If you have been leading for any period of time you have learned the corrosive power of selfishness on a team. Instead of being committed to the mission of the ministry or organization, a selfish team member is obsessed with his or her own agenda. Selfish team members can’t bring unbiased wisdom to a discussion because they are constantly wondering “What is in it for me?” Selfish team members constantly direct energy away from the mission because they are consumed with their own goals. What are some indicators of selfishness?
The Scripture gives teaches that “Love is patient, love is kind. Love does not envy, is not boastful, is not arrogant, is not rude, is not self-seeking…” [I Corinthians 13:4-5]
Many scholars believe that the phase “not self-seeking” is the lynchpin for the other characteristics. That a person who is not self-seeking will display the other attributes of love. With that view in mind, here are fours signs of selfishness:
Holy initiative and ambition is not the same as impatience. The former is about the mission; the latter is about the person’s agenda. A person who is selfless is patient because the person does not think everything is about them. In the same way, a selfish person is impatient. Everything is about them, all the time and they believe everyone should drop everything for them.
A person who is selfless is kind because the person wants others to be treated well and is not consumed with being treated well. A self-seeking person is mean to others, often out of insecurity, so that he or she will be elevated.
A selfless person does not envy because they are humble and don’t want what others have or think they deserve what others have. Someone who is self-centered cannot stand for others to be celebrated or to be promoted. People who are filled with envy will resist the challenge to develop others because they hate the idea of others surpassing them.
4. Boastful and Rude
A selfless person is not boastful and rude because they have no need to promote themselves. Selfless team members are secure in who God has declared them to be and don’t think about themselves continually or think of themselves as better than others. But those who are boastful and rude reveal that they are motivated for themselves.
It is, of course, much easier to look for self-centeredness in others. But Plato was correct, “the first and greatest victory is to conquer yourself.” If a leader is self-centered, the team is likely to follow. Leaders — we must first look to the planks in our own eyes before inspecting the specks in others.