The Law of Sacrifice

Published 10:31 pm Thursday, January 11, 2018

By Elaine Lankford

Hampton Roads is the ultimate military community. As most locals know, Norfolk is home to the world’s largest naval base. We are a proud military community, knowing firsthand the sacrifice our brave men and women in uniform make daily. We are blessed to live in a country where so many are willing to lay down their lives to ensure freedom for all.

Though we really can’t compare business to serving in the armed forces, it is also true that establishing and growing a business doesn’t come without sacrifice. Those who have been in business for a while have given up more than the average person knows. So, let me ask you, what are you willing to sacrifice today to take your business to the next level tomorrow? Is it time, finances, hobbies or even certain relationships? Regardless of what “it” is, make no mistake, we will have to sacrifice something.

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In “The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership,” John Maxwell describes what should be seen as a progressive system of sacrifice. Leaders accept a variety of challenging sacrifices when they are determined to grow personally as a leader and to succeed in their business. John calls this the Law of Sacrifice: A leader must give up to go up.

Whether it is the entrepreneur just trying to get off the ground or the business executive of 10 years, each must get comfortable with being able to do less of what they really want to do while taking on higher levels of responsibility.

Sure, we would all love to take four weeks of vacation every year or work half days on Fridays or even drive the best car. We would all love to spend time with our families uninterrupted or participate in whatever activities invigorate us whenever we like, but no one achieves that kind of freedom without making some serious sacrifices on the front end.

What do we need to understand about sacrificial leadership?

  • There is no success without sacrifice. The fact of the matter is that leaders who want to truly succeed are not looking for second-rate opportunities. They are looking for the best opportunities. Therefore, you might see them give up what might be a comfortable, safe position for a chance to be in a challenging, intellectually stimulating one. They are willing to sacrifice the former to have the latter.
  • Leaders are often asked to give up more than others. Period. And no, it will not be fair, but it will be worth it in the end. Napoleon Hill once said: “Great achievement is usually born of great sacrifice, and is never the result of selfishness.”
  • You must keep giving up to stay up. If you want to be a highly influential leader, expect that you will stay in a constant state of giving versus receiving.
  • The higher the level of leadership, the greater the sacrifice. Luke 12:48 states it best: When someone has been given much, much will be required in return; and when someone has been entrusted with much, even more will be required.

Take some time to consider what you are trying to achieve. Then consider what you are willing to sacrifice for it. Uncommon achievement in business doesn’t happen without true sacrificial leadership. It is not an option, but a given.

“What we have done for ourselves alone dies with us; what we have done for others and the world remains and is immortal.” — Albert Pike

Elaine Lankford is a John Maxwell certified coach, teacher, trainer, and speaker. She is the founder of Transforming Love Ministries, LLC and a board member of the Christian Business Coalition of Hampton Roads. Replies can be sent to