"God does His work in us where we spend most of our time, which for many is at work. We tend to think we'll go out there and do great things for Him. But often our work is a place where God is changing us. And He does it so often through setbacks".
"I have never heard a sermon or talk in a Christian context about competition. Maybe I have missed out somewhere. Maybe it means that ‘competition’ is not something Christians need to talk about or, want to talk about, in church settings. I suspect it’s the latter".
At the age of 22 I had completed a Melbourne University Science degree and Post-graduate Diploma of Audiology and entered the workforce with Australian Hearing. I remember my first year on the job, being so keen to apply all the knowledge I had acquired during my training, and being somewhat outraged at what I perceived to be the more laid-back, cavalier attitudes of my supervisors. I was ready to take on the world, keen to make an impact.
Christian faith and workplace ambition – in the minds of some they are an impossible pair. Certainly a young William Wilberforce once thought so. Wilberforce was five years into his political career when he became a Christian, and in the following months seriously considered quitting politics. In his mind, ambition in the political arena could not possibly connect with his new found faith. However thanks to the encouragement of John Newton he remained in politics, determined instead to let his new found passion for Christ shape his political ambitions. Within a year or two he began hearing about an anti-slave trade movement. And the rest as they say is history.
William Wilberforce’s story is not uncommon. Many a Christian has wrestled with how to marry their faith with workplace ambition. So what is ambition and is it inherently ungodly?
Is ambition a dirty word? Is it inherently ungodly and selfish? Or is it appropriate in the life of a Christian? Is there a way to be ambitious that honours Christ? These were the sorts of questions we considered at our second annual Life @ Work conference.
Overlooking the Yarra in Melbourne, we gathered over two nights to hear from four speakers, unpacking the issues surrounding ambition. And what we discovered is that ambition on its own is morally neutral. The key question is, how are we harnessing it?