I knew the time would come when I would rate a book five out of five stars. I am most happy – or ambitious – to award it to Dave Harvey’s, Rescuing Ambition.
Harvey, responsible for church planting and church care with Sovereign Grace Ministries, writes skillfully and pastorally. The last chapter in Harvey’s book entitled “Ambition Paid Forward” accurately describes Harvey’s own desire for writing this book. Harvey puts it this way: success = succession. Godly ambition must always extend to the next generation. By writing this book, Harvey has done just that. Harvey, by clarifying the need for godly ambition in the church, passes a torch to light the fire and guide the way for a next generation of kingdom-advancing pastors to lead.
The premise of the book is stated well by C.J. Mahaney in the Foreword: everyone is ambitious for something or someone. The question is what will you be ambitious for? Ultimately, Harvey notes, you’re going to be ambitious for what is of true value to you. So what do you prize? For many of us, we’ve been or are currently on a troubling journey of selfish ambition in which we prize our lives, leadership roles and responsibilities, and notoriety. We live as if we’re still trying to earn approval. Harvey makes it clear though: we no longer live for approval; rather, we live from approval. We are rescued by the saving grace of Jesus, which now sets us on course to live liberated from selfish ambition.
It’s important to note, as Harvey observes, that our acceptance and salvation by God is not the end of our ambition; rather it lights a renewed ambition in our hearts to participate in the kingdom’s advancement. And because we have been saved, we no longer need to protect our lives by trying to play it safe. Because of Christ’s obedience we can pursue great things in God for His Glory; we can “reach further and dream bigger for the glory of God.”
The only hiccup I encountered in Harvey’s book was the chapter, “Ambition’s Failure.” The chapter’s subtitle accurately sums up Harvey’s main point: “Where is God when our dreams lead to defeat?” I understood Harvey’s main point, but I was frustrated that Harvey only tracked through one real-life example (the life of David Brainerd). In fact, he included nearly two-three pages of quotes from Edwards (writing about Brainerd) or Brainerd (from his journals) in the chapter. Because Harvey only focused on one example of this, I didn’t feel he hit his point home. While the chapter did include some powerful one-liner’s it was also repetitive. It by no means needed to be 16 pages long.
Overall, Harvey’s book is a much needed voice to a subject that needs true rescuing. I couldn’t be more thankful for such a timely work!
This book will become apart of my annual leadership re-reads. I’m sure it will do the same for you.