Rescuing Ambition

By Dave Harvey, Foreword by C.J. Mahaney

Rescuing Ambition

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Rescuing Ambition

By Dave Harvey, Foreword by C.J. Mahaney

Many think of ambition as nothing more than the drive for personal honor or fame. As a result, ambition—the God-implanted drive to improve, produce, develop, and create—is neglected and well on its way to paralysis.

For some, dreams are numbed. For others, there are no dreams; life just happens. And for those who are dreaming, motives are often confused. One thing is certain: ambition needs help.

Dave Harvey is calling for a rescue. He wants to snatch ambition from the heap of failed motivations and put it to work for the glory of God. To understand our ambition, we must understand that we are on a quest for glory. And where we find glory determines the success of our quest.

Has your God-given ambition been starved and sedated for too long? Are you ambitious? It’s time to reach further and dream bigger for the glory of God.


Dave Harvey (DMin, Westminster Theological Seminary) is the teaching pastor at Summit Church in Naples, Florida. Dave has over 25 years of pastoral experience and has traveled nationally and internationally teaching Christians, equipping pastors, and training church planters. He is the executive director of Sojourn Network, founder of, and serves on the board of the Christian Counseling and Educational Foundation (CCEF). Dave is the author of Am I Called?, Rescuing Ambition, and When Sinners Say I Do, as well as a contributing author to Worldliness: Resisting the Seduction of a Fallen World.


“In Rescuing Ambition, Dave Harvey distinguishes ambition for the glory of God, which is good, from ambition for the glory of self, which is bad. But godly ambition doesn’t exist in a vacuum, so Harvey helps us see how it is intertwined with humility, contentment, faith, and above all, the gospel. Dave Harvey is both an experienced pastor and a gifted writer, so you will find this book not only profitable but also hard to put down.”
Jerry Bridges, author, The Pursuit of Holiness

“Thomas Watson said, ‘Selfish ambition is the mother of all schisms.’ But Dave Harvey shows us a better way in Rescuing Ambition. With wit and wisdom, Dave uncovers the truth in scripture to teach how God forms a gospel-driven ambition in us for use in his mission and for his glory. I hope every leader in the church today will read Rescuing Ambition.”
Ed Stetzer, Billy Graham Distinguished Chair for Church, Mission, and Evangelism, Wheaton College

“Dave Harvey thinks well, writes well, tells good stories, and cites people of substance and insight. I have long appreciated Dave’s integrity, wisdom and perspective. Were I not afraid of feeding his ambition for greatness, or my ambition to write a memorable endorsement, I would add that Rescuing Ambition is biblical, honest, witty, and sometimes amusing. I’m happy to recommend this fine book on an important and overlooked subject.”
Randy Alcorn, author, Heaven; If God Is Good; and Hand in Hand

“Whether you’re on Main Street or Wall Street this book has something to say to you. No author has done a better job of helping me understand my heart, my motives, and my Savior. Harvey uses humor, Scripture, and real-life examples to help us balance our dreams and callings, while always reminding us that Jesus is the Christ.”
Josh Deckard, Former Assistant Press Secretary to President Bush

“Ambition is war; a battle between the sin-driven pursuit of autonomy, self-sufficiency, and self-glory and a humble desire that everything you do would reflect the one thing that is excellent in every way, the glory of God. On every page, Harvey alerts us to this war and trains us to be good soldiers.”
Paul David Tripp, President, Paul Tripp Ministries; author, What Did You Expect?

“As the leader of an organization expressly dedicated to seeing the gospel deepen in our own lives as well as expand outward to the nations, I’m grateful for Dave Harvey’s recovery of the idea of ambition. Dave’s book is a powerful, plainspoken, Scripture-saturated reminder that when the gospel is the center of our identity and security, we can be freed from the petty dreams and small-minded motivations that often hamstring ministry. In the gospel, we find the freedom to be truly ambitious.”
Bob Osborne, Executive Director, World Harvest Mission

“From page one, Dave’s writing style gripped me with his humor, humility, and down-to-earth, Bible-saturated style. I don’t think I have ever seen a book on ambition, but I have been trying to provoke men to find some ambition, borrow some, or if they were really ambitious, even steal some! Dave writes to those of us who aren’t ambitious enough to read (much less comprehend) a thick theological treatise, but are interested enough to read the words of someone who understands that we are often content to watch others with ambition as they ride up mountains, compose great music, and attempt the unthinkable—like homeschool three kids. This is not a self-help book that doesn’t really help; it is a wake-up alarm to rouse the good gifts specifically placed within us by God for his own glory.”
Scott Thomas, Founder, Gospel Coach; coauthor, Gospel Coach: Shepherding Leaders to Glorify God

