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By Ava Pennington—

For twenty years, I embraced ambition. In pursuing advancement as an executive in New York City, I worked my way up from entry level to Vice President of Human Resources for two financial services companies.

Then I walked away from the corporate world. My husband and I left New York and I planned to focus the second half of my life teaching Bible studies and writing for the Christian market.

Most of my extended family didn’t know what to make of our plans. How could I walk away from a successful and lucrative career? One relative told me I was being shortsighted. In his words, “You have at least another ten good years of successful work in you.”

But success is not always what it seems. For me, success means doing what I’ve been called to do. That doesn’t mean I wasn’t called to work in the corporate world for twenty years. It just means that when the call changed, I needed to change, too.

In the movie, Chariots of Fire, Olympic runner Eric Liddell is quoted as saying, “I believe God made me for a purpose, but he also made me fast. And when I run I feel His pleasure.” Liddell went on to become a missionary to China. When I consider the call on my life now, I can appreciate how he felt. I believe God gave me the gifts of teaching and writing. When I do both, I also feel His pleasure.

Jesus reminded us that the treasures of this world will not last. But we have the opportunity to store up a different kind of treasure—one with eternal value. When our ambition is to value people over things, and God’s pleasure over the world’s accolades, that indeed is true success.

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:19-21 NIV).





© 2010 Martin Alan Grivjack PhotographyMartin Alan Grivjack PhotographyAva Pennington is a writer, Bible teacher, and speaker. Her newest book,Daily Reflections on the Names of God: A Devotional, is endorsed by Precepts founder Kay Arthur. Additionally, Ava is co-author of Faith Basics for Kids. The first two books in the series are Do You Love Me More? andWill I See You Today? She has also written numerous articles for magazines such as Today’s Christian WomanPower for Living, and Called.

In addition to her writing, Ava also teaches a weekly, Bible Study Fellowship (BSF) class of 175+ women. She is a passionate speaker and teacher, and delights in challenging audiences with the truth of God’s word in relevant, enjoyable presentations. Ava and Russ have been married for 35 years and live in southeast Florida.

For more information, visit her at www.AvaWrites.com


  1. 11-22-2013


    I could really relate to your post. My husband and I walked away from our careers in public education in 2006. At the time, I had landed a very well-paying administrative position and was on track for eventual superintendency. Clint had moved into a prime teaching position and had finally been in education long enough to draw a pretty good salary for a teacher. But, God was calling and we couldn’t deny His voice. We have been serving as fulltime marriage missionaries for the last seven years. Now, we can’t imagine life any other way.

    Thank you for your article and the reminder as to how God measures success! By the way, I was thrilled to see your article in Today’s Christian Woman. Way to go!

    • 11-22-2013

      Thank you, Penny! Amazing things happen when we follow God’s leading as He changes our direction AND our definition of success.
      And thanks also for your kind words about the article in Today’s Christian Woman!

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