Moving on to the next pitfall of the Mirror, Mirror Syndrome.
To get the full picture, you can get links to all the articles in the Mirror, Mirror series here.
#3 – Guarding Against Misplaced Ambitions
I know people who, unlike the ones mentioned in the earlier pitfalls, do use their gifts to building something permanent and eternal – be it a good cause, an organization, a ministry. These are great dreams and bless many! BUT when these God-given dreams become their ultimate ambition, that is when the focus shifts. It usually becomes a “Look at me and what I can do!” circus show.
What are some common misplaced ambitions?
- Doing great exploits for God
- Making a difference in this world
- Doing good for people
- Championing a cause
- Being an inspiration to others
Don’t these ambitions sound good? Well… they ARE great desires!
The problem only arises when they become a person’s ultimate ambition. That’s when focus shifts to self, and these God-given dreams which are eternal end up being reduced to the size of one person’s ego.
Let us take a look at some ways to avoid this pitfall.
1. LIVE FOR A DREAM THAT IS BIGGER THAN YOUR LIFETIME – ABRAHAM
Bible reference: Hebrews 11: 8-13, Hebrews 11: 17-19
The first time Abraham comes on the scene, it is with a big bang (Genesis 12). God Himself gives a tremendous promise of making him a great nation, blessing him, and even blessing the whole earth through him – talk about a shining star! Nobody’s star could’ve shone brighter than Abraham’s.
I wonder how many of us – if God were to speak to us in an audible voice that He would bless the whole earth through us – would get so caught up in our self-importance and thoughts about doing great things? I probably would’ve.
But Abraham was different. Quite the contrary, he never once spoke about “his call” or “his destiny”. He never fought to establish himself – read his story in Genesis.
When God asked him to sacrifice his only son Isaac, He was willing to obey. How was he going to have “descendants as numerous as the stars” (15:5, 22:17, Genesis 26:4) – which God promised THREE times (when God repeats something 3 times, you’d better believe He means it!) – if his only son was dead? Where would the descendants come from then?
But Abraham wasn’t focused on that! He had his eyes fixed on something bigger, something more eternal than his own destiny. He welcomed the things to come from a distance (Hebrews 11:13), and lived his whole life for it.
– Live for The Story that is bigger than your life’s story
– Remember that your story is one part of a much bigger Story
– Ask God to give you a revelation of the eternal picture, of which you play a part in.
– Ask Holy Spirit to keep your eyes fixed on the big picture, no matter how great a part you may play in it.
2. LIVE FOR A DREAM THAT DOES NOT GUARANTEE GLAMOUR AND POPULARITY – MOSES
Bible reference: Exodus – Deuteronomy
Talk about a servant leader and Moses’ name will have to come up at some point.
This man was a Prince of a great civilization and must have been accustomed to comforts, adoration, and fame. He would have his every whim and fancy catered to.
But once he received the call of God, he went straight into the desert to become a shepherd for 40 years. After which he returned to Egypt to save the Jews out of Pharoah’s hand… only to spend the rest of his life back in the desert, because of the hard hearts of the people he was leading.
What did he get for all his sacrifices? Betrayal, complaints, and ungratefulness. A far cry from life as a Prince.
How did Moses pour out his life for a people who neither celebrated nor appreciated him; who in fact caused him plenty of trouble? I believe it was because of his first encounter with God at the burning bush. He caught a glimpse of the bigness of God (“I AM what I am”) – and his life was forever caught up in it.
– Ask ourselves – Would I still pursue my dream/ambitions if it doesn’t bring me recognition/gratification? If not, then perhaps we aren’t dreaming big enough (;
– Ask God for an encounter with Him that will forever redefine the ambition and purpose of your life.
3. LIVE FOR A DREAM THAT YOU WOULD DIE FOR – ESTHER
Bible reference: Esther
Esther is celebrated as a woman who saved the Jews from massacre…. today. At the point of her heroic act, she didn’t know if she would even make it out alive, much less see the fulfillment of her purpose.
But she knew that her dream/ambition/purpose was worth her life, which is why she said, “If I perish, I perish”. And that made all the difference.
– Live for a dream that you would be willing to give your life for… before you ever see it come to fruition.
– If your dreams can be fulfilled in your lifetime, then you probably aren’t dreaming big enough.
4. LIVE FOR A DREAM THAT YOU WOULD BE WILLING TO LET OTHERS TAKE THE CREDIT FOR – PAUL
Bible reference: I Corinthians 3
Paul dedicated his life to preaching the gospel. In the process, he was subjected to persecution, beatings and several periods of imprisonment. He was a hero of the faith, and was probably lauded thus by many of his followers.
But Paul refused to get caught up in the politics of leadership. He wasn’t territorial/possessive; he was secure in his role and all he wanted was just to fulfill it. Why? Because he lived only for Jesus! His greatest desire was to depart from this earth and be with Jesus – he was only remaining here on earth for Jesus’ sake; that He would be glorified through Paul’s life. (Philippians 1: 20-26)
– Ask ourselves – Would I still pursue my dream/ambitions if the credit goes to someone else?
– Ask God for a perspective like Paul’s
Through these case studies, one thing stands out to me:
If my dreams are as big as my lifetime/ego/capabilities – then I am not dreaming big enough.
I need to get caught up in the ultimate Dream of God’s heart, in His Story which began before Genesis and will continue after Revelations. This will protect me from limiting my ambitions to myself, thus guarding me against the pitfall into cruel Stepmotherhood.
Next week, I will discuss the FINAL pitfall of the Mirror, Mirror Syndrome! Till then, share with me your thoughts about guarding against misplaced identity (: