If you’re like me (and like most people), you find selfishness in other people to be a real turn off.
But if we’re honest, very few of us are naturally self-less. Every day, I fight selfishness.
If you’re driven and even a little bit ambitious like I am, you have to be doubly careful.
Because when selfishness and ambition move into the same room together the combination is deadly.
Left undealt with, selfish ambition will harm:
And almost everything else in your life.
So you have to deal with it. Ruthlessly.
The reality is most of us aren’t exactly sure how selfish we are.
How can you know? Believe it or not, it’s not that difficult to find out.
It Starts Innocently Enough
Most of us secretly want to be better known, valued and appreciated than we are. That’s not entirely bad, and it’s part of a natural human longing that comes from our sin and desire for a restored relationship with God, others and even ourselves.
For some of us, the desire to be known or appreciated extends only to a wider relational circle.
For others, it’s more public. We long to be better known in our ministry, in our company, to see our product selling, our album get recorded, our blog get traction or to find ourselves thousands of Twitter followers or Facebook friends.
If we were to pry behind the secret motivation…we think that would make us feel ‘successful’…as though we matter.
I know I’ve struggled with this over the years.
When I was starting out in ministry, I wanted to be that guy who spoke at conferences and was well respected as a leader in ministry. I never talked about that kind of thing publicly or privately, but if you were to gain access to my sinful mind, the thought spun around in my head from time to time.
God 1, Me 0 (How God Snapped My Will)
Then in a season of my life over a decade ago, God wrestled that down. Well, that’s putting it nicely. He snapped my ambition.
He took me to a place where I realized that as much as I didn’t want to admit it even to myself, much of my motivation was selfish and not God-honouring. I finally surrendered it to him after a painful wrestling match.
In my struggles with God, God brought me to a point where I could see myself serving as an effective pastor in the middle of nowhere without ever anyone knowing who I was. I didn’t really want that definition of success. But I embraced it anyway.
As best I could, I surrendered my ambition to God. I gave in. (Kind of foolish that we resist giving into God, isn’t it? But we do.)
I’m so grateful I had that painful encounter with God.
Left unchecked, selfish ambition turns servants of God into servants of themselves.
12 Ways Selfish Ambition Damages a Leader’s Soul (And What Happens When You Give It Up)
I’ve come to enjoy the slow death of selfish ambition in my life. It’s not complete, but it’s in progress. Here’s what I’m learning and (now) loving about the difference.
These 12 things are true when you’re motivated by selfish ambition: