‘Do you think you are going to be a king and rule over us?’ Joseph’s brothers asked him. So they hated him even more because of his dreams … plotted against him and decided to kill him. Genesis 37:8,18
Joseph’s brothers thought they would not reach their own potential if their brother fulfilled his, as revealed in his dreams. This fear was the opposite of the truth. In reality, Joseph’s brothers reached their own historic leadership roles through, not in spite of, Joseph.
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.
The approach of the Celtic missionaries was essentially gentle and sensitive. They sought to live alongside the people with whom they wanted to share the good news of Christ, to understand and respect their beliefs and not to dominate or culturally condition them.
Give me the ambition
To use everything I have for the highest purposes
To abuse no person
To misuse no powers
To harness skills to service
And to bring great things to flower