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Rescuing Ambition Paperback – April 14, 2010

4.4 out of 5 stars 27 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

“In Rescuing Ambition, Dave Harvey distinguishes ambition for the glory of God, which is good, from ambition for the glory of self, which is bad. But godly ambition doesn’t exist in a vacuum, so Harvey helps us see how it is intertwined with humility, contentment, faith, and above all, the gospel. Dave Harvey is both an experienced pastor and a gifted writer, so you will find this book not only profitable but also hard to put down.”
Jerry Bridges, author, The Pursuit of Holiness

“Thomas Watson said, ‘Selfish ambition is the mother of all schisms.’ But Dave Harvey shows us a better way in Rescuing Ambition. With wit and wisdom, Dave uncovers the truth in scripture to teach how God forms a gospel-driven ambition in us for use in his mission and for his glory. I hope every leader in the church today will read Rescuing Ambition.”
Ed Stetzer, President, LifeWay Research; author, Subversive Kingdom

“Dave Harvey thinks well, writes well, tells good stories, and cites people of substance and insight. I have long appreciated Dave’s integrity, wisdom and perspective. Were I not afraid of feeding his ambition for greatness, or my ambition to write a memorable endorsement, I would add that Rescuing Ambition is biblical, honest, witty, and sometimes amusing. I’m happy to recommend this fine book on an important and overlooked subject.”
Randy Alcorn, Founder and Director, Eternal Perspective Ministries; author, Heaven and Happiness

“Whether you’re on Main Street or Wall Street this book has something to say to you. No author has done a better job of helping me understand my heart, my motives, and my Savior. Harvey uses humor, Scripture, and real-life examples to help us balance our dreams and callings, while always reminding us that Jesus is the Christ.”
Josh Deckard, Former Assistant Press Secretary to President Bush

“Ambition is war; a battle between the sin-driven pursuit of autonomy, self-sufficiency, and self-glory and a humble desire that everything you do would reflect the one thing that is excellent in every way, the glory of God. On every page, Harvey alerts us to this war and trains us to be good soldiers.”
Paul David Tripp, President, Paul Tripp Ministries; author, What Did You Expect?

“As the leader of an organization expressly dedicated to seeing the gospel deepen in our own lives as well as expand outward to the nations, I’m grateful for Dave Harvey’s recovery of the idea of ambition. Dave’s book is a powerful, plainspoken, Scripture-saturated reminder that when the gospel is the center of our identity and security, we can be freed from the petty dreams and small-minded motivations that often hamstring ministry. In the gospel, we find the freedom to be truly ambitious.”
Bob Osborne, Executive Director, World Harvest Mission

“From page one, Dave’s writing style gripped me with his humor, humility, and down-to-earth, Bible-saturated style. I don’t think I have ever seen a book on ambition, but I have been trying to provoke men to find some ambition, borrow some, or if they were really ambitious, even steal some! Dave writes to those of us who aren’t ambitious enough to read (much less comprehend) a thick theological treatise, but are interested enough to read the words of someone who understands that we are often content to watch others with ambition as they ride up mountains, compose great music, and attempt the unthinkable—like homeschool three kids. This is not a self-help book that doesn’t really help; it is a wake-up alarm to rouse the good gifts specifically placed within us by God for his own glory.”
Scott Thomas, Founder, Gospel Coach; coauthor, Gospel Coach: Shepherding Leaders to Glorify God

“I didn’t know that my ambition was defective and in need of rescuing until I read this book. Harvey writes with such compelling insight and clarity that you’re left thinking the lack of godly ambition ranks alongside pragmatism and theological flimsiness as ailments afflicting the church today. Yet, at root, this book isn’t about problem-hunting nearly as much as it is about the gospel, salvation, and embracing the ambitious agenda Jesus sets for our lives. Those who want to live with high and glorious purpose for the Savior must read this book. So do those who don’t, and those who never thought about what godly ambition really involves. Rescuing Ambition calls us to live large, bold lives by swiping as much glory for Jesus as possible.”
Thabiti M. AnyabwilePastor, Anacostia River Church, Washington, D. C.; author, What Is a Healthy Church Member?

