Last week I introduced the question as to which might be the most essential spiritual qualities for a disciple. My suggestion was these: humble, hungry and smart.
The book, “The ideal team player: how to recognise and cultivate the three essential virtues” by Patrick Lencioni, provides a fascinating insight into the significance of these three qualities in a secular situation. However, the spiritual applications seem obvious.
We tackled humility last time. Today we will look at the second of these qualities.
What does it mean to be spiritually hungry? And how does it affect our prayer-life? Jesus addressed this in the Sermon on the Mount:
“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.” (Matthew 5:6 NIV11)
According to him, being hungry is healthy. It takes us in a good direction. A hunger for righteousness implies a desire to connect with the source of that righteousness. That sounds a lot like spiritual ambition.
What’s the difference between selfish ambition (Galatians 5:20; Philippians 1:17; 2:3; James 3:14, 16) and spiritual ambition? It has to do with benefitting other people.
For example, the ambition of the Apostle Paul was directly connected to people hearing the gospel:
“It has always been my ambition to preach the gospel where Christ was not known, so that I would not be building on someone else’s foundation.” (Romans 15:20 NIV11)
That is perfectly good and fine, but what we do when we don’t have the hunger?
Here’s a quote from the book in the section dealing with how to help people with their hunger:
“The first and most important part of helping that person become hungry is to find a way to connect her to the importance of the work being done. Until this is accomplished, a manager cannot expect much change.”
Lencioni, Patrick M.. The Ideal Team Player: How to Recognize and Cultivate The Three Essential Virtues (p. 202). Wiley. Kindle Edition.
If we are going to refresh our hunger, we must first connect with the significance of our relationship with God. How can we do this? Here are three suggestions.
1. Pray for Hunger
I don’t like being hungry. But I have to say that I have a clearer mind when my stomach isn’t full. Ask God to create a healthy dissatisfaction in your soul. It may not be comfortable. But it will ultimately be satisfying.
2. Pray to Remember
God has acted in the past when you were hungry. Can you recall times of spiritual hunger? The situations that led you to seek God. The circumstances that opened your heart to repentance. Pray about them, and ask God to recreate the same spiritual hunger in you today.
Make sure you take communion in a meaningful way. The Lord’s supper is your weekly opportunity to remember and refresh your spiritual ambition.
3. Pray for Vision
It is when we are stretched beyond our resources that we feel the hunger. When God gives us vision we recognise our poverty, and reach out to him. It is in that reaching that we find his supply. It is in that stretching that we find his support. Can you pray for a faithful vision?
Trying praying these three prayers this week. Pray to be hungry, pray to remember, and pray for vision. The prayers remind me of the heart and life of the Apostle Paul. his spiritual ambition has always been an upward call to me. While I am not Paul, I know I will be closer to God if I imitate the faith of that great Christian.
We will look at smart next time.
What do you think is the best way to develop spiritual ambition? How do you get it back when you’ve lost it? How does this affect your prayer life?
Please leave a comment here so that we can all learn from one another. We learn best when we learn in community.
I hope you have a wonderful week of fulfilling quiet times.
God bless, Malcolm