Friday, 14 January 2011

'An ambitious young man...'

I've been a subscriber to 'Leadership' journal for a number of years now - more or less since I came into ministry back in the 90s. I find it a very useful and thought-provoking read, and it helps me to think through a number of aspects of leadership and ministry.

I'm currently reading the latest issue, which tackles the subject of 'Ambition'. Is this ever a good thing for Christian ministers? How do we cope with it? I have to confess that it is a matter that I've been aware of in myself, and that others have noticed at times in me. I was once accused (I think that's the right word) of being 'an ambitious young man' by a former District Chair (you can tell it was a while ago - he called me a 'young man'!), and at the time it really bothered me: after all, what was wrong with ambition, if you were ambitious for the Kingdom of God?

Within the sphere of work that I move in there's very little room for ambition. There's no real hierarchy within British Methodism (though there are those who think that there is): presbyters are presbyters, irrespective of whether they exercise that ministry as a Chair, a Superintendent, a Connexional officer or as a humble (or sometimes not so humble) circuit minister. There is no ladder, or greasy pole, to climb, so ambition would seem to be a fruitless exercise.

What matters to me, and I hope to all my ministerial colleagues (Lay, Presbyteral or Diaconal) is that I am in the right place, doing the right thing - which is looking for what God's doing and getting alongside: sharing in the Missio Dei. Anything else is ultimately fruitless and pointless. I used to hanker after Superintendency, but those opportunities never arose, or when they did were not right. At times I still do, though less so as time goes by. If it's right, when I finally move on from here, then it'll be right.

I am ambitious to be where God wants me to be, doing what God wants me to do, with the people God wants me to work alongside. I think that will suffice - I certainly hope it will.