THE DEVELOPMENT OF RIGHT AMBITIONS.
The desire to spare one’s energies is natural to man. To gain wealth with the least expenditure of energy is said to be the chief economic motive. Most men are by nature lazy. This law of inertia applies not only in the physical world, but also in the intellectual, moral and spiritual fields. The great majority of men follow the line of least resistance. In politics and morals they accept the standards of their associates. Unconsciously they join the great army of the drifters, or followers, who preserve the traditions of the past, but contribute little to the future progress of the race. To deliver man from the control of his natural inertia he must be touched by some strong compelling power. Ambition is one great force that enables most men to overcome this inertia. The influences, therefore, which kindle ambition are among the most important which enter the life of man.
In the Orient the mother stands in especially close relation to the son. How far was Jacob’s desire to surpass his brother inspired by his mother? Many of the world’s greatest leaders trace the impulse which has led them to achieve directly to their parents and especially to their mothers. The mother of Charles and John Wesley is but one of the many mothers to whom the human race owes an inestimable debt. Of all the heritages which parents can leave their children none is greater than a worthy ambition. Sometimes it is the personality of a great teacher which inspires the youthful ambition and directs it in lines of worthy achievement. How much of England’s greatness may be traced to the quiet influence of Arnold of Rugby! Consider the unparalleled influence of Socrates, Plato, Aristotle—all primarily teachers.
The true pastor with the spirit of a prophet is often able to guide those with whom he comes into intimate contact to great fields of service. In encouraging Sophia Smith to found Smith College that quiet New England pastor, the Reverend John M. Greene, won a high place among those in America who first appreciated the importance of education of woman. Equally great opportunities may lie before every pastor and teacher and citizen. Frequently it is the contact through literature or in life with men or women who have done heroic deeds or have won success in the face of great obstacles that kindles the youthful ambition and stirs the latent motives which in turn develop strong and noble characters. Therein lies the perennial value of the Biblical narratives.