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Honorable Ambition

June 7, 2022

When you hear that someone is ambitious, what comes to your mind?

Some of you view ambition in a negative light. You might think it’s self-serving—like the person who leaves their family, friends, and even team members in the dust to accomplish something for their own satisfaction or fame. 

But ambition in itself isn’t negative. Ambition, when applied to the right goal, is a very good thing. Here is a simple and helpful definition: ambition is a strong desire to do or achieve something.

Recently, I’ve grown to understand the concept of ambition more deeply by studying 1 Thessalonians 4:11. In this letter, Paul encourages his readers to live their lives in a very specific way: “make it your ambition to lead a quiet life: You should mind your own business and work with your hands.”

This passage gives us three ways to pursue ambition in an honorable way: 1) lead a quiet life, 2) mind your own business, and 3) work with your hands. Over the next three weeks, I am going to unpack each of these principles and what they mean for our lives today. 

This week, we’re going to dive into what it means to lead a quiet life and why it matters.

At first glance, an ambition to lead a quiet life feels like a paradox. It seems like you are saying, “Have BIG GOALS and BIG DREAMS to . . . pull back?” However, remember our definition of ambition? It’s a strong desire to do something, and I would take it a step further to say

an honorable ambition is a strong desire to do something good.


Leading a quiet life is a very good thing. And quiet doesn’t mean you might not stand out. In reality, this pursuit is really about a quietness of the mind and heart. 

Having the space for quiet stands in stark contrast with our modern culture. Our hearts and minds are constantly stimulated by social media, entertainment, and news sources. In 1985, Neil Postman published a book called Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business. In it, Postman argued that our modern world looks much more like Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World than George Orwell’s 1984. In Orwell’s book, people are oppressed by government control, but in Huxley’s book, people are controlled by their own obsession with amusement. Postman wrote his book before the internet age and the introduction of social media; yet, his words are even more true today!

Here is my challenge for you (and for me) today: Turn down the noise. In order to lead a quiet life, we must have real moments of quiet and stillness in our daily lives.

Are you finding space to focus on what’s most important?

Are you taking the time to remind yourself of what is true, instead of taking in what everyone else is saying?

Do you have times when you are turning off your phone? (Wow, I struggle with this one!)

The need to be constantly connected hinders our ability to authentically connect with others.

It is an honorable ambition to lead a quiet life. Not only does it serve us in our own personal growth, development, and productivity, but it also makes us better family members, friends, and coworkers.


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