I have found two of the most subtle and devastating enemies of a leader. It’s selfish ambition and competition. The reason it is so subtle is most leadership books tell you to ‘go for it’, ‘no pain no gain’, ‘your accomplishments are your success’, ‘competition only makes you better’, etc.
While I understand what these phrases mean they can easily get out of control and cause us to compete with others instead of doing the will of God. Ambition is good as long as it’s ambition for God’s will in our life. If it’s anything else it becomes about us, in other words selfish.
For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice. James 3:16
This verse talks about envy which often drives us to competition with others and ambition which makes it all about me. I don’t know about you but I have a hard time with this. I am a hard worker and do my best to obey God. But I often find myself not driving for what pleases God but to be better than the guy down the street.
I often want the most attention, the most fruitful ministry, to be the best worker, the biggest …. whatever … you fill in the blanks.
Selfish ambition and competition with others will destroy you, side track you from God’s will, make you unhappy, and cause you to miss God’s will for your life. How do I keep from competition and selfish ambition? Here are some questions I often ask myself to help me with this weakness.
Do I inwardly celebrate when someone you are in competition with ‘fails’?
Am I more concerned about ‘my thing’ than the big picture of what God is doing?
Do I manipulate people and circumstances to make something happen instead of letting God give it to me?
Do I never show the real me to anyone because I am afraid to be transparent because it may hurt my image?
Am I reluctant to share power or information because I don’t want anyone knowing as much as me?
Do I feel rejected personally when someone rejects my ideas?
Am I secure in what God has asked me to do and this is enough?
Do I let God promote me or do I promote myself?
Of these 8 questions we should be able to answer no to the first 6 and yes to the last two. Frankly, most of these questions I can’t answer that way. But with God’s help I will overcome selfish ambition and competition.
How did you do on the 8 questions?