July 24, 2015

How Self-Sacrifice Leads to Amazing Victories

No nation, or relationship, thrives outside of self-sacrifice.  It just isn’t possible. If few people are willing to fight to make a nation strong, it may not survive. By the same token, if somebody isn’t willing to sacrifice some of his needs to keep a relationship going, it may fizzle out.

Individuals who are self-centered or selfish don’t see beyond the moment—or beyond themselves. Their vision is limited. Such people don’t see the value in working with others to make a better world.

The truth is that few large-scale improvements are made in isolation. Earth shakers are willing to work together in order to form a free nation, a healthier relationship, a career that leaves a lasting legacy, and so forth.

George Washington

He was the Commander-in-Chief of the Continental Army during the Revolutionary War and the first President of the United States. He was a humble, selfless man. Washington was a wealthy plantation owner from Virginia, not an active politician.

This great man was happy with the uncomplicated country life of  his estate: Mt. Vernon. He always maintained he didn’t want the position of commanding general. John Adams and Benjamin Franklin are the ones who referred him for the job. However, in the end, Congress approved the appointment unanimously.

Here’s another example of the gentleman farmer’s modesty: He insisted on serving without any compensation except for the reimbursement of expenses. He was in a continual battle with Congress to pay the wages that were due: those of his starving men.

The Soldiers at Valley Forge, Pennsylvania

Members of the army often left families and businesses in order to fight for freedom. On the contrary, the British were professional soldiers from one of the most powerful countries on earth. What rational hope did the untrained colonials have? Absolutely none.

The colonists knew that winning was a long shot.  However, they sacrificed their individual needs in order to keep the dream of liberty alive. What were the immediate “rewards” of staying in the game?
  • Hunger—Many days there was nothing to eat.  The History Channel suggests that the main food staple on other days was firecake. This is a mixture of flour and water that was cooked in iron kettles. (No yeast was available.) On good days, it was tasteless. On bad days, the men would find pests such as maggots and weevils mixed in with the flour.
  • Sickness—History buff, Dave Meyer, says that ¼ of the men died from flu, smallpox, and typhoid fever.
  • Freezing weather—One of the coldest on record. Many died of exposure.
  • Money—They usually didn’t get paid for months at a time.
  • Clothes—Many soldiers wore rags. Some had no coats. Others had no shoes.


This prophet is another example of someone who gave up much for the future—and for the greater good. Various scriptures hint at Elijah’s melancholy nature. Most likely, he suffered from clinical depression.

He wasn’t an outgoing individual who thrived in the limelight. However, passages such as I Kings, chapter 18, show us how hard he worked to overcome his natural tendency to introversion. He fearlessly confronted the priests of Baal in a public showdown.

My Conclusion

How many crucial improvements in the world would happen if everyone concerned themselves only with their present comfort? Not many. George Washington, his soldiers, and the prophet Elijah are only three examples of individuals and groups who selflessly provided a safer, happier world for their countrymen.

How have you sacrificed your comfort for the greater good?

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