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To Praise Ambitious Men

April 23rd, 2024 | 18 min read

By Jake Meador

David Bahnsen, Full-Time: Work and the Meaning of Life (New York: Post Hill Press). 208 pp. $24, cloth. 

I sometimes tell people, when recommending that they read A Severe Mercy, that they should know the book presents as a love story but, in reality, it is actually a conversion story. If you understand that going in, your whole experience of the book will be better.

A similar comment might apply to David Bahnsen's Full Time: Work and the Meaning of Life. If you take the book to be a reflection on work, you're only getting part of the story. Really the book is a vindication of what John Piper might call "holy ambition," and a clear argument that "holy ambitions" are not only ambitions toward missions or vocational ministry, but that an ambition to succeed in one's profession can and should be regarded as holy as well. Indeed, everything I love about the book is bound up in its treatment of ambition and much of what I disliked is related to its treatment of "work."

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Jake Meador

Jake Meador is the editor-in-chief of Mere Orthodoxy. He is a 2010 graduate of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln where he studied English and History. He lives in Lincoln, NE with his wife Joie, their daughter Davy Joy, and sons Wendell, Austin, and Ambrose. Jake's writing has appeared in The Atlantic, Commonweal, Christianity Today, Fare Forward, the University Bookman, Books & Culture, First Things, National Review, Front Porch Republic, and The Run of Play and he has written or contributed to several books, including "In Search of the Common Good," "What Are Christians For?" (both with InterVarsity Press), "A Protestant Christendom?" (with Davenant Press), and "Telling the Stories Right" (with the Front Porch Republic Press).