Together We Rise, Responding to the Ups and Downs of Ambition

Certainly, I’m not the only one who can go from confident to skeptical in the blink of an eye. How do we respond to the ups and downs of ambition? With encouragement, honesty, and support. Together we rise.

Riding the roller coaster of ambition

On a random Sunday afternoon, my daughter convinced our family to get dressed and stand in the middle of our snowy hayfield for pictures. Feeling extra confident, I slid into my Spanx moto leggings, put in my big hoops, and headed out.

The pictures are amazing. In the middle of a snowy field, we managed to get a few especially fierce-looking shots of me with my daughters and another with my husband—social media-worthy for sure.

Fast forward a few weeks and the scene in our office was completely different. Between my project list and calendar, my composure came completely undone. Doubt and frustration came pouring out. Building something from scratch is hard, too hard. What if I fail? Shouldn’t I be focusing on projects that already pay? What if I’m wrong and this isn’t what I’m supposed to do?

This up one minute, down the next rhythm is how life feels. God has called you to something very personal, which relies on faith and requires vulnerability. We aren’t perfect. None of us know how our story plays out. Our job is to ride the roller coaster to the best of our ability and rely on God.

together we rise
Photo by Calvin fitra Anggara on Unsplash

Calling out the lows of ambition

I’m going to call out all the lies we believe during the lows.

We are…

unqualified
disqualified
unusable
too much
not enough
not right
tainted
damaged
broken
worthless
unredeemable
unwanted
wrong
insignificant
incapable
alone

Until we say the words, we cannot correct the thoughts. We feel this way because we’re doing work well outside what we’re capable of on our own. Although you feel all of this at various times, you are not these things.

Me and you—the Jesus way of doing life

Curiously, Jesus wasn’t big into the pomp and circumstance of the church. He wasn’t a big robe and trumpet kind of guy. In fact, church people were frequently the ones who frustrated him the most with their “right” answers and know-it-all attitudes.

Instead of wasting time on people who didn’t want to change, Jesus invested in the people who needed and wanted to be with him. He surrounded himself with people who were otherwise marginalized or excluded because he could see the goodness others missed.

The woman at the well, the uptight do-gooder and her lackadaisical sister, and the overbearing mama—he sought them out to be important parts of his ministry.

3 very important encounters with normal people

Everything about Jesus’s encounter with the Samaritan woman in Sychar is counter-cultural. Let’s just start with the fact that Samaria isn’t on the hot list of Jewish destinations. Nor do upstanding men converse with women alone, especially women with a “reputation.”

But Jesus “had to pass through Samaria” (John 4:4, emphasis added). He needed an evangelist in Sychar whose experience and story brought about a revival. This woman, the one who others avoided because she was overly friendly with men, could understand Jesus’s parables and recognized him as the Messiah. A serial divorcee brought an entire town to faith.

If Jesus was looking for a relaxing place to enjoy a meal with friends, Martha’s home might not have been what he was looking for. Yes, she welcomed him in and offered her best, but the atmosphere was tense (Luke 10:38-40). What could an uptight do-gooder offer him? Martha creates space for driven women in Jesus’s world. He sees past her surfacy need for assistance and identifies her greater need—peace and contentment.

“Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus” (John 11:5) so much that when Lazarus died, Jesus used his death as an opportunity to strengthen his relationship with the sisters by raising him from the dead. Not only did they feast together again, but the event was witnessed by many others who shared the story widely. Mary went on also to anoint Jesus before the Passover (John 12:1-8).

Finally, we come to the overbearing mama. Salome, the mother of the Sons of Thunder, dared to honestly answer Jesus. “And he said to her, ‘What do you want?’ She said to him, ‘Say that these two sons of mine are to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your kingdom.’” (Matthew 20:21-22)

Bold? Yes. Salome had been traveling with Jesus, giving her the opportunity for such an honest conversation. Jesus didn’t kick her out for her boldness. Instead, he corrected her and kept her close, a witness to his death (Mark 15:40) and resurrection (Mark 16:1-8). Her request to establish her sons in the place of honor was redirected. Instead, they continued in Jesus’s absence and she became a witness to his greatest miracle.

Together we rise

Jesus loved using regular, imperfect people to share his story and reach people. We are regular, imperfect people with a story to tell.

This is how I see this working out. I’ll share with you how God is working in my life. You share the ways God is changing you. Together, we’ll work to make life more about Jesus and less about us.

Honesty will guide the way.
We’ll stand in the gap and remind each other of the good we see.
Encouragement and accountability will go hand in hand.
We promise to do the next right thing and look for Jesus.

Your Next Steps:

Give compliments. It costs you nothing but is a priceless gift.

Find your people. Who can you help? Who can help you?

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