The Restoration of My Ambition

It really doesn’t seem like that long ago, but it was 35 years ago this month that I graduated from Harvard University. The photo here is my trip down “memory lane” . . . Classmates at Dunster House on the banks of the Charles River. Harvard has organized our 35th-anniversary reunion, and it brings back memories of our last gathering 5 years ago. At that reunion, our class spent a good deal of time in workshops hosted by faculty and classmates from around the world. Interestingly, of all the options, the workshop that was far and away most popular was called “The Mortification of My Ambition: What To Do When You’re Not Secretary of State by Age 40”.

Harvard’s always been filled with high achievers, and this workshop captured the dark side of achievement — we have expectations beyond reality; reality humbles us; and then we struggle to reconcile our self worth after “missing the mark” set for us by ourselves, by society, or both. Spiritually, this walks into the hollow promise that our worth is defined by our deeds. That’s how I looked at things 35 years ago, and it is “amazing grace” that “saved a wretch like me.” Today I celebrate the truth that Paul captures in Ephesians 2:8-9: “for it is by grace you have been saved, through faith — and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God — not by works, so that no one can boast.”

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