first, love your neighbor as yourself) prove that in pretty short order.   So instead, I want to talk about its foundation, the unseen but essential basis for getting ambition right.

Once more, Dave Harvey points the way, this time to Romans 5, where we read that “one trespass led to condemnation for all men… by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners” (18, 19).  Referring to Adam’s sin, the Apostle Paul says that it made all of us guilty, and it made us sinners who add to his rebellion.  So, we need a Savior to rescue us both from Adam’s sin, and our own.

We all know that Jesus took away our guilt at the cross, but He also did something else that we tend to gloss over.  If He just took away our guilt, we’d have a big zero in our bank account, so to speak, before a perfect God who also commands us to actively live a perfect life.  The problem is, because we’re sinful at our core, we would just go on sinning and find ourselves right back where we started – condemned before Him.

The great news is that Jesus lived a flawless life every moment of His existence here, and we also get that as a result of His death on the cross.  As Paul puts it later in Romans 5, “by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous” (20).  So, it’s a double exchange: we get His perfect track record, He gets our failures.  And so, when God looks at us, He sees Jesus’ record, not ours.

You may be thinking, “OK, yeah, I kind of forget that part about his life getting credited to me sometimes.  That’s great, but what does that have to do with my passions and ambitions?  How does that help me in my calling to healthcare?”

Glad you asked!  Again, healthcare is a hierarchical culture where, essentially, more training = more value = more approval.  I can remember a meeting where a physician gave a talk on his missions experience, and I introduced him to a few students afterwards.  As one of the students tried to speak to the physician, he was visibly shaking and could barely get out a few words.  I don’t want to be too hard on this student – we’ve all had experiences like this – but he temporarily forgot what I know he believes – that we all have the same standing before God.  The standing that comes from Jesus’ perfect life, credited to us.

Now, let me bring this in for a landing and tie this truth into our hopes, dreams and ambitions.  If you really get the idea that Jesus’ performance, not yours, is what matters, you’ll be transformed.  You won’t be consumed with comparing your performance with others’ who are further along in training than you.  You won’t fall to pieces when you get pimped by your attending.  You’ll be fine when, as a nurse, you have to interact with an intimidating physician.  Because Jesus has already accomplished everything, and I’m approved by the Living God in Him, I don’t need to strive for approval anymore.

All the time and energy we used to direct toward getting people to like and applaud us can now be redirected toward living for God and serving others.  I love the way Dave Harvey puts it: “I no longer live for approval; I live from approval.”

So, how would the way you think about yourself and others change if you fully believed that God sees Jesus’ record when He looks at you?  Why not take a moment right now and ask Him for insight and the power to live out what He shows you?

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About Bryan Stoudt

On my personal website (bryanstoudt.com), I help Christians follow Jesus in a noisy, broken world. I also have the privilege of helping Philadelphia's healthcare students and professionals do this as Area Director for the Christian Medical & Dental Associations (CMDA). More information at cmdaphiladelphia.org. On a personal note, I'm fortunate to be married to my wonderful wife, Sharon. Together, we have four fantastic children. In my spare time, I enjoy roasting coffee, running, reading and learning foreign languages.
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