Husband. Dad to 5. Student Ministry Pastor. Follower of Jesus. Yatta yatta.


If there’s 20 seconds on the game clock and you want the ball so you can score the game winner, do you call it ambition or arrogance?

If there’s a key vision to be cast in your organization and you say, “I’d like to give that keynote speech to the team”, do you call it ambition or arrogance?

If there’s a problem in the world that you think needs a new perspective to solve, and you start an organization to do just that, do you call it ambition or arrogance?

What about if it’s not you, but it’s your peer?  What about if it’s someone who answers to you? What about if it’s someone who could do your job?  What about if it’s something you think is expected to be your job, but you know would really be better done by someone else in your organization… at least this time?

I don’t think this is a hypothetical question.  I don’t think it’s a rare occurrence either.   I think all day long, in all kinds of business places, relationships, and playing fields, people are doing a dance:  longing to fuel their personal ambition and accusing others around them of prideful arrogance when they long for it too.  I think as a high school pastor, I am constantly trying to decide which of these two I see in myself, my peers, and the students I work with as we dream big dreams.

Here’s the difference:

ARROGANCE: is a selfish promotion of me for my own internal benefit and external reward.

  • so if you want the ball for the camera, it’s arrogant.
  • if you want the speech for the applause, it’s arrogant. 
  • if you want to start the organization to prove yourself better than others, it’s arrogant.

AMBITION: is an intense desire to make a difference to a degree that it often propels the individual into influence by default.

  • so if you have proven yourself to be the best scorer, it’s ambition.
  • if you are a communicator who is passionate and clear on the vision for the speech, it’s ambition.
  • if you are the one who can’t sleep at night because of the problem, it’s ambition.


think about it.

Moses wasn’t called humble for telling God he wasn’t good enough to do the job.  Nehemiah wasn’t called arrogant for wanting to rebuild the wall and asking for money and personal leave time to get it done.

So pray about your vision. Hold it before God with an open hand.  Then run after your dreams.  Go pitch the book proposal.  Go score the goal.  Go play the song or start that band. Go run the race.  Go make that phone call.  Go pour gasoline on your ambition and cold water on arrogance.

Please don’t just sit there, GO CHANGE THE WORLD!


  1. Dude. So good. I’ve been chewing on a post about this and trying to figure out how to say it. The sports part is a perfect way to help describe it.

    The truth is that in some circles, those in power view ambition as a sort of sin. As you mentioned, it’s just not the case. God created some people to be ambitious, not in a prideful way, but it an amazing way.

    I think Nehemiah was a whole lot ambitious.

    To me, the thing I need to know about an ambitious person, is that they are SHAKING IN THEIR BOOTS but still going through with it.

  2. Brian good post, but a thought I have in regards to what you have begun to unpack is this.

    To what degree & when can something that starts as Ambition turn into Arrogance?

    How do we allow those yearnings to serve others, make a difference & honor Christ with our lives NOT turn into a seeking for the applause or self projection to the lime light?

    I’ve seen many people start in ambition but turn to arrogance. Does that observation keep me/someone from running with their ambition?

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