Holy Ambition (Your Purpose)

A few weeks ago I gave a talk to the McNairs and the title of the talk was “Your Purpose: Next Steps.” The title was partially inspired by The Purpose Driven Life, but the content of the talk was based on a great book that I read called Holy Ambition. Since I was giving the talk at a university, I didn’t talk much about the holy part, but I will add a few extra things here.

Here is the content of the talk: Your Purpose: Next Steps

What is your purpose? You are about to go to grad school and several of you know that I’m a proponent of graduate education – especially the REMs (Ronald E. McNair classes) 12, 13, & 14 since I’ve had most of you in a class or lecture.

But as you go to graduate school – as you pursue your goals, what is your purpose? Certainly you want to make a decent salary, take care of present/future families, achieve material goals. Of course you want to get the Ph.D. – to be the 1st in your family to achieve such a goal, to be a role model for your family, for your community.

What is your purpose? Purpose is beyond passion – Passion allows you to do what you WANT to do. Purpose allows you to do what you are MEANT to do.

I encourage you to reflect on the reasons why you’re pursuing your particular line of research. what is the larger purpose – beyond just getting the Ph.D.? How is your work going to affect society?

I just finished read a book by Chip Ingram on AMBITION, and I wanted to share some thoughts with you as you reflect on your purpose.

Ingram reflects on 6 topics that lead to ambition and greater purpose, I’ll mention 5.

A dislocated shoulder is a place where something that is normally functioning is suddenly out of place, injured, … pained due to a circumstance.
Is there a part of your research that your heart is tied to because there is a problem where you can offer a solution?

I skipped this part because I couldn’t think of a way to express it and keep to “the rules” of separation of church and state. But for those of you reading (since there are no such rules here), the broken spirit means that you put pride aside (James 4:6 “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”) From the book, Holy Ambition, pg. 73,
A broken spirit begins with a high view of God; a holy view of God. Then, a broken spirit leads us to an accurate view of ourselves.

Pg. 76:
“…Yet until we get a high view of God and an accurate view of ourselves, Jesus will never mean that much to us. Until we see the extent of our need, we can never appreciate the significance of our Saviour. Jesus covers and bridges the distance between a holy God and sinful man. That’s you and that’s me. He died on the cross to pay for your sin and mine. He loves us. When we come even as believers with a broken spirit, He reminds us that He wants to lift us up. God says of our sins and failures, ‘you’ve owned them. You’ve confessed them. I will forgive you and cleanse you. I will set you up and I will use you, even you.'”

Back to the rest of the speech …

As you seek your purpose, as you move forward, remember your faith. When you feel like the solution is beyond your ability to handle it, remember your faith. You don’t have to throw it away because you’re in grad school.

Have one! Develop one! Consider the steps that it will take to achieve your purpose.

Be committed to working on a problem, seeing it through, regardless of the hardships or difficulties; beyond people who may not support you, beyond lack of motivation, and beyond a new environment.

You must have courage to pursue this goal. You’ve already shown that you’re on the path. You’re graduating, you’re already pursuing research!

So take the next step, Be BOLD, Have SURE footing, and Walk in your purpose.

(Speech given Monday May 14, 2007, UMBC)

Chip Ingram’s podcasts on Holy Ambition are found here:
The book can be found at bookstores and online stores
(e.g. Amazon, Barnes & Noble, etc.)

I met Chip Ingram in Atlanta, and I really like the way he breaks things down. Bible study in a way that is clear and understandable, and more importantly, livable. You can also listen on WAVA, 105.1, (Wash. D.C.), at 10 a.m. weekdays, or online anytime:

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3 replies »

  1. This is very inspiring. Thank you so much, Dr. Tull. Looks like I have another book I need to add to my reading list – Oops, my BPR list 

    I found “EXPERIENCE A BROKEN SPIRIT” part particular interesting in this frame work. To put it into “secular” sense, one may point to the definition of “level 5 leaders” as described in Jim Collin’s popular book “Good to Great.”

    Collins wrote the following: ( ) are mine 2 cents.

    Level 5 leaders channel their ego needs away from themselves and into the larger goal of building a great company (their God-given purpose). It is not that level 5 leaders have no ego or self-interest. Indeed, they are incredibly ambitious – but their ambition is first and foremost for the institution (the God-given vision for the purpose), not themselves.

    There is perhaps no more corrosive trend to the health of our organizations than the rise of the celebrity CEO, the rock-star leader whose deepest ambition is first and foremost self-centric.

    (The text came from this page)


  2. Thank you for that YC! I have a tape set of Good to Great, but I need to get the book. I really like that piece about the level 5 leader! Thank you for sharing!


  3. Uplifting post, Dr. Tull. I am not sure what I am going to do after my postoc training ends. Sometimes I feel that I am called to teach . .. and I’ve always felt that teaching and research go hand in hand . ..


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