the shape of leadership

Great Leaders Are Willing to Sacrifice Their Rights

The world needs to see more of Jesus and less of us

Rod Loy on October 1, 2018

One of the most interesting stories in the Bible appears in the first three chapters of John. An amazing leader, John the Baptist attracted multitudes, but he told his followers, “You think I’m good? Just wait. There is one coming after me who is amazing. I’m not even worthy to tie His shoes!”

One day when John saw Jesus walking toward him, John declared to his followers: “Look, the lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29).

The next day John was with two of his disciples when Jesus passed by. Again, John said, “Look, the Lamb of God!” (John 1:36). That day, something different happened. “When the two disciples heard him say this, they followed Jesus” (verse 37).

The Bible doesn’t tell us who those two guys were, but if they were getting personal attention from John, they were likely some of his key leaders — two people he had poured his life into. Suddenly they chose to leave him and follow Jesus.

As the third chapter of John unfolds, Jesus was gaining followers and John was losing followers. John’s ministry was growing smaller every day. Some of his remaining followers finally approached him to express concern: “They came to John and said to him, ‘Rabbi, that man who was with you on the other side of the Jordan — the one you testified about — look, he is baptizing, and everyone is going to him’” (John 3:26).

John’s response is one of the most powerful passages in the entire Bible: “To this John replied, ‘A person can receive only what is given them from heaven. You yourselves can testify that I said, “I am not the Messiah but am sent ahead of him.” The bride belongs to the bridegroom. The friend who attends the bridegroom waits and listens for him and is full of joy when he hears the bridegroom’s voice. That joy is mine, and it is now complete. He must become greater; I must become less’” (John 3:27-30).

When you believe Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life, you recognize the need — and, indeed, the honor — of moving aside to turn the focus on Him.

The King James Version says it this way: “He must increase, but I must decrease.” My way of saying it is, “There must be more of Jesus and less of me.”

There’s no doubt about it; in our world, Jesus must increase. We need more of Him. Everywhere are reminders of just how much we need Him. We hear about war, recession, depression, natural disasters, nuclear threats, sexual harassment, opiate addiction, and human trafficking. Our world and our nation need more of Jesus.

It’s easy to get excited at the idea of Jesus increasing. Great old-time Pentecostal preachers can camp on that one phrase and bring a crowd to their feet: “Jesus must increase.” But there’s a second part to that verse, one we really don’t like to discuss much. John said, “He must increase, but I must decrease” or, “I must become less.” John was saying, “There must be more of Jesus and less of John.”

“I must decrease” has not been the rallying cry of the Church in recent years. We’re all about superstar preachers, hotshot worship leaders, and television stars. We’ve made our own names famous rather than pointing others to the Name that is above all names.

When you believe Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life, you recognize the need — and, indeed, the honor — of moving aside to turn the focus on Him. Like John, you see clearly one of the simplest truths of all: To reach a world that desperately needs Jesus, “He must increase, but I must decrease.”

Embracing that one truth could rock our world. Can you imagine what might happen if you really decided it wasn’t about you and me but about Him? Can you imagine the difference if what you liked, preferred and wanted wasn’t the central issue, but the primary objective was to see Jesus increase? What kind of impact would a person, a church, or a business like that make?

John could have told his followers, “You’re right. We must do something about this Jesus guy. I am John the Baptist. Baptism is my deal. We’ve got to get bigger and better. We’ve got to win. After all, we did this first.”

Instead, John the Baptist was willing to sacrifice his rights, preferences, and fame so people would know Jesus. I want to be like that. More of Jesus, less of me. I want to impact a world. I want to point a generation to Jesus. If that’s going to happen, if we’re going to change our world, we must focus on the second half of the equation: “I must decrease.”

Abridged from Chapter 10 of Help! I’m in Charge: Stuff Leadership Experts Didn’t Tell You by Rod Loy (Influence Resources, 2018). Visit for more information.

This article originally appeared in the September/October 2018 edition of Influence magazine.


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