Sermon quotes on ambition

Augustine of Hippo

Do you wish to rise? Begin by descending. Do you plan a tower that will pierce the clouds? Lay first the foundation of humility.

John Blanchard

Ambition is a gilded misery, a secret poison, a hidden plague, the engineer of deceit, the mother of hypocrisy, the parent of envy, the original of vices, the moth of holiness, the blinder of hearts, turning medicines into maladies and remedies into diseases. High seats are never but uneasy, and crowns are always stuffed with thorns.

Truth for Life, Evangelical Press, 1986, p. 179.

Alain de Botton

Anxiety is the handmaiden of contemporary ambition.

Status Anxiety, Pantheon.

Robert Browning

“Ah, but a man’s reach should exceed his grasp,

Or what’s a heaven for?”

Men and Women and Other Poems

Sinclair Ferguson

Christian contentment… is the direct fruit of having no higher ambition than to belong to the Lord and to be totally at His disposal and the place He appoints, at the time He chooses, with a provision He is pleased to make.

Benjamin Franklin

Ambition has its disappointments to sour us, but never the good fortune to satisfy us.

Memoirs of Benjamin Franklin”, 1839, p.15.

Dave Harvey

God loves good ambition. It brings him glory as he works through our desires to fulfill his purpose. God doesn’t need us, but amazingly he uses us. But to position us for fruitfulness, he’s continually working in our lives, turning our desires toward his ends and developing our ambitions and accordance with his will.

Rescuing Ambition, p. 74-75.

Dave Harvey

The career path for the Christian looks different than for others. We should not be hungry for her own name or unrestrained in our self-promotion. We don’t need to broker our future. The gospel reminds us that our ambition should follow Christ’s action. If God submitted his great majesty to the call of servanthood, we can submit our musical talents, are teaching desires, our motivational skills to the call of servanthood as well.

Rescuing Ambition, p. 105.

Dave Harvey

Most people think of ambition as climbing, upward mobility, always looking for step up (and willing to step on others to get it. But biblical ambition points in the other direction—the direction Christ traveled. Our Master emptied himself, lighting the path for our ambitions Were called to follow him. As we empty ourselves, we find the fullness of Christ. We look out for others’ rights I had of our own. We find joy and advancing seeing others succeed. We ask others to help us think realistically about ourselves.

Rescuing Ambition, p. 118.

Dave Harvey

Godly ambition is gospel ambition. We dream because God rescued our corrupted, selfish ambitions and gave us the capacity to desire, dream, and work for his glory

Rescuing Ambition, p.210.

E. Stanley Jones

We grow small trying to be great.

John Koessler

I find it hard to be at rest and ambitious at the same time.

Taken from The Radical Pursuit of Rest by John Koessler. ©2015 by John Koessler.  Used by permission of InterVarsity Press, P.O. Box 1400, Downers Grove  IL  60515-1426.

Edward Bulwer-Lytton

Ambition has no rest.

Ed. Jehiel Keeler Hoyt, Hoyt’s New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations, Richelieu, 1839, p. 20-21.

Dwight L. Moody

Our greatest fear should not be of failure, but of succeeding at something that doesn’t really matter.

Cornelius Plantinga, Jr.

When we’ve had a good year in our own kingdom, we aren’t necessarily looking for God’s Kingdom.

Chinese Proverb

He who opens his heart for ambition closes it for the rest.

William Shakespeare

“Ambition should be made of sterner stuff.”

Julius Caesar

William Shakespeare

“I have no spur

To prick the sides of my intent, but only

Vaulting ambition, which o’erleaps itself

And falls on th’other.”

Macbeth act 1, sc. 7, l. 25 (1606)

John Stott

When Jesus is truly our Lord, He directs our lives and we gladly obey Him. Indeed, we bring every part of our lives under His lordship – our home and family, our sexuality and marriage, our job or unemployment, our money and possessions, our ambitions and recreations.

John Stott

Ambitions for self may be quite modest…Ambitions for God, however, if they are to be worthy, can never be modest. There is something inherently inappropriate about cherishing small ambitions for God. How can we ever be content that he should acquire just a little more honour in the world? No. Once we are clear that God is King, then we long to see him crowned with glory and honour, and accorded his true place, which is the supreme place. We become ambitious for the spread of his kingdom and righteousness everywhere.

Mark Twain

Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great make you feel that you, too, can become great.

Caroline Thomas Harnsberger, Mark Twain at Your Fingertips: A Book of Quotations, Courier Corporation, 2009, p.354.

Oscar Wilde

We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.

Lady Windermere’s Fan, 1892.

Salvador Dalí

Intelligence without ambition is a bird without wings.

John Starke

The witness of Christian history is that the ambitious need quiet hearts. We need ancient paths for our modern, busy lives that teach us to be settled with God in an unsettling world.

Taken from The Possibility of Prayer: Finding Stillness with God in a Restless World by John Starke Copyright (c) 2020 by John Starke. Published by InterVarsity Press, Downers Grove, IL.

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