“I didn’t know that my ambition was defective and in need of rescuing until I read this book. Harvey writes with such compelling insight and clarity that you’re left thinking the lack of godly ambition ranks alongside pragmatism and theological flimsiness as ailments afflicting the church today. Yet, at root, this book isn’t about problem-hunting nearly as much as it is about the gospel, salvation, and embracing the ambitious agenda Jesus sets for our lives. Those who want to live with high and glorious purpose for the Savior must read this book. So do those who don’t, and those who never thought about what godly ambition really involves. Rescuing Ambition calls us to live large, bold lives by swiping as much glory for Jesus as possible.”
Thabiti Anyabwile, pastor, Anacostia River Church, Washington, D. C.; author, What Is a Healthy Church Member?

“Dave Harvey teaches us that God wants ambition back in our understanding of godliness and spiritual health. As Christians, we are to be zealous for good works (Titus 2:13)—that is, ambitious for them. We are to be people who dream and do big things for the glory of God and the good of others. Let’s not be content with small dreams cloaked in a guise of humility. This is a critical book for the church today because it helps us recover the spirit of William Carey, who ambitiously said ‘Expect great things from God. Attempt great things for God.’”
Matt Perman, Director of Marketing, Made to Flourish; author, What’s Best Next: How the Gospel Transforms the Way You Get Things Done    

“Dave Harvey has delivered a compelling case for developing God-ward ambition in the lives of men and women alike. This insightful book carries a timely message in our ‘whatever’ culture: we all have ambition, but where it is aimed and how it is used is worth serious consideration. With self-effacing humor, Dave reveals how being wired for glory can either corrupt us or lead us to a divine agenda. Highly recommended!”
Carolyn McCulley, filmmaker; speaker; author, The Measure of Success, Radical Womanhood, and Did I Kiss Marriage Goodbye?

“Only an ambitious person would try to rescue ambition! Only an ambitious person would actually take the time to write a book on the topic. And only a humble person could accomplish the task! There is a vast difference between selfish ambition and godly ambition. If you want to know what sets them apart, read this book and discover the radical difference between self-glory and God’s glory. As in his book on marriage, When Sinners Say “I Do,” you will find Dave writing out of his own failures and growth in grace. Interestingly, ambition can be rescued but you won’t get there without bathing ambition in gospel virtues and life experiences like humility, service, contentment, failure, and community. And you won’t get there without a Redeemer. Dave makes certain that you meet this Redeemer, Jesus, throughout the pages of this book. If you struggle with selfish ambition or lack ambition altogether, this book will help you.”
Timothy S. Lane, Executive Director, The Christian Counseling and Educational Foundation

“Proud people will benefit from reading this book and learning to bend their ambition towards God's will. Those who are falsely humble will benefit even more by growing the godly ambition to pursue him with their whole life.”
Mike Anderson, Managing Director, BAJI

“Dave Harvey isn’t satisfied to live a mediocre life and he isn’t satisfied to see the followers of Jesus live that way either. In his down-to-earth style, Dave takes the concept of ambition from the ‘reject’ pile of Christian vocabulary and reminds us that it is desirable, no, it is a gospel imperative to be ambitious for the right reasons and the right goals. His arguments are not psycho-babble, either, but grounded in scripture, theologically sound, and intensely practical.”
Timothy Z. Witmer, professor of practical theology, Westminster Theological Seminary; pastor, St. Stephen Reformed Church, New Holland, Pennsylvania; author, The Shepherd Leader and The Shepherd Leader at Home

"Dave Harvey brilliantly and accessibly answers the question, ‘Can Christians be humble and ambitious at the same time?’ He explains why and how we can, always rooting his pre- sentation in Scripture. This is a book that has needed to be written. You will not be disappointed.”
Jim Tebbe, Former Vice President of Missions and Director, Urbana Missions Conference, Intervarsity Christian Fellowship


Category: Christian Living
Church Ministry
Format: Paperback
Page Count: 224
ISBN-10: 1-4335-1491-5
ISBN-13: 978-1-4335-1491-3
Size: 5.5 in x 8.5 in
Weight: 9.66 ounces
Published: May 31, 2010