Most of us make small sacrifices all the time. We sacrifice our time to help a friend in need. We sacrifice our money to help those less fortunate. We sacrifice our pride and ego to benefit the team. We sacrifice our popularity to do what’s right. It is not difficult to give up small things for family and friends, but it is more difficult to do it for strangers. Usually, the greater the cost the more difficult it is to make the sacrifice.

  Leaders are no stranger to sacrifice. According to leadership expert John Maxwell, the Law of Sacrifice is an essential part of leading well.

  • “The heart of good leadership is sacrifice. If you desire to become the best leader you can be, then you need to be willing to make sacrifices in order to lead well.” [i] 

  Many leaders give until it hurts: working late, extra meetings, long hours, thankless effort, criticism, taking the heat, dealing with conflict, and constant problem solving. Many of us often sacrifice our time, money, energy, and sleep to get the job done. However, most leaders stop short of sacrificing their lives.


  For Jesus, the cost of leading was high. He made the ultimate sacrifice and gave His life for His followers, for you and me, and for the world.

  • And I give myself as a holy sacrifice for them so they can be made holy by your truth. (John 17:19, NLT)

  • … so also Christ died once for all time as a sacrifice to take away the sins of many people. He will come again, not to deal with our sins, but to bring salvation to all who are eagerly waiting for him. (Heb. 9:28, NLT)

  While Jesus’ sacrifice is amazing, it can be hard to comprehend. Why did he do it? He did it because God the Father asked Him to do it. He did it because He was the only one who was sinless and could pay the price for our sins. He did it out of love. He did it because He cared more about us than He did about Himself. He did it despite our not being worthy of His sacrifice. He gave up Himself in order to gain something greater.

  What did He give up? When Jesus died on the cross, He gave up His righteousness for our unrighteousness. He gave up His union with the Father. He temporarily gave up His throne. He swallowed His pride and embraced humility. He gave up His dignity. He lost His status. He bore the sins of the world upon His back and body as He took our punishment and our suffering. Was it terrible, awful, tragic, traumatizing, unfair, and brutal? Yes! Did He want to do it? No, but He surrendered His will to the Father and did it anyway.

  Did we deserve Jesus’ sacrifice? No, but in the end, God decided you were worth it. Through Jesus’ sacrifice, you, me, and the whole world benefits. If that doesn’t convey the value of people, I don’t know what does. Jesus sets the bar high, and as leaders we have a lot to learn from Him.

What does Jesus’ sacrifice mean to you?


Posted: June 2023 • Author: Larry Ely

Excerpt: “Chapter 4- Change in Values: What’s Important?” from Leadership and Faith: The Art of Leading Well.

© Larry Ely & Daniel Ely. All rights reserved.

Note: [i] John Maxwell, The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership: 10th Anniversary Edition (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2007), 222.