Is it OK to be Ambitious?

an image of a woman looking up whilst waiting for a train
Claire Elwin
Claire is a leadership consultant, having spent many years working in the City. She also works with Ken Costa on God at Work.

If I am honest, being ambitious is something I have wrestled with in my career. So often I was asked by my managers, ‘what’s your career aspiration, which job title shall I write on your form?’, and I struggled.

Was it OK and godly to want to do bigger and more senior jobs?

Was it showing humility if I was striving for promotion?

Well, I made it to being a Head of HR and was on the HR Leadership Team for a large financial services firm, so I think the answer is, 'Yes. It is OK.'

How did I reach this conclusion?

I am fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139) and God has given me unique talents that he wants me to put to use for his kingdom (Matthew 25).

I am passionate about seeing people grow and develop as individuals, for people to be engaged and enjoy what they do because organisations have a culture which benefit their employees, customers and shareholders.

God has given me specific skills that are different to those of other people. If I do not use them then I am not doing what He has asked of me.

God has given me specific skills that are different to those of other people (Romans 12). If I do not use them then I am not doing what he has asked of me.

Is it OK to be ambitious? Yes. If it is God-given and I choose to use what he has given me for his glory.

So what happened?

In the past year, I was challenged to use my skills in a completely different environment. I now run God at Work, help run a new church and do some independent consulting. Am I still ambitious even though I work for the church? Yes!

Nothing has changed, I still want to see people grow and develop, I long for people to be fulfilled in their workplaces and for organisations to be great places to work.

God doesn’t call many of us to work in the church. Is my long-term future here? Probably not, but for now this is where God wants to use me and I continue to develop my skills and apply them in a small way, which I hope one day will make a difference to others.