Ambition and Intentional Living

Recently, Kathleen and I visited the Huntington Library, Gardens, and Art Collection in Pasadena.  Founded by Henry and Arabella Huntington, their mansion was transformed in a museum after their death in 1927.  Among other outstanding collections, it has an incredible hall of British portraits.  As I walked through the galleries of the political, artistic, social, and military leaders featured in the portraits, I saw serious “intention” in their faces.  They lived their lives strategically and with purpose.  They didn’t leave much to chance when it came to ambition and career goals.  As I studied the paintings of military generals, writers and artists, business and government leaders, I wondered about the place of ambition in my own life.  What would have happened had I lived my life more intentionally?

I wonder if today, we’re the victims of the desire to just live life as it comes – to assume that whatever works out is the best path.  It sounds romantic, but real influence in the world doesn’t come at random.  It rarely happens by accident.  My father was a Southern preacher and had little knowledge of applying strategy to the art of living.  As a result, I was well into my adult life before I even considered career planning or anything close to it.  And by then it was pretty late.

But what if from an early age, I had been groomed to pursue a specific career?  And even if I had picked it myself later, what if I had been more serious?  What if I had pursued my goals with more conviction?  In most religious circles, “ambition” is an ugly word.  But the truth is, what’s wrong with it?  As long as it’s braced with humility, what’s wrong with planning, thinking ahead, and the desire to achieve something significant with our lives?

To influence today’s culture, we need to have the experience, credentials, and relationships that only come by strategic living.  Jesus Christ didn’t just take life as it came.  From the very specific reason for coming to the earth, to the people he talked with, the places he traveled, to the death he chose, he lived his life for a purpose.

Are you living with purpose, intention, and ambition?  Or living at random?  Let me know.