18 Quotes from Dave Harvey’s book Rescuing Ambition

1. “Our search for approval is over. In Christ, we already have all the approval we need” (Dave Harvey, Rescuing Ambition, p. 56).

2. “My search for approval is over. In Christ I already have all the approval I need.

Because Christ’s righteousness has been transferred to me, all the time and energy I once squandered trying to be liked or praised or to achieve something to validate my existence can now be re-directed toward doing things for God’s glory. I no longer live for approval; I live from approval” (Harvey, Rescuing Ambition, p. 56).

3. “God loves good ambition. It brings him glory as he works through our desires to fulfill his purpose. God doesn’t need us, but amazingly he uses us. But to position us for fruitfulness, he’s continually working in our lives, turning our desires toward his ends and developing our ambitions and accordance with his will” (p. 74-75).

4.“Godly ambition has reward in mind at all times. When our desire for glory is energized by the Hebrews 11 kind of true faith, bold things tend to happen. We do self-denying things the world could never imagine doing. We resist self-indulgence. We take risks for the sake of the gospel” (p. 93).

5. “Godly ambition finds its focus through faith. It battles unbelief with faith. It leans on faith when circumstances scream otherwise. And ambition is confident in the ultimate reward” (p. 97).

6. “To follow Christ means to see allegiance to him as more significant than any right we hold in this life” (p. 104).

7. “With Christ and his example ever before us, our view should be distinctly different from the rest of human civilization” (p. 104).

8. “The career path for the Christian looks different than for others. We should not be hungry for her own name or unrestrained in our self-promotion. We don’t need to broker our future. The gospel reminds us that our ambition should follow Christ’s action. If God submitted his great majesty to the call of servanthood, we can submit our musical talents, are teaching desires, our motivational skills to the call of servanthood as well” (p. 105).

9 “Our willingness to make others success is a great measure of the purity of our ambitions” (p. 106).

10. “When our inner world isn’t open to scrutiny, our outer world eventually collapses” (p. 111).

11. “Humility should never be an excuse for inactivity. Our humility should harness ambition, not hinder it. Talking about your dreams for God isn’t proud—it’s essential. If you’re too humble to dream, maybe you have an incorrect understanding of humility. The servant who is faithful with little still has an eye on the much” (p. 117).

12. Dave Harvey quotes John Stott: 

“Ambitions for self it be quite modest…. Ambitions for God, however, if they are to be worthy, can ever be modest. There’s something inherently inappropriate about cherishing small and fish in this regard. How can we ever be content that he should acquire just a little more on her in the world? No. Once we are clear that God is king. Ambitions for God, however, if they are to be or is he, can ever be modest. There’s something inherently inappropriate about cherishing small and fish in this regard. How can we ever be content that he should acquire just a little more honour in the world? No. Once we are clear that God is King, then we long to see him crowned with glory and honour, and accorded his true place, which is the supreme place. We become ambitious for the spread of his kingdom and righteousness everywhere” (p. 117).

13. “Most people think of ambition as climbing, upward mobility, always looking for step up (and willing to step on others to get it). But biblical ambition points in the other direction—the direction Christ traveled. Our Master emptied himself, lighting the path for our ambitions Were called to follow him.

As we empty ourselves, we find the fullness of Christ. We look out for others’ rights I had of our own. We find joy and advancing seeing others succeed. We ask others to help us think realistically about ourselves” (p. 118).

14. “It’s a paradox: Godly ambition makes us downwardly mobile” (p. 118).

15. Dave Harvey quotes Sinclair Ferguson: “Christian contentment… is the direct fruit of having no higher ambition than to belong to the Lord and to be totally at His disposal and the place He appoints, at the time He chooses, with a provision He is pleased to make” (p. 135). 

16. “Is the fear of risk still looming large in your mind? Good. Risk is nothing to be ignored. It must be accounted for and acknowledged. But while you spend some time studying the reality of all the risks staring your ambition square in the eyes, don’t lose sight of the most important thing.

Risk for risk’s sake is reckless. God isn’t calling you to that. But he’s calling you to great risk for the gospel.

So strive for a faith where the gospel looms largest in your vision. Strive for joy that finds its greatest fulfillment in the expansion of the gospel” (p. 186-87).

17. “Godly ambition means I think about what happens after I’m gone “ (p. 200).

18. “Godly ambition is gospel ambition. We dream because God rescued our corrupted, selfish ambitions and gave us the capacity to desire, dream, and work for his glory “ (p. 210).

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About Paul O'Brien

I am a lot of things; saint and sinner. I struggle and I strive. I am a husband and father of three. I have been in pastoral ministry for 9 years. I went to school at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary but most of my schooling has been at the School of Hard Knocks. I have worked various jobs, including pheasant farmer, toilet maker, construction worker, and I served in the military. My wife and I enjoy reading at coffee shops, taking walks, hanging out with friends and family, and watching our three kid's antics. :)

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