man praying with passion

In this short series, we’re talking about the top two reasons women wouldn’t date an otherwise godly man.  Or, to put it more positively, we’re looking at areas guys should cultivate (and might overlook) as they get ready for a marriage that blesses their wives and tells the truth about Christ and his church.

Based on a survey I conducted, 55% of godly women wouldn’t consider dating a guy who doesn’t take care of himself physically.  Nearly 80% of women, though, wouldn’t date a man who lacks ambition and passion.  (I’m using those two terms similarly.)

But men, this isn’t just about getting a date and getting married so you can live a nice Christian life.  If you want to live into the great things God has planned for you (see Ephesians 2:10), you’re going to need some serious, godly ambition.

As some people pointed out on Facebook, ambition and passion can certainly be selfish.  The New Testament agrees, with 4 of 5 references to ‘ambition’ being negative.

But as from author Dave Harvey last time, ambition is ‘the God-implanted drive to improve, produce, develop, and create.’  So if you’ve ever wanted to create, improve, or do something, you’ve been ambitious.

After exploring six reasons why men might lack ambition last time, this time we’ll talk about how we can use that passion and ambition for his glory and the good of the world.

And put yourself in a good position to find, love and serve a godly wife.

The Heart Of True Ambition

Imagine for a moment that you’re talking about how to develop godly ambition with a guy you’re discipling.  You only get to share one piece of advice.  What would it be?

The heart of ambition (or anything worthwhile, really) is not so much about tips, secrets, or hacks.

Ambition is ultimately about our desires, what we want.  So to the extent that the core of our being wants what God wants, our ambition will be good and safe.  As Titus 1:15 puts it, ‘to the pure all things are pure.’

So if there’s a trick to ambition, it’s figuring out what God wants, and asking him to align our desires with that.

Matthew 22:37-39 is a great place to start.  According to Jesus, our calling is simply (ha) to love God first, and love others like we love ourselves.

If we truly take those passions into the core of our being, we can safely attempt anything.  If love for God and others is at the center of our lives, we’re going to have good, strong, super-sized desires and ambitions.

Of course, the flavor of that ambition and passion may look wildly different depending upon how God has put you together.  This isn’t about being Type A or an extrovert.

If you’re willing to submit your ambition to God, you will live a life that matters.  And be ready to love a woman like Christ loves his church.

And that’s attractive to godly women.

4 Ways To Grow Godly Passion & Ambition

So the absolute key to living with bold, yet safe, ambition is to keep growing in love for Christ and the people around us.  But let’s build on that with four short principles that will help you put feet on that in your everyday life.

1. Recognize and repent when you see signs of selfish ambition.

Looking at that short list of five New Testament passages that mention ambition is insightful.  James 3:16 says, for example, ‘where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder.’  Bad, driven passion and ambition fuels internal disorder that spills over into our relationships and produces chaos.  Like the times where I’ve snapped at my kids for interrupting my blogging.  (How ironic, right?)  When we see the rotten fruit of our fallen ambition, we should head straight for Jesus to receive forgiveness and new power to obey.

2. Find examples godly men you can follow.

If we want to live with godly passion, we need real life models we can follow.  Obviously, patterning our lives after great men of God from the word is our starting point.  ‘Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ’, Paul reminds us. (1 Corinthians 11:1).  Men long gone can mentor us through books, and the internet can give us a window into godly men today.  John Piper has had a massive influence on me.  And don’t forget to find actual, real life men who can disciple, love and challenge you, too.

3. Let the gospel set you free from fear.

‘In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses.’ (Ephesians 1:7)  When we believe more deeply that we’re loved because of Christ’s sacrifice, the fear that holds us back from living with bold passion for Christ melts away.  If God accepts us when we fail, who cares what others think?

4. Keep God’s unstoppable ambition in front of you.

No one does ambition like God!  He won’t stop until ‘at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.’ (Philippians 2:10-11)  He is passionate about his glory, our good, and the complete transformation of the entire universe.  As we meditate on his massive plan, our ambition to join him will grow, and we’ll find it easier to live with godly ambition for Christ in our own lives, too.

Godly Passion And Marriage

To this point, I haven’t said a ton about ambition and marriage, even though that’s the bigger framework for this series.  And that’s intentional.

Guys, making marriage the endgame of your ambition is too small.  And too selfish.  Godly women will sniff it out.  God’s call is to set your sights on him, and to follow him with passion.  As you do that, godly women will find that attractive.

That’s exactly what some of them told me in our email exchanges on this topic.  For example, one woman said,

‘I prefer to be around people who are passionate about following the Lord… they are aware of the gifts God has given them and they are actively using these gifts for his kingdom. It means they are actively seeking the Lord for that day and praying about bigger decisions down the road… Knowing Jesus is exciting!’

So, guys, if you want to find a godly wife, follow God with passion yourself.  When we make God our treasure, we become attractive to godly women who have made him their treasure, too.

Questions for Reflection:

  1. Guys, can you honestly say that you’re pursuing God for God, trusting that (God willing) marriage will take care of itself?
  2. What’s your next step in pursuing God with more passion?

Would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!

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  • Very encouraging to me, Bryan. Thanks for your wise words to continue chasing after the Lord.

    • Thanks for taking the time to let me know it was helpful, Sam. My deepest desire is that these posts would help us all pursue God together.

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