I knew the January Women’s March had captured the national zeitgeist when photos of a high school friend wearing one of the infamous pink knit caps alongside his daughter appeared on Facebook. “Our house is filled with nasty women,” his sign proclaimed, one of millions of similar posters waving coast to coast.
Who would have dreamed the Women’s March would become the largest protest gathering in U.S. history? What a spectacle! But after an initial wave of excitement, life moved on; the nation went back to the busyness of carpool runs, cat videos, and quarterly reports. As the intensity of the day faded, I wondered if the event accomplished what its organizers had hoped. Marchers experienced a cathartic outpouring of emotion, but would that expression lead to action? Could the solidarity formed on a single day produce lasting change?
Seeing the emotion of the women’s march fade reinforced my conviction that greater gains will be won through the faithful engagement of godly women in the boardrooms, family rooms, and classrooms of our communities than pithy posters or well-timed tweets.
It’s a conviction that drives Denver Institute’s Women & Vocation Initiative, a project educating and equipping Christian women to steward their gifts and influence for God’s glory. And it’s a perspective that inspired our upcoming event, “Ambition: Living with Drive & Devotion” Friday, March 10th.
The word ambition makes some women uneasy, calling to mind self-serving strivers who pursue their goals at any cost. Other women say, “I’ve never seen myself as ambitious,” associating ambition with character traits that don’t fit their personality or role in life. Yet, as featured speaker Carolyn McCulley argues, “God has made us to be people who have desires… Ambition isn’t just for men, it isn’t just for business — it’s an essential component of being human.”
Scripture tells the story of an ambitious God, who set the world in motion and invites us to join his mission of putting our broken world right. To bear God’s image means making his ambitions our own. And his ambitions are not small. To quote theologian John Stott: “Ambitions for God… if they are to be worthy, can never be modest. There is something inherently inappropriate about cherishing small ambitions for God. 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.”
Ambition is not limited by gender or standing in life — it is for everyone who follows God. Christ praised ambition when he blessed those who “hunger and thirst for righteousness,” while Paul strained toward what was ahead… pressing on toward the goal to win the prize for which God had called him (Matt 5:16, paraphrase of Phil 3:13-14.) Ruth, Deborah, Lydia, Rahab, and Priscilla showed similar determination, embodying ambition in their own unique ways.
Long after the posters are folded and the hats packed away, our corporations and cul-de-sacs will still need the influence of Christian women ambitiously pursuing Kingdom goals.
What would it look like for you to embrace ambition — to explore the dreams God’s given you, for his glory and others’ good?
“The Lord announces the word, and the women who proclaim it are a mighty throng.” – Psalm 68:11
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This post was published March 8, 2017
Joanna serves as Denver Institute’s Director of Public Engagement, hosts the Faith & Work Podcast, and founded Women, Work, & Calling, a national initiative that disciples women for godly influence in public life. Prior to coming to the Institute, Joanna worked in global telecom, nonprofit consulting, and campus ministry with Cru. She served as associate faculty at Denver Seminary and as a sewing instructor at Fancy Tiger Crafts. A third-generation Coloradan, Joanna appreciates both the state’s innovative culture and its cowboy roots. She has an MA in Social Entrepreneurship from Bakke Graduate University and graduated magna cum laude from the University of Colorado, Boulder. She also completed a certificate of Women in Leadership through Cornell University.
She is the author of Women, Work, & Calling: Step Into Your Place in God’s World (IVP, Fall 2023) and is a contributor to the multi-author book, Women & Work: Bearing God’s Image and Joining in His Mission through our Work (B&H Publishing, Spring 2023).