Leadership Often Requires Sacrifice

Principles of Leadership Teachers Manual Religion 180R, (2001), 44–47

“And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me. “He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it” (Matthew 10:38–39).

Principle of Leadership

Church and family leaders must be willing to make sacrifices to help those they serve.

Lesson Concepts

  1. 1.

    Jesus Christ exemplified sacrifice in His service to others.

  2. 2.

    Leaders must be willing to make sacrifices for those they serve.

Concept 1. Jesus Christ Exemplified Sacrifice in His Service to Others.


Jesus Christ set the perfect example of sacrifice for others. No gift was greater than the gift of His Atonement. President Spencer W. Kimball said of the Savior: “He was always the giver, seldom the recipient. Never did he give shoes, hose, or a vehicle; never did he give perfume, a shirt, or a fur wrap. His gifts were of such a nature that the recipient could hardly exchange or return the value. His gifts were rare ones: eyes to the blind, ears to the deaf, and legs to the lame; cleanliness to the unclean, wholeness to the infirm, and breath to the lifeless. His gifts were opportunity to the downtrodden, freedom to the oppressed, light in the darkness, forgiveness to the repentant, hope to the despairing. His friends gave him shelter, food, and love. He gave them of himself, his love, his service, his life. The wise men brought him gold and frankincense. He gave them and all their fellow mortals resurrection, salvation, and eternal life. … To give of oneself is a holy gift” (The Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, ed. Edward L. Kimball [1982], 246–47).

Teaching Idea

Have a student read aloud Matthew 10:37–39, and discuss the idea that being a disciple of Christ requires sacrifice. Explain that Jesus Christ set the example as He sacrificed for us. Invite students to name some of the sacrifices He made.

Concept 2. Leaders Must Be Willing to Make Sacrifices for Those They Serve.


The Lord invited early Church leaders to lose themselves in His service. Near the beginning of His mortal ministry, “as he walked by the sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and Andrew his brother casting a net into the sea: for they were fishers.

“And Jesus said unto them, Come ye after me, and I will make you to become fishers of men.

“And straightway they forsook their nets, and followed him” (Mark 1:16–18).

Levi (Matthew) also left his livelihood to follow the Master (see Luke 5:27–28). Peter and the other Apostles also left all (see Luke 18:28). Both Peter and Paul expressed a willingness to lose their lives for His sake (see John 13:37; Acts 21:13). The Savior expected all of His disciples to develop unselfishness towards others (see Luke 3:11; 9:23).

The Lord asks all of His Saints to give up worldliness and seek to become more holy. Alma told the people of Zarahemla: “And now I say unto you, all you that are desirous to follow the voice of the good shepherd, come ye out from the wicked, and be ye separate, and touch not their unclean things” (Alma 5:57; see 2 Corinthians 6:17). The Lord asks each of us to present to Him a broken heart and a contrite spirit (see for example 3 Nephi 9:20).

Church and family leaders must be willing to sacrifice to help those they serve. At various times they may be called on to give their time, talents, and means to bless the lives of others. Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve explained, “Sacrifice is a demonstration of pure love. The degree of our love for the Lord, for the gospel, and for our fellowmen can be measured by what we are willing to sacrifice for them” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1992, 108; or Ensign, May 1992, 76).

As leaders sacrifice for those they serve, they should keep in mind King Benjamin’s counsel: “For it is not requisite that a man should run faster than he has strength. And again, it is expedient that he should be diligent, that thereby he might win the prize; therefore, all things must be done in order” (Mosiah 4:27; see also D&C 10:4). Elder Neal A. Maxwell, who was then a member of the Presidency of the Seventy, observed: “When we run faster than we are able, we get both inefficient and tired” (Deposition of a Disciple [1976], 58).

Teaching Idea

Invite students to share instances in which people (such as parents and bishops) have sacrificed to help them or someone else. Ask what sacrifices missionaries typically make to help people accept the gospel.

List on the board things family and Church leaders might be called on to sacrifice to help those they serve. Include assets leaders must be willing to share, such as time and talents. Include also weaknesses they must be willing to forgo, such as worldliness (see the commentary).

Discuss ways the sacrifices of leaders benefit those they serve. Discuss how the Lord blesses the leaders who make these sacrifices.

Have students read Mosiah 4:27 and explain how this verse applies to Church and family leaders. Share insights from the commentary, and explain that leaders must “pace themselves” in their service.

Teacher Resources

Gordon B. Hinckley