Purposeful Faith

The Wages of Ambition: The Real Cost of Selling-out


I sold out.

Why? I don’t know, but what I do know is that sometimes it feels better to blame others…

Business school said if you wanted to succeed you needed to work for this type of company.

My parents said if you want to survive you need to do this kind of work.

The world said if you want to be recognized you better be rich and powerful.

So, while my heart said counseling, my ambition said business. I nodded and then obeyed…

And so it was. I scoured online for the best companies. I researched their in’s and outs. I learned the details of their roles. I filled out application after application. I was a mad-woman on a mission who knew her destination – and neither potholes, nor roadkill, nor old dreams were going to stop me.

I became slightly crazed…

I remember the interview like it was yesterday. Two suited-folk leaned in; they grilled me. Each question they lobbed was meant to press me, to trip me up, but I didn’t buckle. Instead I tightened my every muscle, made eye contact and said, “This has always been my dream job.”

My replies rolled off like balls on a tee. I knew their mission like it was my first name. I knew their organizational culture as if I had grown up in it.

Their smiles were big and their body language said it all – I was in; I was the perfect candidate. I was a success.

Kind of…

Did I speak truth? Not at all. 

Did it matter? Not so much.

One on a mission to fruition doesn’t care so much about right intentions.

One laser-driven, can’t often see where God wants them to drive.

I got the job.
I sold out.

Like Judas (Mk 14:10), the man who betrayed Jesus with a kiss.

We know him, right? And, we don’t have much sympathy for his likes. Instead, we stand a little taller saying, “I would never be like him. I would never sell Jesus out for ______ (money, ambition, dreams, success, hopes, expectations, results, health, finances, etc.).”

But, would we?

Do we?

Maybe Judas is a lot more like you and me than we think:

Maybe others told him what mattered – and he listened.

Maybe he didn’t think so much about Jesus – as he did his end goal.

Maybe the world spoke that real power was getting in with “powerful types”.

What are you chasing after, believing that it is going to deliver you to happiness?

If Christ isn’t in it, you can be sure  joy and peace won’t be in it either.

The outcome is universal:

Judas/Destination Seekers say, “I sinned. I handed over (innocence) to be killed.”

The world says: “We don’t care! That’s a problem for you, not us.” (Mt 27:3-5)

Just as Judas ended up a dead man, hung by his own transgression, so do we.

What happened with me? My ambition delivered the fruit of ambition: stress, anxiety and pain. I left this job not too long after I started.

Why do I say all this? This post isn’t meant to depress you, it is meant to resurrect you – to your unique calling of God. It is meant to break your pre-established molds and frames and pre-established standards. It is meant to awaken you to God’s unique and pointed call for your life. It is meant to help you listen to and then follow God, so that you can walk right up to his abundant life. It is meant to help you see beyond what is seen – and into the unseen. It is meant to help you do the one thing Judas’ didn’t do – say, “I am sorry God, your way is really the only way.”

It is meant to help you consider, “What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul?” (Mk 8:36)

Nothing is worth selling out Jesus. It’s meant to remind us of that.

Prayer for Clear Vision
Lord, we want you. We mess up. We get our eyes thinking we need big apples to bite from. They never please. Help us to remember how sour they taste and how rotten they feel after we get a good chunk out of them. Help us to taste and see that you alone are good. You alone are worthy. Only your plans bring us through to our best plans. You have the greatest gifts in store for us. We don’t want to settle for average and stress-filled, while you have abundant and peace-filled. Grant us the fullness of peace in our wait and calm through our storms so we can stick with you. Forgive us. We need you. Amen.

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Kelly, a fun-loving, active and spunky mom of two rambunctious toddlers, spends her days pushing swings, changing diapers and pursuing the Lord with all her heart. Called a "Cheerleader of Faith", Kelly's greatest desire is to help women live passionately, purposefully and unencumbered for the Lord.

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32 CommentsLeave a comment

  • When I was getting my degree, I went for computer science because I thought I would make the most money on that path. After graduation, I hated working as a programmer. I knew when I was a child I loved writing, but I didn’t think I could make money in it. I left my high paying job to stay home with my kids and eventually started writing (for free). Now I’m happier than ever and know I’m headed where God wants me. I can so relate to this, Kelly! Thanks for the reminder :).

  • Thanks for reminding us again to look to Jesus and His priorities FIRST. Reminds me of the verse in Matthew: Seek first His kingdom and his righteousness and all these things (your needs!) will be added to you.

