There is undeniably sacrifice in leadership. You’re constantly called to put others before yourself! John Maxwell, Christian leadership expert, put together a study Bible that teaches you biblical leadership principles. This excerpt comes from that study Bible, and delves into the sacrifices Moses made while being in leadership.

Here’s the passage he’ll be covering: Exodus 3:1–4:13.

Sacrifice in Leadership: A Leader Must Give Up to Go Up

Many leaders want to climb the corporate ladder, hoping that freedom and power wait at the top. They don’t realize that leadership really requires sacrifice.

Leaders who want to rise must do more than take an occasional cut in pay; they have to give up their rights. That’s true of every leader regardless of profession. Talk to any leader, and you will find she has made repeated sacrifices. The higher that leader has climbed, the greater the sacrifices she usually has made. Effective leaders sacrifice much that is good in order to dedicate themselves to what is best.

Leadership demands constant sacrifice. It is an ongoing process, not a one-time payment. The circumstances may change from person to person, but the principle doesn’t: Leadership means sacrifice.

What price are you willing to pay to become a more effective leader? Many leaders keep so busy pursuing their vision and rallying their people that they give it little thought. But leadership always requires sacrifice; no one achieves success without it.

How was Moses able to give up so much and make such great sacrifices without growing bitter or resentful toward God? And what made him willing to return to Egypt as God’s servant after he had enjoyed the best the country had to offer? A quick look at Moses’ life shows how God molded him into an effective leader.

1. Moses was alone with God.

Had Moses stayed in Egypt, would he have listened when God called him? Who knows? But Moses’ exile in Midian gave him 40 years of reflection time. When God finally appeared to him in the burning bush, Moses had grown quiet enough to hear God’s voice.

Leaders in our day take too little time to get alone with God. Most seem continually on the go and rarely quiet themselves. If that description fits you, change your habits and set aside some time to be alone with God. Don’t force God to send you to the desert to get your attention.

2. Moses was honest with God.

By the time Moses met God at the burning bush, no trace remained of the cockiness characteristic of his life in Egypt. He knew his weakness. When God told Moses that he would bring the people out of Egypt, the chastened man replied, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh, and that I should bring the children of Israel out of Egypt?” (Ex. 3:11). Only as an older man, humble before God, could Moses be of any use to God.

The Lord can use you, too, if you will look at yourself honestly, admit your weaknesses, and humble yourself before God.

3. Moses was hungry for God.

What does it take to make someone really hungry for God? It’s different for each of us. Some desire to know God even from childhood. A personal tragedy may realign the priorities of others. And some never turn to God. For Moses, it took four decades in the wilderness.

Could Moses have given up all hope of doing something worthwhile with his life before God finally spoke to him? Probably so. A person can’t be staunchly self-reliant and hungry for God at the same time.

4. Moses was broken by God.

God did not force Himself or His will on Moses. God waited for Moses to willingly come to Him:

“When the Lord saw that he turned aside to look, God called to him from the midst of the bush and said, ‘Moses, Moses!’” (Ex. 3:4).

Once Moses had turned to God, he could be broken.

Brokenness involves two things: removing inappropriate pride and self-reliance and building healthy God-reliance. God tamed Moses’ self-reliance and pride in the desert, but to create trust He had to break the man’s fears. Moses dealt with different kinds of fear in his encounter with God:

  • Fears concerning himself. Moses doubted his own value (Ex. 3:11). God responded by assuring Moses of his purpose.
  • Fears concerning God. Moses feared who God might be. He wanted to know His name and character (Ex. 3:13). God responded by overwhelming Moses with His presence.
  • Fears concerning others. Moses then worried about how God’s people would respond (Ex. 4:1)—hadn’t they already rejected him? God responded by demonstrating His power and commitment.
  • Fears concerning his ability. Moses doubted himself—both his speech (Ex. 4:10) and ability (4:13). God responded by providing him with a partner, his brother Aaron.

With his willfulness broken, his fears overcome, and his purpose reaffirmed, Moses finally placed himself in the hands of God.

Moses’ Sacrifices

Life is filled with trade-offs—but you can trade up only if you have something to sacrifice. Moses had to sacrifice his status and his material possessions to get prepared for his life purpose. And then to fulfill it, again he had to sacrifice. The second time he relinquished the security and safety of obscurity in the desert to return to his boyhood home.

The Sacrifice of Leadership

If you desire to lead—if you hope to find and fulfill the purpose for which God created you—then you must have something to give. Keep growing and building your personal assets and hold lightly the things God gives you. And remember: You may need to sacrifice them at any time to answer His call.

Maxwell Leadership Bible


The content of this blog post on sacrifice in leadership came from the Maxwell Leadership Bible Notes. You can get this study Bible in both NKJV and NIV formats. It offers principles of leadership that will greatly impact the way you guide others.

John Maxwell believes the God created all of us to be leaders/influencers at some level. The principles for leadership in this book can be applied in everyone’s life and every type of relationship, to become more effective in God’s kingdom.

This edition includes new empowering, inspiring tools to equip you to be an even better leader:

  • Maxwell’s 65 Bible book introductions
  • Articles describing the 21 Laws of Leadership and the 21 Qualities of a Leader
  • Notes throughout the Bible that connect with the Laws and Qualities
  • Indexes to the 21 Laws of Leadership and the 21 Qualities of a Leader

Interested? You can learn more about the Maxwell Leadership Bible Notes on our website.

Or watch this awesome review! You can get all this content in the Olive Tree Bible App.


  1. Charles Manu

    How will I know if God love me, and want to use me?

    • Phyllis Paradis

      Dear sir, Mr. Manu

      God our Father sent His only Son to be a sacrifice for our sins and to proclaim right standing with Him when we accept His Son, Jesus as our one and only Saviour. He loves you.
      As we are obedient in our walk , trusting in Him, reading His Word and being sanctified, His purpose for your life unfolds.
      Psalm 139. He knew you while you were yet in your mother’s womb.
      I pray as you continue to walk in His ways in hope, love,
      May our Father bless you and keep you always . Sincerely Phyllis. P.

  2. Edson Phiri

    Enter your comment here..I love the truth about Leadership involving Sacrifice and that the greater the leader, the greater the sacrifice! It is said that true love is sacrifice. Therefore, a leader is a Lover!