“Dave Harvey teaches us that God wants ambition back in our understanding of godliness and spiritual health. As Christians, we are to be zealous for good works (Titus 2:13)—that is, ambitious for them. We are to be people who dream and do big things for the glory of God and the good of others. Let’s not be content with small dreams cloaked in a guise of humility. This is a critical book for the church today because it helps us recover the spirit of William Carey, who ambitiously said ‘Expect great things from God. Attempt great things for God.’”
Matt Perman, Director of Strategy, Desiring God Ministries

“Dave Harvey has delivered a compelling case for developing God-ward ambition in the lives of men and women alike. This insightful book carries a timely message in our ‘whatever’ culture: we all have ambition, but where it is aimed and how it is used is worth serious consideration. With self-effacing humor, Dave reveals how being wired for glory can either corrupt us or lead us to a divine agenda. Highly recommended!”
Carolyn McCulley, filmmaker; speaker; author, The Measure of Success, Radical Womanhood, and Did I Kiss Marriage Goodbye?

“Only an ambitious person would try to rescue ambition! Only an ambitious person would actually take the time to write a book on the topic. And only a humble person could accomplish the task! There is a vast difference between selfish ambition and godly ambition. If you want to know what sets them apart, read this book and discover the radical difference between self-glory and God’s glory. As in his book on marriage, When Sinners Say “I Do,” you will find Dave writing out of his own failures and growth in grace. Interestingly, ambition can be rescued but you won’t get there without bathing ambition in gospel virtues and life experiences like humility, service, contentment, failure, and community. And you won’t get there without a Redeemer. Dave makes certain that you meet this Redeemer, Jesus, throughout the pages of this book. If you struggle with selfish ambition or lack ambition altogether, this book will help you.”
Timothy S. Lane, Executive Director, The Christian Counseling and Educational Foundation

“Proud people will benefit from reading this book and learning to bend their ambition towards God's will. Those who are falsely humble will benefit even more by growing the godly ambition to pursue him with their whole life.”
Mike Anderson, Managing Director, BAJI

“Dave Harvey isn’t satisfied to live a mediocre life and he isn’t satisfied to see the followers of Jesus live that way either. In his down-to-earth style, Dave takes the concept of ambition from the ‘reject’ pile of Christian vocabulary and reminds us that it is desirable, no, it is a gospel imperative to be ambitious for the right reasons and the right goals. His arguments are not psycho-babble, either, but grounded in scripture, theologically sound, and intensely practical.”
Timothy Z. Witmer, Professor of Practical Theology, Westminster Theological Seminary; author, The Shepherd Leader and The Shepherd Leader at Home

"Dave Harvey brilliantly and accessibly answers the question, ‘Can Christians be humble and ambitious at the same time?’ He explains why and how we can, always rooting his pre- sentation in Scripture. This is a book that has needed to be written. You will not be disappointed.”
Jim Tebbe, Former Vice President of Missions and Director, Urbana Missions Conference, Intervarsity Christian Fellowship

About the Author

Dave Harvey (DMin, Westminster Theological Seminary) is the pastor of preaching at Four Oaks Community Church in Tallahassee, Florida. Dave has over 25 years of pastoral experience and has traveled nationally and internationally teaching Christians, equipping pastors, and training church planters. He is the Executive Director of Sojourn Network, founder of AmICalled.com, and serves on the board of the Christian Counseling and Educational Foundation (CCEF). Dave is the author of Am I Called?, Rescuing Ambition, and When Sinners Say I Do, as well as a contributing author to Worldliness: Resisting the Seduction of a Fallen World.

C. J. Mahaney is the senior pastor of Sovereign Grace Church of Louisville. He has written, edited and contributed to numerous books, including Proclaiming a Cross-Centered Theology; Don't Waste Your Sports; and Sex, Romance and the Glory of God. C. J. and his wife, Carolyn, are the parents of three married daughters and one son, and the happy grandparents to twelve grandchildren.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Crossway (April 14, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1433514915
  • ISBN-13: 978-1433514913
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.6 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #383,413 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

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By John Gardner on June 24, 2010
Format: Paperback
Have you ever been described as "ambitious"? If so, was it intended as a compliment or a criticism? Is ambition a trait that Christians ought to desire?

