Wednesday, January 26, 2022

The question of ambition

We've been super-busy lately. On my end, I've had writing deadlines, work obligations, and an overnight business trip. On Don's end, he's working on an order of tankards that he really doesn't want to work on. (In the next year, Older Daughter will be moving closer and taking over the woodcraft business. Don can't wait for that day to arrive!)

All this busyness has put homestead projects on hold, both big and small. We have so many plans for our new property, and yet those durned work obligations keep getting in the way. The nerve.

While it's sometimes frustrating to be delayed on home projects by the immediate needs of work obligations, it must be logically pointed out that without the income provided by the work obligations, a lot of home projects simply would never get done. Duh.

Which led me to thinking, in a convoluted sort of way, about the subject of ambition, and how it means different things for different people.

A few years ago, someone I like and respect asked me where I saw myself in ten years. What, he wanted to know, is our (my husband’s and my) goal over the next decade?  This question was asked because the gentleman is a go-getter, a business whiz, an operational genius whose ambition drove him to strive for greater and better things.

I replied that we were very satisfied with our present conditions. We were happy with our marriage, our children, our employment, our farm.

But my questioner persisted. Surely we had some lofty goals we wanted to achieve? Didn't we want to find a corporate ladder to climb? Didn’t we want financial wealth or societal acclaim? Didn’t we want to change the world in some way? As politely as I could, I said no.

This line of questioning happened years ago, and I’ve always remembered it.  Until questioned, I never realized I had such an utter lack of ambition. Or at least, what I lack is ambition as measured by those who are eager to make a huge and impressive mark in the world.

Is it such a bad thing to be content with one's lot? When did a lack of ambition become a bad thing?

I've never wanted a fast-lane sort of life, and while I understand some people thrive under those conditions, it would beat me down. I prefer a low-key lifestyle, where stress is minimized and contentment high.

As a trivial example: As I started working on this blog post, dawn was edging over the land. I glanced out the window and noticed how some early clouds had a lovely palette of pastel colors. It was nothing earth-shattering or dramatic, just peaceful and nice. Do ambitious people notice such things?

A couple of my favorite Bible verses underscore the downside to ambition. 1 Timothy 6:6-9 says, "But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. "

And the verse that has become my motto, 1 Thessalonians 4:11-12: "...and to make it your ambition to lead a quiet life: You should mind your own business and work with your hands, just as we told you, so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody."

Ain't that great?

As one wise reader once put it, "One man's stagnant pond is another man's Walden."

My ambition today is to finish an article I'm working, sort through some piled-up paperwork and get things filed, and clean the bathroom. Or is that too "stagnant"?

Time to get busy.


  1. Great verse for your motto. Your blogis such afun and interesting read. Thanks!

  2. You wanted to write romance novels and you did. That is ambitious.

  3. Myself, I've never really been an ambitious man as far as work goes, but I've always been ambitious in my hobbies. I've never cared to leave my mark on the world, just the opposite. I love my reclusive and quiet life.

  4. It's funny how different perspectives can be. As an outsider looking in I would consider you to be quite ambitious, and would go so far as to say that you are making a wonderful impact on those in the world that are fortunate enough to have found you. I have been following your blog since 2010, shortly after having had my first child, and honestly cannot think of many people that would better exemplify ambition and determination, which to me are somewhat synonymous. Your efforts and experiences over the years have inspired me to be more ambitious in many of my own projects, learning to garden, preserve, frugality etc, and I have so enjoyed passing the same skills down to my now three children. You're reach goes further than you know, and I thank you for it!


  5. I love the verse you have as your motto.....after years of doing so much for work and everyone else, I'm liking my lack of ambition. I'm enjoying my knitting, camping and family. I'd much rather stay home and out of the busyness.

  6. When asked, I've always said, we have enough, we are content.

  7. Patrice, I think many of us have ambitions. It is just that they do not fit into the mold of the current model.

  8. Boy! Life in the fast lane sure is interesting to observe especially from the relative comfort of handicapped parking. I ain't got everything I always wanted but I'm old enough to know that I should be glad I didn't get some of the things I wanted.

  9. I have always thought that being competitive as a bad thing and being content with what you have a blessing. I feel this forever keeping up with the Jones the reason we are all in debt etc the result. Learn to enjoy what you have you will be more content and less stressed.

  10. My ambition is to be a mighty prayer warrior for those I love, those needs I can see or hear about, and for those who ask for me to pray.
    Right after co-vid hit I was at Walmart stocking up for a month or so of not going back to town and a worker I did not know walked up to me and said "You're a Christian aren't you? I need you to pray for me!" I asked for more specifics since she was right in front of me and asked. Husband's salvation, children, her marriage. She didn't want prayer in the store since she was working. I went home with her situation on my mind, and praying.
    While washing dishes I suddenly realized the glass window was a good place to use my glass markers on ! Her name went on that window, and is still there. I still think of her and her family and that she was prompted to ask a stranger to pray for her loved ones. And I still pray for them.
    Isolation can be a very productive place for all kinds of people. It's not always easy even for those of us who mostly like it. But it's a good place to pray from.
    Gotta say ditto to all of this post. Especially the scripture references.

  11. I am a very low key, type of person myself. As long as I have something to do each day, that is all I want to have on my list. Love the Bible verses you have chosen. We have moved from an acreage ourselves 3 years ago and now live in a small village. I still garden and can, my hubby does small jobs to bring in extra money in our retirement. But we have raised our kids well, our mortgage is paid, we are living on our SS income for the most part. We homeschooled our kids and they have done well now in their adulthood with families of their own. Good for you and Don. You are living the dream, in my opinion. Nannie