Ambition is not a bad thing, but depending on your exposure, the word can carry a negative connotation. The ambitious types are usually perceived as the money grabbers, the media hogs, the positions seekers. I say ambition is not necessarily all bad. It all depends on how it is defined and carried out. A simple definition of ambition is, “desiring success.” There is nothing inherently wrong with that, now is there?
It is when the ambition gets misguided that we are headed for trouble.
The phrase “selfish ambition” shows up five times in the NIV Bible (Galatians 5:20, Philippians 1:17, Philippians 2:3, James 3:14, James 3:16). Each time, we are warned against it. It seems to me that it is the selfish aspect of the concept that creates the problems. Desiring success that elevates us above others, takes advantage of others or pushes other people down is wrong, anyway you slice it.
So how can ambition be anything other than selfish?
Another phrase comes to mind: Tempered ambition. I will define this as, “chasing the rights things, the right way.” Desiring God’s definition of success is a good thing. Doing the right things the right way is a good thing. Succeeding without compromising our integrity is vital.
Go ahead and be ambitious. In fact, please desire success. Just be sure it is the non-selfish variety.