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Ambition Crippler by Pastor Rich Doebler

 "Lord, please! Send someone else." (Exodus 4:13)

The first step on the road to success begins inside our heads. Until we grapple with our past failures and conquer our sense of inadequacy, we will never be able to handle success. But once we get the negative past out of our heads, we're able to journey toward a meaningful, fulfilling life.

Many typical motivational speeches—even sermons—skip this important mental step. But the negative, dream-crushing defeats in our past can drown out positive, faith-building talk. Our disappointments and failures can corrode our dreams for the future. Sure, we want to make a difference with our lives. But before we can develop a healthy ambition and a passion for God's purpose for us, before we can set our sights on God-honoring, God-pleasing success, we've got to deal with the baggage of our humanity.

When Moses was young, he made a huge mistake. He tried to take hold of his destiny and accomplish something great for God. But his timing and his methods were off, and he failed miserably. With a dead Egyptian buried in the sand and a price on Moses' head, he retreated to the backside of the desert. As Moses watched the sheep and replayed his mistakes in his head for forty years, he allowed his dreams to wither away.

Still carrying the shame and disgrace of his past, Moses wasn't ready to volunteer when God called him at the burning bush. He had no more ambition to do anything great for God—no passion for significant success. In fact, as God urged Moses to see the possibilities, Moses protested repeatedly.

"Who am I?" he asked (Exod. 3:11). He had lost the advantage of being raised in Pharaoh's household. Now he was merely an unknown, insignificant shepherd.

"What should I tell them?" he asked (v. 13). Moses couldn't imagine himself back in Pharaoh's courts, much less debating successfully with the most powerful leader in his world.

But in spite of his protests, feelings of inadequacy, and past failures, this insignificant, hypercautious, stuttering shepherd without a message finally bowed to the call and will of God. And with God's help, Moses became a leader for all time.

By Richard Doebler

Reprinted by permission from Leadership Devotions: Cultivating a Leader's Heart (Christianity Today International: 2001).