Leadership Tensions: Ambition vs. Self-Control

Most leaders are driven and ambitious.  We see opportunities and we go after them.  We see farther than others can see and help lead people to those possibilities.

At its best, our ambition is part of our gift of leadership and serves to propel the mission forward.

At its worst, our ambition steamrolls those we serve and may crush the work that God is doing through us.

This is why we as leaders have to be constantly measuring our ambition with the fruit of the spirit of self-control.

Unbridled ambition becomes destructive, but when we filter it through self-control we can more appropriately strike the balance of being an effective yet driven leader.

Self-control is simply “exercising restraint over our impulses, emotions and desires”.  (Merriam-Webster)

The implications of this are huge!

We are never honoring God with our gift of leadership, if we are abandoning one of the character qualities He has called us to. 

If our ambition is fueled by our own desires or impulses, it’s not God-honoring.  But when our ambition is filtered through self-control, we remove our selfish desires and are driven by a passion for implementing God’s plan and purpose instead.

Self-control helps us eliminate our desires from the leadership equation.

How many times in our leadership, do we push for something because of a desire or emotion that we feel?  The next time you feel yourself beginning to lead from an emotional reaction, pull back and filter it through self-control.

Can you think of a situation where you have recently let ambition drive your leadership without the filter of self-control? 

  • whiteo5

    am absolutely inspired…..as a theologian i do understand that human beings have an inherent problem called Sin which is Self…..in the process of leadership then it becomes a problem to distinguish between Ambition and Self. thanks Jenni

  • RJ

    Great Article. Here’s another thought. The same way the we “steamroll” others is the same manner in which we approach our personal struggles. We take that same “drive” smothered in ambition to make sure that get through the challenging season. Refusing to stop long enough to survey our terrain and truly feel the pain of the struggle in order to grow in the direction that God is steering. How do I know? :) (SMH) …..thank God for grace.