Do you have ambition? Do you have energy? Do you have a vision?
If you are a young man, I want to ask you those three questions. You should answer them honestly. Don’t misunderstand. I’m not referring in these question to worldly ambition, energy, and vision. I’m talking about godly ambition, Godward energy, righteous vision. Do you have these qualities? If you don’t, are you developing them in yourself? Or do you simply evaluate yourself, find a lack of ambition and vision, and thereby excuse yourself from ever doing something significant? You have to answer these questions. Only you truly know the state of your heart.
I ask these questions because I sense a need for young men (defined as 20-35) to get a vision for life. Many among my generation did not have a father around to impart a broad-ranging plan for life, to cast a vision for the lives of their sons. As a result, many young men do not simply dream small. Many young men–even godly men, even seminarians!–don’t dream at all. They lope through seminary, continually fighting laziness in their classes, unsure of themselves, uncertain as to what the future holds, afraid to dream, certain that any hint of ambition or zeal is impious. We have, in short, a lack of testosterone. We need to move away from over-realized pietism that views any inkling of ambition as wrong. It is not wrong to be ambitious in a kingdom sense, to cast a vision for one’s life that centers around one’s understanding of one’s gifts and the confirmation of that understanding by the member of one’s local church. It is right to do so. It is essential to do so. It is godly to dream big, to think of all that one could possibly do for the kingdom, to daydream about spending one’s life in totality through the exercise of the gifts God has given us. Though I am thinking of my context here, my seminary setting, this is true for all Christians. So many of us lack a vision for life and assume that all ambition and energy is impious unless directly related to our devotions. This is not true. The apostles were ambitious for the kingdom. They spread the gospel with zeal and energy and vision and life and courage. They were anything but timid and overly pious and hesitant and unsure. They struck out in boldness and ambition, and you know the result. The world turned on its head.
I say all this to close this mini-series on Christian witness to the college campus. I see such an energy and liveliness in the ministry of many parachurch groups to the university. Conversely, I see such a deadness and distractedness in the ministry of many local churches to the university. If things are to be righted here, we need a whole chunk of young men to catch a bold vision for the American college campus, and to gear themselves up to reach it. We need young men not simply to idle their time away in their dorm room, or goof off with their friends, or cry on their wife’s shoulder over their workload, but to rise up, construct an ambitious plan for their lives, and then work diligently to accomplish that plan. Don’t live life weakly. Live it boldly for the Lord. Set your sights on something very difficult to do, and then do all you can to reach that goal. You may find that you can’t reach it, and you’ll need to be realistic and honest as you go, and to listen to counsel and wisdom. But at least you’ll be able to look back on the last day and say, “I tried, Lord–I was zealous for your name. I gave it my all.”
If that’s true, you know what He will say.