I was reading my ‘Celtic Daily Light’ today and found my thoughts being directed to the nature of ambition. Having often considered ambition in quite a negative light I was challenged by the words of Pelagius, a British monk from the 4th century, to reconsider my views.
Here is his description of Ambition.
Of all the emotions and desires within the human breast, the one that is most often misunderstood and misused is ambition. This emotion distinguishes us from all the other creatures which inhabit the world. An animal, bird, fish or insect has no ambition; it simply looks for
food in order to sustain itself for another day. But the human being can look ahead, anticipating the consequences of present actions far into the future. Ambition in itself is neither good nor bad; what matters is how it is directed. Ambition may be directed towards the accumulation of power and wealth, towards material superiority over others. Such ambition is evil, because power and wealth can only be gained at the expense of others. Or ambition may be directed towards holiness and moral perfection, towards becoming like Christ himself. The emotion which lusts after power and wealth is the same emotion which yearns for holiness and perfection; the difference lies in the way in which the
emotion is directed.
So this week our prayer is about ambition, which like so many things in life depends for its value on how we direct it.Heavenly Father, Give me the ambition to use everything I have for the highest purposes,
to abuse no person, to misuse no powers, to harness my skills to your service and to bring great things to flower. Amen.
My thanks to Ray Simpson for compiling this useful aid to prayer.