Select Page

In my 20s and 30s, I was a highly ambitious person. At the end of my final teaching prac, I asked my supervisor, “How many years should I teach English before I apply for a leadership role?” She suggested five years would be a nice amount of time to hone my classroom skills before I sought to add any challenges. At the end of my second year of teaching, I became Head of Year Eleven. 

In my early 30s, my new ambition was to become a preacher. T’was a curious goal for a woman who had spent her adult life in a church where women were not allowed to do that. To become a better preacher, I took as many guest spots as I could. I spent hours and hours researching, writing, and practicing my sermons in front of Nicky’s life-sized inflatable Nic Natanui, and I drove for hours to speak to little groups of people in their Sunday best. 

In those years, I set a lot of Big Hairy Audacious Goals. My preaching goal was that one day I would have enough wisdom and stage presence to be invited to speak at Baptist Churches of WA’s ‘Fresh Conference’, which, in my opinion, was the biggest Christian event going. I figured that if I was good enough at preaching, word would eventually reach Pastor and conference host, Karen Wilson, and she’d invite me to fill one of the slots in the day-long run sheet. 

Funny thing; I eventually took on the role that Karen held at Baptist Churches and it became my job to organise and host Fresh Conference. But then it seemed a hollow achievement to add myself to the speaker list so I never did.

In my 40s it would appear that I have lost all sense of ambition. I can’t think of anything I’d like to be or do, no stages I’d like to pass or stand on, and no roles I’m aspiring to. 


A year ago, standing with my mum at the foot of Riverview Church’s stage, I told her that I didn’t think I had a role in ministry anymore.

With a tone that conveyed confusion and wonder, but not disapproval, she asked, “What happened?”

At the time, I thought she was asking, “how did you go from being so driven, so goal-smashing, so hard-working, to being so… directionless… jobless… displaced?” Later I wondered if the question had been aimed at God. Had he withdrawn his favour from me… and, if yes… why? 

I don’t think God did anything like that. Nine out of the ten people who read this blog will know that life just got intense for a while. The kids were sick. It was a lot. There was no time for career goals, just for surviving. 

That time has mostly passed now. We are all beginning to recover. School attendance is improving, doctors appointments are not as frequent, peace and normalcy and energy are coming back. 

But what hasn’t come back is drive. Or goals, or plans, or striving.

Motivation and goal setting is good. Paul tells followers of Jesus to “live lives worthy of the calling…” 

But I do not miss striving. 

I do want to love God and serve others, with my heart, soul, and strength, but it does feel so much easier to do it with a less strategic mindset, and a greater sense that God will light the path just a little bit in front of me; just enough to see where to go next, with little worry about the ultimate destination. 

Last year I took a full-time role as Head of English at my school. It came out of a sense that God wanted me to offer myself at that place in whatever capacity that place needed. I do it without a sense of achievement or pride. I didn’t have my sights on it, or work hard to get it, and, while I’m doing my best at it, I hold it pretty lightly. 

This feels much more like surrender, which I hope is my new way of moving through the world. 

I don’t think having goals is wrong. I admire people who set themselves lofty challenges and achieve them, and I wonder if my own sense of ambition will return someday. 

But right now I’m enjoying this season of my life. I think I’m finally starting to live more freely and lightly. 

Do you have a big plan for yourself, or is the way forward just dimly lit?