According to Luke 16:13 (ESV):

No servant can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.

It seems to me that God gave us the desire to pursue certain things for a reason to begin with, so being successful and enjoying your career isn't necessarily a sin in and of itself. Is this the correct attitude?

How can a Christian keep God in the center of his or her life and properly enjoy worldly ambitions (such as a successful career)? Is there anything wrong with being focused on your career?

  • 3
    This is a pretty tough question...don't forget about the verse about "it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven."
    – leeand00
    Aug 31 '11 at 4:56
  • Seems to me there's alot of confusion concerning this one... despite selected answer.
    – leeand00
    Aug 31 '11 at 5:00
  • You may want to read "In His Steps", by Charles Sheldon, and see how some people would have dealt with being ambitious and being a Christian. Oct 12 '11 at 22:34

Charles Stanley said in his book Success God’s Way:

In good times and bad times, on mediocre days and exhilarating days, in periods of joy and periods of heavy toil, our stance before the Lord must be, 'Heavenly Father, you’re in charge. I have no success other than what You help me achieve. I trust You to order my steps.'

I believe that this is the true attitude we need to seek.

We need to focus our hearts and minds on God and just do our best here in this life to glorify him. WE can see this in 1 Cor 10:31 (NIV)

So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.

Having said that, God does reward those who love him and seek him earnestly, per Proverbs 28:20 (NIV)

A faithful person will be richly blessed, but one eager to get rich will not go unpunished.

However, we have to be careful not to focus on the treasures here on Earth, per Matt 6:20 (NIV)

But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.

Ultimately, we need do the work that God has given us to do here on Earth and focus our hearts and minds on him.

That will lead to true success without putting ambition as a "second master".


It's important to maintain an eternal perspective. Enjoy your career, sure, but keep in mind that your career is over once you're dead, but eternity lasts forever. As long as you keep your priorities straight and you're willing to give up your career if God's plan calls for you to do something different, you'll probably be all right.

Remember to keep Luke 18: 29-30 in mind:

29 And he said unto them, Verily I say unto you, There is no man that hath left house, or parents, or brethren, or wife, or children, for the kingdom of God's sake,

30 Who shall not receive manifold more in this present time, and in the world to come life everlasting.


Proverbs is full of verses about how to become wealthy, such as

Proverbs 10:4 (NIV)

4 Lazy hands make for poverty, but diligent hands bring wealth.

But I think the focus is NOT on worldly ambitions, but on your character in how you achieve that wealth.

What God doesn't want is for that to drive your focus. If you are too focused on your career, you lose sight of what is really important (eg God, family, people around you)

However, James does warn us against selfish-ambition:

James 3:13-15 (NIV)

13 Who is wise and understanding among you? Let them show it by their good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom. 14 But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth. 15 Such “wisdom” does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic.


There are some other great answers but I want to throw in Philippians 2:3 (NIV).

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves,

I think this distinction of selfish ambition and of vanity are important ones. Other translations phrase it:

  • strife or vainglory
  • conceit and empty arrogance
  • rivalry or conceit
  • selfishness or empty conceit

When these are taken in context with some of the other answers, it seems clear to me that ambition is not bad in itself. When the goal of an action is to raise up oneself above God or above others, that action becomes sinful.


Your question of being successful and enjoying your career being a sin or not depends on where your heart is. I find that whatever job I am currently doing, I do my best at for a few reason's. 1) by doing my best will make the company look better 2) Taking pride in the work I present keeps customers happy 3) Happy customers refer others to company's they like 4) More customers means no employee cut backs. No matter if I'm at work, home, with friends, or in public, I always give God the credit to my success. I have a lot of people come to me for guidance and advice or sometimes to just vent. I've had people say to me that I have helped them heal. My response to them is always, "I didn't heal you, God did. I only carried the message from God that you needed to hear in order to make that change. Mathew, Mark, Luke, and John are important Chapters in the Bible because it show's us exactly how to live our lives as children of God. God sent his son Jesus to be a living, breathing, walking example of how we are to live our lives like. Who would better know God the Father's expectations than Jesus Christ? If it was important to God the Father then Jesus mentions it in his teachings. These four disciples walked, talked, and lived with Jesus. Jesus's job was to teach us how to live pure lives. He was successful and had many followers. He enjoyed engaging with people of all walks of life. There were parts of what he had to do that he wasn't looking forward to but was willing to do it anyway. He didn't limit his audience or who he spent time with to only Christians. He spent his time with thieves, prostitutes, people that were greedy, etc... Take pride in your work cause it is a visual presentation of your portfolio and job qualities. Always give thanks and credit to God the Father. It's possible your path in life lead you there to cross paths with someone that is in need. God placed you in that situation to help guide someone back on to the right path. People take notice when a person walks the way Jesus demonstrated to us. Jesus never said work hard for your employers but don't enjoy your career. What if your a preacher? You shouldn't enjoy bringing a new child to God and baptizing them? There isn't a better time to be rejoicing than that! What if your a guidance counselor, police officer, fire fighter, teacher, and the list goes on. By all means, enjoy and be happy for everything in your life. Just don't forget to thank the Lord for all that you have!


you have to becareful what you want to be ambitious in. satan wants us to be ambitious as much as God does why he wants us to put our minds off from doing Gods work. So we as Christians we need to be careful. Always follow the spirit in all things.


God tells us that if we keep our eyes on Him, He will us everything we need. He made Solomon the richest man on earth just because Solomon chose wisdom (of which the root is the knowledge of God) over riches.

Therefore, we should not be ambitious. But only because we don't need to be. In my personal life, I've moved from being a minimum wage earner (that's African-style minimum wage, BTW) to being an senior software developer without the benefit of a tertiary education. And I owe it all to the fact that God has made things go my way because I strive to put Him first in everything I do.

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