Sometimes leaders are celebrated for arriving at a place where they have faithful enough followers to ensure they no longer have to do dirty or difficult work. We say it is an honor. We say they deserve it. We say they have put in their time. Is it possible leaders can lead well enough or for long enough that they graduate from difficult and sacrificial work?

The moment a leader feels they graduate past the point of needing to sacrifice and do hard things is the moment they stop modeling Christ-like leadership. I believe this type of thinking will hijack the change this world needs, and the change young people need to see.

It is a lie to assume sacrifice is seasonal, difficult times are temporary, and that we arrive at “true leadership” when the hard work is being done by others. Leaders have not been called to grow past a place of sacrificial living, but to commit to a lifestyle of sacrificial leadership.

A primary way we are called to love others is by reciprocating the ways in which God has loved and led his children. God-like leadership goes beyond charisma and good ideas to the transformation of the individuals that follow. The gospel is a message in which God looked at his children and saw unprecedented value, bound-up in a broken world. To release his children from bondage and give them the opportunity to live the life for which they were created, he sacrificed everything. He did whatever it took to move forward with a plan of redemption.

Our lives are meant for sacrifice. When we step into our purpose and demonstrate this God-like, loving leadership, lives are changed. Hearts are softened toward him and redemption is furthered.

As we look to the Father and see his willingness to painfully sacrifice his most prized possession, his very own son and self, to see us made whole, we see the life we have been called to. We have been called to sacrifice our lives, our possessions, and our efforts, to see a broken world made whole.

Sacrifice is not meant to be something we experience as a rookie, looking forward to the day we finally graduate and receive promotion to executive staff, forever freed from the burdensome labors of our youth. When students look to leaders, teachers, principals, pastors and parents, they ought to see the sacrificial leadership of God being lived out. We are called to not only recognize the sacrifice God made for us, but to model that same sacrificial and compassionate spirit to those he entrusts to our leadership. It is only in our submission to his example that the world is redeemed and restored.

Society often says that leadership supersedes sacrifice. In reality Leadership + Sacrifice illuminates God’s very own way of leading his people.