In this blog post I want to highlight, summarize, and reflect on Clay Scroggins’s book titled, How to Lead When You’re Not in Charge, Chapter 3, “Reclaim Kibosh”
Clay Scroggins is the lead pastor of North Point Community Church and works with leadership expert and pastor Andy Stanley.
So, before we dive into the how of leading when you’re not in charge, we need to spend some time on the why. The why of leadership is the engine that drives your leadership train. (p 63)
A distortion in motivation will limit your leadership and cause of host of issues that will follow you wherever your professional life takes you. The distortion I see for many young leaders revolves around one word: ambition. (p. 63)
Knowing how to handle ambition as Jesus followers is even trickier. (p. 64)
How you currently think about the ambition inside you is the product of your personal wiring and your past mentors. (p. 64)
I (CS) define ambition as:
that strong desire we have to make something or achieve something, event when it takes great effort, focus, and determination.Clay Scroggins How to Lead When You’re not in charge
Ambition doesn’t magically begin when you are placed in charge. Believing that you need a position of authority to exercise your ambition is a lie, and as soon as that lie takes root in you, you will find yourself losing the influence you desire to cultivate and develop. (p. 65)
I was raised in a church where the desire to something with my life was too easily confused with the desire to make something of my life. (p. 67)
CS describes a moment where he was in high school and was made aware of a “Holy Ambition”
Ambition might be often closely associated with the sinful tendency to seek prominence, grab power, and grow in pride at the expense of others. (p. 68)
The New Testament speaks against cultivating ambitions – desires – motivated by selfishness in the pursuit of prominence, pride, and power. (Phil. 2:3 and James 3:16)
Some leaders let their ambition run wild. Those are the leaders that only think about themselves. (p. 69)
Leading when you’re not in charge does not mean you learn new skills to get ahead by circumventing the authority above you. (p. 70)
Be aware that you will never find that magical place where you can lead without any constraints. (p. 71)
The more leaders I speak with, the more I realize that no one ever feels fully in charge. (p. 72)
Leading without constraints and giving into unbridled ambition will be the death of any leader because God didn’t intend for our ambition to run wild. (p. 72)
We need to understand what ambition is, where it comes from, why God has put it in you, and how to harness it for the purpose it was given.
Scroggins, in Chapter 3, urges leaders and their ambition to seek to subdue their ambition in a healthy way that does not let it run rampant but does not exactly “kill” their ambition. No ambition is not a good thing and it contrary to God’s design. Ambition running wild is not the idea either because you’ll never be able to fully do everything that you want, and it’s not healthy for an organization.
The task for any leader is to temper his or her ambition and balance it.
As I reflect on my career and leadership, I think that I’ve been ambitious in doing a lot of things. I don’t think that I have ever had the classic ambition that Scroggins speaks about. Though I can say that there have been many times that I have just given up or feel like giving up.
But, I think that Scroggins’ advice is necessary.