Blind Ambition

THE SCENE IS ALMOST SPOOKY: A TALL, UNFINISHED tower looming solitarily on a dusty plain. Its base is wide and strong but covered with weeds. Large stones originally intended for use in the tower lie forsaken on the ground. Buckets, hammers, and pulleys—all lie abandoned. The silhouette cast by the structure is lean and lonely.
Not too long ago, this tower was buzzing with activity. A bystander would have been impressed with the smooth-running construction of the world’s first skyscraper. One group of workers stirred freshly made mortar. Another team pulled bricks out of the oven. A third group carried the bricks to the construction site while a fourth shouldered the load up a winding path to the top of the tower where it was firmly set in place.
It was a human anthill. Each worker knew his job and did it well.
Their dream was a tower. A tower that would be taller than anyone had ever dreamed. A tower that would punch through the clouds and scratch the heavens. And what was the purpose of the tower? To glorify God? No. To try to find God? No. To call people to look upward to God? Try again. To provide a heavenly haven of prayer? Still wrong.
The purpose of the work caused its eventual abortion. The method was right. The plan was effective. But the motive was wrong. Dead wrong. Read these minutes from the “Tower Planning Committee Meeting” and see what I mean:
“Come, let us build ourselves a city, and a tower with its top in the heavens, and [watch out] let us make a name for ourselves.”
Why was the tower being built? Selfishness. Pure, 100 percent selfishness. The bricks were made of inflated egos and the mortar was made of pride. Men were giving sweat and blood for a pillar. Why? So that somebody’s name could be remembered.
We have a name for that: blind ambition. Success at all costs. Becoming a legend in one’s own time. Climbing the ladder to the top. King of the mountain. Top of the heap. “I did it my way.”
We make heroes out of people who are ambitious. We hold them up as models for our kids and put their pictures on the covers of our magazines.
And rightly so. This world would be in sad shape without people who dream of touching the heavens. Ambition is that grit in the soul which creates disenchantment with the ordinary and puts the dare into dreams.
But left unchecked it becomes an insatiable addiction to power and prestige; a roaring hunger for achievement that devours people as a lion devours an animal, leaving behind only the skeletal remains of relationships.
The classic examples of nearsighted tower builders come to mind quickly. You’ll recognize them, perhaps too well.
The husband who feeds his career with twelve-hour days, flight schedules, and apologies for being gone so much. “But it’s just a matter of time, and I’ll get my feet on the ground.”
The social-conscious mother of three who never misses a chance to serve on a committee or attend a luncheon. “It’s all for a good cause,” she fools herself.
“I’ll only need to do it this once,” justifies the salesman as he lies about his product. Anything to get to the top of the tower.
Blind ambition. Distorted values.
The result? Rootless lives bouncing like tumbleweeds through ghost towns. Abandoned dreams. Crumbling homes. Windswept futures. All with one thing in common: a half-finished tower that stands as a stirring epitaph to those who follow.
God won’t tolerate it. He didn’t then and he won’t now. He took the “Climb to Heaven Campaign” into his hands. With one sweep he painted the tower gray with confusion and sent workers babbling in all directions. He took man’s greatest achievement and blew it into the winds like a child blows a dandelion.
Are you building any towers? Examine your motives. And remember the statement imprinted on the base of the windswept Tower of Babel: Blind ambition is a giant step away from God and one step closer to catastrophe.

Max Lucado

Published by Intentional Faith

Devoted to a Faith that Thinks

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