Real Leaders Sacrifice Their Number


Because Jesus knew who He was, He put aside His status for the betterment of His followers, teaching them that service is superior to status.

The University of Michigan kicked off the 2013 football season with a sacrificial act worth modeling.

In honor of Tom Harmon, Michigan's first Heisman trophy winner, starting quarterback Devin Gardner switched to No. 98 after previously wearing No. 7. For those unfamiliar with football, know this: a player's jersey number is essentially the player's on-field identity. By sacrificing his number, Gardner is sacrificing his football identity.

In a sport dominated by EGOs (the "Edging God Out" kind), witnessing a team leader lay down his number in reverence to a former player better than himself, is rather refreshing. Through his actions, Gardner is telling his teammates that he is there to serve the team and is not playing for individual accolades. He is confident enough in his real identity that he is willing to don another number.

Servant leadership lesson: Self-sacrifice that honors others is worth following.

In the Gospel of John, we see Jesus Christ modeling this very behavior for his disciples.

"Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God;so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him" (John 13: 3 - 5 NIV).

Jesus was confident in His identity because His identity was not found in His title (John 13: 13 NIV) but rather who God the Father says He is. Because Jesus knew who He was, He put aside His status for the betterment of His followers, teaching them that service is superior to status.

Remember: we don't let our position, title, or material wealth define our identity. We find our identity in God so we can sacrifice our "number" to honor someone greater than ourselves.

"Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them" (John 13: 16 - 17 NIV).

Written by Ryan Mickley

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