Rescuing Ambition

Dave Harvey’s excellent book, Rescuing Ambition, releases next month. Through the end of Friday, you can pre-order it for 35% off at Crossway’s microsite.

Harvey argues that ambition needs to be rescued from a false understanding. We tend to think of it “as nothing more than the drive for personal honor or fame.” And ambition that terminates on ourselves, to be sure, is dishonorable. But ambition directed towards a purpose larger than ourselves — ambition for the glory of God and the good of the world — is not only good and right, but essential.

Ambition in this sense is a God-implanted drive to improve, produce, develop, create, and make things better. When ambition dies or is neglected, big dreams die. And when big dreams die, the world misses out, and we fail to realize the full potential that God has given us.

I think that Harvey is right on in this. We have let ambition lie neglected, and as a result have become too accustomed to dreaming small dreams. By rescuing ambition, Harvey encourages us to dream big dreams that are worthy of a big God, instead of being content with life as usual and the status quo.

(This is very related to the topic of productivity, by the way, because ambition drives productivity. Further, I argue in the about page that productivity is not simply about our own personal effectiveness, but is ultimately about helping to make our places of work, our communities, and society more effective. The kind of ambition that Harvey is talking about fuels the drive to be productive in this holistic way. Without ambition, you are more likely to be concerned merely with your own productivity, which aborts the whole concept and turns it inward. Productivity is really about making things better in all areas of life — especially our work, communities, churches, and society.)

So I’m very excited about Harvey’s book. Which makes it fitting that this is the first book for which I have written a blurb. Here’s the blurb I wrote for the book, which sums up my above sentiments:

Dave Harvey teaches us that God wants ambition back in our understanding of godliness and spiritual health. As Christians, we are to be zealous for good works (Titus 2:13) — that is, ambitious for them. We are to be people who dream and do big things for the glory of God and the good of others. This is a critical book for the church today because it helps us recover the spirit of William Carey, who ambitiously said ‘Expect great things from God. Attempt great things for God.

For more on ambition, let me also recommend John Piper’s sermon Holy Ambition: To Preach Where Christ has not Been Named.