    Blessings on your week, Kelly.

  • Jesus first, others second, and ourselves third. It reminds me that our thought should always be “I am third”. Our focus should be Jesus because He will lead the way. Jesus calls us to serve and love others and only then should we look to ourselves. Sounds easy but the world has a strong pull on us and it has its priorities all messed up. The world says you are first and you should go after what you want no matter the cost. Mixed up priorities is what has our world spinning out of control. Your reminder today brings us back to what is important. Jesus is all we need.

  • Thank you for hosting! Thanks for sharing your thoughts! I needed the reminder and pep talk today!

  • I’m reminded that my path may not look like the “way of success” — and even other believers may not affirm my choices — but they have not heard God’s plan for me. It takes courage to run the race of faith.

  • Nothing is worth selling out Jesus… your post is jam-packed with heart-truths we sometimes are slow to consider. I’m so grateful for this today, as I begin to move and step only to His tune, and not mine!!! xxoo

  • Oh how I remember all those interviews of saying the answers I knew they wanted to hear. “Where do you see yourself in five years?” I actually wanted to say, “I can’t believe you’re still asking that question! But to answer it, I’d prefer to see myself not doing any of this baloney.” Of course, I came up with an equally overused answer.

    As far as Judas…I think he’s gotten a bad rap. We tend to forget that Jesus CHOSE Judas to be one of his twelve. He saw something in Judas, and I think that Judas had a heart to follow after Him…his greed just got the better of him, and he sadly didn’t think that was forgiveable. Every one of those disciples had a weakness, but we throw Judas under the bus because he was the one who betrayed our Lord. But in reality, his role was key for our salvation.

    Well done, Kelly. Great post.

  • Thanks for this encouragement, Kelly. The fruit of ambition is a sour, yet so often we bite into it anyway. Good to be reminded that no path we could carve out for ourselves is worth trading His way for us. Thanks for hosting the linkup. ((blessings))

  • With temptation lingering and voices chiming their best – not necessarily God’s – it’s easy to sell out. We live in a world that’s increasingly becoming a “sold out” world. Good, everyday, applicable read, Kelly. So many of us have been in Judas shoes. It’s time for a shoe change. Oh Jesus, please fit our feet well.

  • Oh, Kelly! This reminds me of the more-than-once things I have done in my life where I sold out to the world…where I caved in to things that I hoped would make me happy…including a first marriage that was a disaster! I was not Christ’s yet nor would be until just 23 years ago. But I do not want to sell out again. I pray not. Thank you for this analogy and the reality of life in the world.

  • This is sooooo good! I love how you convicted yourself with the truth!!! And yes, how easy we can lose our souls in wordly ways!!

  • Kelly, thanks for your transparency. It is so easy to sell out—if not in our occupations, in other ways we choose to live our lives. It’s so easy to follow what others say is best for us and not seek out what God says is best for us.

    Thank you so much for the reminder of the freedom and the peace that come when we follow the calling God’s placed on our hearts. 🙂

  • There is so much pressure in society today to have the monetary possessions to show success, but ultimately much of this comes with doing things we would rather not do. Thank you for this encouragement and reminder today to focus on Jesus and staying true to ourselves.

  • I had to come to that realization that I am going to let God be my source. To seek Him first and foremost. This has allowed me to feel less stressed and joyful.

  • Kelly,
    Thank you.
    I know this feeling. It’s awful. To know what I’m supposed to do but not have the guts to go for it…to obey…to follow. Instead, all of the voices that pushed and pulled won. It’s taken me years to sift through it all and get back to what God planted in me to grow. This was specifically inspirational and encouraging for me, today. Thank you so much.
    Happy Tuesday!

  • You know it’s funny, if we look to where our passions lie (what we enjoy doing), we can usually line up our spiritual gifts there as well. A great reminder to look to God first in this critical area of our lives – thanks, Kelly!

  • This is powerful, Kelly. This crazy messed up world tries to pull us away from humility and service toward ambiton and greed every day, but God has called us to die to self. It’s amazing how when we surrender it all to Him we finally find true life and peace.

  • Wow, your prayer really aligned with what God has put on my heart this week. How can I re-invigorate my walk with Him at mid-year? What goals and resolutions related to my spiritual life have I succeeded in. When we align our planning with the central truths involved in walking closer with Him, our lives become richer and fuller. Thanks for sharing.

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