Book Review: Rescuing Ambition
Rescuing Ambition by Dave Harvey is a tragic case of mistaken identity for me.
I was given the book when I graduated from seminary. I was extremely excited to read it. I thought it was going to address one of the greatest flaws in my life: an overwhelming ambition and will to power. I have long struggled to subject my desire for more power/influence/control to Christ will. On top of this I have wondered how this strong drive in me could be reigned into service for Christ. In the pxt few years I have struggled with this ambition, even to the point of not wearing a certain pair of glasses because they evoked the ghost of unbridled ambition in my heart.
So I truly hoped Harvey’s book would answer my questions and help me apply the gospel to this area of my life. Unfortunately, that’s not what the book is about. Rescuing Ambition addresses those who lack motivation more than those who have too much. It responds to the way that so many in the church have traded ambition for inactivity in the name of humility. The church seems to have made this mistake across the board. We assume those who are content with mediocrity and are spiritual must be humble. Harvey does a good job with this distinction. He then take sot spurring us on to being ambitious after Christ.
There is one chapter that does address the problem of uninhibited ambition. He devotes an entire chapter to the idea of contentment. He focusses on Paul, certainly a gifted and ambitious man, in a Roman jail saying that he has learned to be content in all situations. He says that if we allow our ambition to define us, we will never be satisfied. This chapter hit me right between the eyes. My discontent often grows from the way I allow myself to be hijacked by my ambition. When I serve my ambition instead of allowing my ambition to serve Christ, I become inhumane and choose power and control over love.
The book overall was good. The tough part is that it speaks to those who need more motivation and it may be difficult to motivate that kind of person to read the book… I do wish Pastor Harvey would perhaps consider a follow-up/companion volume. Something like Redeeming Ambition that dealt with the overly ambitious.