Summary: All other ambition but glorifying God is small and not worth anything.


Jesus taught James and John a vital lesson - our true ambition in this life is to please God by serving Him and others. But the disciples took time to get the message!


(a) Reasons For False Ambition - The Tower Building Mentality.

(i) Self Centred Pride - Compare Mark 10:35 with James 4:3.

This comes from having strife in the heart, envious of

others - see Phil 1:16 and Phil 2:3 .

(ii) Thinking The Way The World Thinks -How were James and John doing this?

(iii) Provoked To Do So By Parents or Peers (See Matt 10:35 for who was behind James and John’s request.

(b) Results Of False Ambition -

(i) Strife and Contention - See Mark 10:41. Before and after this incident the Disciples had many arguments about who was the greatest (eg. Mark 9:34) which caused strife.

Infact the greek word translated as ’Selfish Ambition’ in Phil 1:16;2:3 and Romans 2:8 is ’Eritheia’ which means ’Contention or Strife’ and comes from the root ’Erethizo’ which means ’to provoke (to anger)’.

(ii) Disunity and Division - See Mark 9:38-39.

All this hinders God’s desire for us - to reach a dying world!

(c) Removing False Ambition - Aiming For God’s Ambitions.

The solution was that ’Jesus called them to Himself’ (Mark 10:42). We are not to follow the world’s way, but follow Jesus’ way - the way of the Cross - the way of servanthood. All else is small ambition!

(i) 2 Cor 5:9 - Our ambition should be to PLEASE GOD.

(ii) 1 Thess 4:9-12 - This will be outworked in us UPGRADING OUR LOVE.

(iii) Romans 15:20- Paul’s aim (ambition) must be ours - reaching the unreached.


The word for ’aim’ ( godly ambition) here is ’Philotimeomai’ - ’to be fond of honour’ - we are to seek the honour and glory of God in all we do! This means going the way of a servant. Finally James and John did just that.


(1) How do James and John reveal their ambition was not godly ? What was the result ? Does this happen among Chrsitians today ? Why ?

(2) How can you have ambitions that you think are fine but are against God’s will ? Give examples of such ambitions even among Christians.

(3) Talk about false ambitions you have had or are having - suggest practical ways of breaking free from these and going God’s way. This should lead into a time of prayer for each other.

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