For many men that which arouses their ambitions is the call of a great opportunity or responsibility. Note the change in General Grant’s life with the outbreak of the Civil War. The unambitious tanner becomes the untiring, rigid, unconquerable soldier. Striking illustrations of this fact are many men, whose character, as well as conduct after they have been called to positions of political or judicial trust, is in marked contrast to their previous record. A corrupt lawyer has sometimes become an upright judge. The pride of office, the traditions of the bench have sustained him. It is the privilege and duty of each man, by thoughtful deliberation and study to shape and develop his own individual ambitions that they may conform to the highest ideals and thus guide him to the noblest and most worthy achievement. Of what value to a man is biography in forming his ambitions? Mention some biographies that you consider of the greatest help. In what ways are the life and teachings of Jesus of practical service in developing the ambitions of a man to-day?
Questions for Further Consideration.
Is it possible for a man without ambition to develop or to achieve anything really significant?
In your judgment, what percentage of the men in your community really think out and carefully plan their lives? What proportion drift or take the way shown them by others?
Some people consider mental or moral inertia the chief force that sustains the corrupt political boss. Is this true?
What proportion of the voters in your voting district actually study and appreciate the issues in each election?
What proportion of church members drift into their church membership, and what proportion join only after a careful study of the relative merits of the different churches?
What are the chief ambitions that stir men to action?
What was Jesus’ ambition? Paul’s? Florence Nightingale’s? Abraham Lincoln’s? Peter Cooper’s? Garibaldi’s? Dwight L. Moody’s? Was there a common element in the ambition of each of these leaders of men?
Is the realization of the ambition to serve one’s fellow-men limited to those who possess unique powers or opportunities?
Subjects for Further Study.
(1) The Law of Inheritance among the Early Semites. Hastings, Diet. Bib. II, 470-473; Kent, Student’s O. T., III; Johns, Bab. and Assyr. Laws, Contracts and Letters, 161-167.
(2) The Arameans. Hastings, Dict. Bible I, 138-139; Encyc. Bib. I, 276-280; Peters, Early Heb. Story, 45-47, 115-116; 133-134; Maspero, Struggle of the Nations, 126.
(3) The Psychological Connection between Ambition, Habits, Character and Public Life. Prin. of Politics Ch. II and III. James, Talks to Teachers Ch. II.