Godly Ambition Does Not Mean Pleasing Women

In my previous post, Justin brought up a good point:

“First, the Christian men that are “good guys” could use a little–what’s the word I’m looking for – ambition.”

Hmm, which one of the traditional Christian virtues is that? Which Bible teaching instructs men to be ambitious about worldly pursuits?

John McArthur offers clarification on this point.

In speaking about Paul, he says:

“He had ambition, first of all, that went high, verse 9. “We have as our ambition whether at home or absent to be pleasing to Him.” Just look at the phrase “to be pleasing to Him.” That separates spiritual ambition from sinful ambition. Paul never sought great things for himself, he always sought great things for God. The Apostle is like a violinist who cares not for the audience applause but for the smile of the master who taught him. He lived to please the Lord. Everything he did he did to the glory of the Lord.”

Basically the only ambition Christians (women included) should have is in pleasing the Lord, in pleasing HIM. This does NOT mean primarily pleasing women, as much as many would like. Christian ambition is not about pleasing women, feminists, men, the world, or even ourselves. This is what many will find so upsetting. I’m sure some will say that in pursuing worldly ambitions, you end up pleasing women and this in extension will please the Lord, but that is certainly a stretch. The aim should be God first and all others second. Paul did not seek great things for himself or others as the “Manning up” message forces Christian men to do. He rather sought great things for God. His focus was on Him rather than on the many hoops women and society can make a man jump through. If in a man’s aim to please God he happens to end up with a successful career that benefits himself and family, that then is the best of both worlds. It is a backwards approach though to aim at pleasing the world first and then hope that God will be satisfied with whatever hoops you jump through.

“In 1 Corinthians chapter 4 he really makes some very, very powerful statements about this. Verse 3, he says, “To me it’s a very small thing that I should be examined by you or by any human court.” It is a minor detail in my life to be examined by people. I really have little regard for what you think or what any human tribunal things. Any evaluation by people has very limited value to me.”

Now he’s not saying that in an unhealthy attitude. “I don’t care what you think” attitude which betrays some kind of open display of indifference. But he is simply saying, “At the end of the day I don’t do what I do for your approval. My accountability really is not to you, it’s way beyond that. There is a higher court than any human court.” He even goes on to say, “I don’t even examine myself, I’m conscious of nothing against myself, yet I’m not by this acquitted.”

“At the end of the day I don’t do what I do for your approval. My accountability really is not to you, it’s way beyond that. There is a higher court than any human court.”

I suspect Christian men do not hear that message enough and why would they as it competes and takes away attention from women and the world. It also is the complete opposite of the “manning up” message. “Manning up” is about doing things for human/societal approval. The motivations behind “Manning up” is not to “man up” for God, to please Him, its so women can get married and have their ‘happily ever after’.

We are seeing a growing movement of men who are taking on the above attitude. Whether these men are Christian or not, it still sends a powerful message and cannot be ignored under the “manning up” banner. Men have ambitions, its just not towards women (and this is where the outrage stems). If the man is Christian, his ambition (if biblically understood) is in pleasing the Lord and if a man is not a Christian his ambitions may just be in pleasing himself in the interests of self-preservation (which cannot be judged as a bad thing if the man does not profess to being Christian).

“What motivates you? No earthly reward, no earthly honor, no earthly threat, no earthly possibility, no earthly circumstance, no earthly opportunity motivated Paul. He could take it all.”

By Kevin DeYoung’s standard of ambition, looks like Paul would have been categorized as one unambitious, unmotivated dude. What motivates Christian men should not be pleasing women. The loss of earthly honor that may come from not “manning up” should be of no concern. Saying this will certainly get me in trouble with some traditionalists, but as mentioned above, I am not saying this for their approval.

If “godly ambition” is called for, let it be just that–ambition towards pleasing God. Let it not be used in vain to push man’s ambition towards pleasing the world.

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