You Gotta Know What to Sacrifice

By | September 29, 2019

[September 29, 2019]  Ancient texts, written many centuries ago, are a window into the thinking of those who existed before modern conveniences.  A common theme is a sacrifice to the immortal gods.  If we are to look at these writings as a whole, the ancients were trying to tell us something.  They were saying to be a better person, you must sacrifice, and you must know what to properly sacrifice.

Our modern world has freed up much of our day to do what we want.  To fill this vacant time, we indulge in modern entertainment, hobbies, and the wasting of many hours on things of no real value.  The modern individual is less satisfied with their life than ever before.  We carry burdens around with us like a soldier with a heavy rucksack.  Yet, we do little to lighten the load.

Our ancients understood the burdens of living and the struggle to be a better person, father, mother, workers, etc.  This meant that anything that did not directly improve our lives had to be eliminated.  If you wanted to be a good father, for example, you had to also gather food, clothing, and shelter for your family.  Drunkenness, laziness, lying, seeking revenge, envying others, and other of the Seven Deadly Sins distract us from fulfilling our mission to be that better person.

The sacrifice is to rid ourselves of those “evils.”  That sacrifice is not easy. Neither was the sacrifice of an animal to the ancients an easy thing.  To give up what we value is no easy task.  But it is not wasted either.  Giving up smoking, drinking, lying, etc. makes us better.  It may be fun hanging out on the corner with friends after 2 am, but it gives us nothing in return but grief and continues us down the path of personal destruction.

To sacrifice means that we are giving up something of ourselves today so that we can have a better tomorrow.  The biggest problem is that we don’t often know what to sacrifice properly.  The human condition is to always travel to something better.  Get a good-paying job, move to a new city, attend a community meeting, and so forth.  These make us better in that we become more satisfied with both ourselves and with others.

There are things we do sacrifice that we should not.  A couple of days ago, for example, I wrote about a good friend JC Ayers who sacrificed his health to spend more time with his family and running his restaurant.  His life was cut short, and his failing health was a factor in his painful death.

The ancients knew that sacrifice was the way to a better tomorrow.  Our modern world tells us that there is no need for sacrifice.  Hard works, devotion to others, standing by your family when the chips are down … all are sacrifices that have remained unchanged for millennia.

Author: Douglas R. Satterfield

Hello. I'm Doug and I provide at least one article everyday on some leadership topic. I welcome comments and also guests who would like to write an article. Thanks for reading my blog.

23 thoughts on “You Gotta Know What to Sacrifice

  1. Mike Baker

    Excellent. I learned a lot from your article. The whole idea of ‘sacrifice’ is overused in religion but underused in our normal lives. Why is that? Bottom line is that our education system needs to be upgraded.

  2. Mr. T.J. Asper

    In school you give up your time and fun to study so that you can be a better student and better person. If we are not sacrificing ourselves of today for ourselves tomorrow, then we will never know the satisfaction of winning. This is what I tell my football players.

  3. Gil Johnson

    The idea of sacrifice and what specifically to sacrifice and when is one of those forever themes in human social evolution. In the “old days” we sacrificed animals or food. These had great value. Humans adopted the idea that the greater today’s sacrifice the greater the reward sometime in the future. There are myths of societies sacrificing children so that the gods looked favorably upon them and brought rain for their crops and prevented great natural disasters. Thus, sacrifice is of great import.

    1. Darryl Sitterly

      So very true! And this is a lesson that is often forgotten in today’s PC world.

  4. The Kid 1945

    Christian seven virtues. With Christianity, historic Christian denominations such as the Catholic Church and Protestant Churches, including the Lutheran Church, recognize seven virtues, which correspond inversely to each of the seven deadly sins.
    Vice Virtue
    Lust Chastity
    Gluttony Temperance
    Greed Charity (or, sometimes, Generosity)
    Sloth Diligence
    Wrath Patience
    Envy Gratitude
    Pride Humility

  5. Doug Smith

    The phoenix is a story of burning off of the old bad parts of your ‘self’ and the rebirth of the new. Of course, this is the story of sacrifice.

  6. JT Patterson

    If you want to read a good book on this (along with academics who can help) look into Dante’s Purgatorio. The penitents walk deliberately thru the purifying flames of the uppermost of the terraces of Mount Purgatory so as to purge themselves of lustful thoughts and feelings. They finally win the right to reach the Earthly paradise at the summit.

    1. Tomas Clooney

      In Dante’s Inferno, unforgiving souls guilty of the sin of lust are whirled around for all eternity in a tempest, symbolic of the passions by which they were buffeted helplessly in their earthly lives.

  7. Otto Z. Zuckermann

    Many examples of people who need to sacrifice the bad parts of their lives live in Hollywood. You can read about them in the tabloids and ‘see’ for yourself what a terrible life they live even when rolling in money.

  8. Scotty Bush

    I found it interesting that the article touched on the Seven Deadly Sins. If you would like to read about the origin of this idea, here is a link here: There are many patterns of human behavior that are NOT good for us. For example, pride, gluttony, wrath, sadness, sloth and so on. Take these as you wish but the modern human is not more exempt from these as the ancient person was thousands of years ago.

    1. Walter H.

      Reading about these is very interesting. Of course, we should SACRIFICE those bad habits (deadly sins) that hold us back. They are so easy to slide into and difficult to push away. This explains how so many folks are lost and need to ‘find themselves.’

    2. Eric Coda

      Remember when US Pres Jimmy Carter said he had lust in his heart. What a moron for admitting it to everyone on television. He was one of the worst presidents ever and not because he had “lust” in his heart but because of his pride; it got in his way of making the right decisions at the right time.

  9. Yusaf from Texas

    Good morning to all readers of this blog. For those of us who have been big fans of this leadership blog for several years have noticed that it is evolving into more philosophical areas; so yes, I do believe it is a good thing.

  10. Greg Heyman

    Now, I know you are a philosopher, Gen. Satterfield. Who else would write something like this that goes to the heart of what we are as a people.

    1. Harry Donner

      Great comment. The idea of sacrifice is as old as humans. No other animal has the foresight to think ahead for tomorrow, not even the chimp.

    2. Ronny Fisher

      … and animals do not sacrifice. They live for the moment. That distinguishes us from them. Sacrificing infers something of value. Thus, to rid yourself or remove it from yourself means that something of value is lost. That could be anything. The greater the sacrifice, the greater the value that is lost. But, and this is a big but, the future holds something of greater value than what is sacrificed.

    3. Nick Lighthouse

      Ha Ha. There are several of us who have said the same thing in the past. Is Gen. Satterfield getting a bit old? Or is he trying to tell us something different than most blogs on leadership? I think he is being straightforward with us.

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