Ambition is certainly a topic not often addressed by Christian authors and pastors (Dave Harvey is both). As the book reminds us, this is a word that frequently has a negative connotation for Christians... but should it be that way? The author thinks not.

The problem, Harvey says, is that we have failed to separate "ambition" from "selfish ambition". Ambition, like many other things that drive us (money, sex, etc), is not inherently bad, but it is very prone to being twisted toward selfish, sinful uses. Ambition, simply defined, is merely "a quest for glory". As this book contends, then, we were created for ambition, because we were created to be glory-seekers! The problem is not that we seek glory, but that we so often seek our own glory, rather than seeking God's glory.

The goal of Rescuing Ambition is to do just that: to rescue this God-given drive to pursue His glory from our own vain attempts to glorify ourselves. The world certainly does not make this easy, as our entire culture is geared toward glorifying -- being ambitious for -- things other than God. Unfortunately, Christians tend to react in one of two ways: We either conform to this worldy culture of selfish ambition, or we seek to crush ambition itself. This results in either pride or passivity.

So Harvey takes readers on a journey through Scripture, and through the personal experiences of many ambitious and godly Christians, to give a holistic concept of godly ambition that is attainable (and in fact commanded) for every Christian.
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Ambition is rarely considered a virtue for Christians. Historically, it's carried with it connotations of seeking after personal glory and fame; of desiring for my own greatness, rather than God's. But Dave Harvey wants to change our understanding of ambition and show us that being ambitious doesn't necessarily mean being selfish. That's why he wrote Rescuing Ambition.

Ambition Defined
In this book, Harvey walks readers through a biblical understanding of ambition, beginning with our creation. "We love glory," he writes (p. 21). "We were created to look for it and to love it when we find it." It's why we love rock stars, actors, authors, athletes. It's why we want to be those things. There's glory there, even if it's fleeting.

And God doesn't condemn seeking after glory--in fact, says Harvey, he commends it. But the glory we're to seek after is His. It's Christ. Christ is "the radiance of the glory of God" (Heb. 1:3), and therefore the object of godly pursuit. To seek after glory is to seek after Christ and the things he pursues.

This is to be our ambition.

Ambition Distorted
As Harvey continues, he shows us how our ambitions have been corrupted by sin as we've "exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things" (Rom. 1:23). Thus, naturally our ambitions turn in on ourselves, where we seek to make ourselves great. However, Harvey says, the opposite occurs. We actually make ourselves smaller by trying to make ourselves great. Worse, we place ourselves under God's wrath. He writes:

"Deeply embedded in my sinful flesh is a desire to install myself as lord over all. I want my name worshiped, my glory exalted, and my fame talked about long after I'm dead.
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Pop culture's message calls out to dream big. Envision greatness and make it a reality. Believe in yourself and shine like a star. This endless focus on self is antithetical to the Christian worldview and thus brings a bad connotation to the word "ambition". Rather than pursuing selfish gain, believers are to live for the glory of God. Instead of cultivating selfish dreams, followers of Christ are to seek the will of the Lord. Does this mean the word "ambition" should be struck from Christian vocabulary? Are all aspirations bad? Are Christians to sacrifice all dreaming for the sake of service?

Dave Harvey gives a resounding "no" within his book Rescuing Ambition. Within this work, the author seeks to rescue the word "ambition" from the world's me-first philosophy. He states that desire and determination are good responses to give a worthy object. Thus, the only truly commendable end of ambition is found in God. When one sees and understands His glory, then life will be lived with a determination to see His name praised. Thus a godly ambition can be cultivated and embraced. Each chapter of the book is designed to help believers see the Lord in greater ways while growing in their aspiration to see Him honored. In the end, ambition when properly directed is a good thing.

The book's strength lies in its solid theology. The writer sticks with scripture and never strays too far from the text. The practical applications to the book are found throughout the work and thus a timely subject is well addressed. The only weakness to the book is found in its rather tedious writing style. The book is straightforward and clear, but at times lacks the style to keep one interested. Thus many readers will only be able to digest a few pages at a time before taking a break. Still, it is a worthy subject which is well addressed. All in all - a good read.
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