Sacrifice the Leader


Ever had someone open up to you about his or her burden and pain, and suddenly you find yourself distanced, ridiculed, or even blamed for issues for which you are not responsible? Most people who desire to help and serve others face this situation at some point in their ministry.

But what can you do? How can you avoid becoming the scapegoat for someone else’s baggage? As a leader, you’re called to serve others. Despite your experience or professional training, you may find yourself taking on undeserved blame and enduring conflict. Sacrifice the Leader offers you candid insight and direction. This book allows you to gain Biblically based understanding in issues such as:

”Why does a follower sometimes choose to project his sins onto a leader?

Which listening skills should a leader develop in order to avoid this?

What steps can a leader take to prevent followers from projecting their sins onto him or her?

Which interpersonal dynamics set a leader up to become a sin-bearer?”

Arm yourself with the knowledge that keeps you in unity with Jesus Christ.


Click here to order Sacrifice the Leader in paperback.

Chapter 1

The Leader as Sacrifice

A survey of 4,665 Protestant minister leaders showed that 58 percent felt that the work of the church seemed futile or ineffectual. Reverend Roy Oswald, a behavioral scientist and authority on clergy burnout, believes that one of every four clergy is burned out and another 25 percent are under great stress and may be on their way to burnout. Even though no comparable study has been made of the laity, I believe that the feelings of frustration and burnout among the laity parallel those of the clergy.

Pastors who have been in the ministry for any period of time and leaders of all kinds find these concerns familiar. Due to the powerlessness of feeling ineffectual, many grow discontent and reconsider the advisability of a lifelong commitment to a leadership role. After frustrating years of service, many find themselves burnt out and willing to say “goodbye” to their leadership position which they once considered the one great dream of their lives.

The consequences of this exodus are especially grave – draining the leadership pool of the Christian church. The effect on those who are in leadership positions in organizations and on their families causes deep suffering and results in a silent, private crisis. If any leader is driven to quit, it results in wasted years of preparation and squandering the investment of congregations and educators who helped to support and train them in preparation for leadership. While observers notice this flight from leadership, it also affects young people who are in the process of deciding if they will take the risk of entering any role of leadership in the church or other organizations.

Cause for Conflict

Leaders give-up for many reasons. Some struggle with lack of fulfillment. Others feel inadequate and unable to make a difference. Many feel overwhelmed by the unreasonable time commitment required. Each of these elements contributes to discouragement. These conflicts can cause the burden of leadership to feel like an overpowering, crushing weight. Ongoing conflict adds to this heavy burden. When one conflict piles atop another, it can finally compel a leader to call it quits.

Why do conflicts develop between leaders and others? There are probably as many reasons as there are situations. However, a common thread which characterizes many such conflicts may deserve more attention.

Can you imagine that in conflict the Christian leader may – as a spiritual leader – bear the weight of sins – become a sacrifice – for the unresolved sins of those who he has leadership over? Once this sin has been deposited onto the leader, that leader is then treated as the sacrifice on the altar. The leader is either consumed as a sacrificial lamb or becomes a scapegoat.

Several years ago a couple called me to intervene in a marital dispute. Fortunately, they quickly reconciled. After the fact, they lost interest in the ministry. Six months later, they turned against me. Their accusations included poor management, poor preaching, and irrelevant worship services. Having been members for decades, their criticisms swayed others. Finally, they left the ministry.

What happened? I become the sin bearer. They deposited their sin onto me and then chose to separate themselves from their sin.

Prepared for Consequences

Conflicts between leaders and those they lead will continue. When one resolves, another disagreement crops up sooner or later. How will the leader respond?

The leader who understands some of the dynamics that take place in this relationship, gains strength and steps away from those who crater and dropout. With preparation and increased understanding, the leader prepares himself for the possible consequences of receiving confidential information.

Since the follower is a companion or co-worker in the struggle, he needs to appreciate the dangers involved in revealing information to a leader. If the follower does not feel forgiven by Jesus Christ, he may desire to place his sin on someone else. The leader could be elected to bear the sin. Awareness of this possibility could prevent disruption in the life of any organization.

Avoid Becoming the Goat

Steps to protection:

1. This book helps you gain a Biblically based understanding of the human need for a sin bearer in the form of a sacrifice or scapegoat.

2. You will experience a growing understanding of the relevant psychological principles that are active when a leader talks with a follower, concentrating on those dynamics that would increase the possibility of a leader becoming a sin bearer.

3. This book offers suggestions on how a leader can help a follower not to treat the leader as a sin bearer.

Arm Yourself

Be armed with knowledge. Inside these pages you will find:

  • A study of the Biblical understanding of the concept of a sin bearer.
  • A survey of some of the dynamics that can take place between a leader and a follower.
  • Practical ways for a leader to avoid becoming a sin bearer.
  • Steps a leader can exercise when a follower projects his sin.

Get the Answers from the Book

In Scripture, the key questions have been answered. This knowledge can be yours. These questions and others can be answered.

1. What is the Biblical understanding of a sin bearer?

2. Why are there two models for a sin bearer in the Old Testament?

3. Why is Jesus the final sin bearer?

4. How can a leader help a follower accept the sacrifice of Jesus Christ?

5. Why does a follower sometimes choose to project his sins onto a leader?

6. What steps can a leader take to prevent a follower from projecting his sins onto a leader?

7. How can a leader train a follower to accept forgiveness from the Lord?

8. How does a follower project his sins onto a leader?

9. Which interpersonal dynamics set a leader up to become a sin bearer?

10. How can people be educated to assist others in dealing with sin issues in their lives?

11. How does prayer help individuals to internalize forgiveness?

12. Which listening skills should a leader develop in order to avoid becoming a sin bearer?

Understand the Language

Be further prepared by understanding the terminology. Here are several terms which will be used repeatedly.

Atonement – the act of satisfaction given for wrongdoing or injury.

Conflict Management – the process of working out a relationship between two or more persons who seek goals that cannot be simultaneously attained under the prevailing conditions.

Forgiveness – to give up resentment or the desire to punish.

Karpman Triangle – a transactional analysis model that sees three roles that are assumed in an interaction or communication that is used to provoke or to invite others to respond in specific ways, thus reinforcing the child’s early psychological positions. These three roles are persecutor, victim, and rescuer.

Projection – the process of unwittingly attributing ones own traits, attitudes or subjective processes onto another.

Defense Mechanism – operates unconsciously, so that which is emotionally unacceptable in the self is unconsciously rejected and attributed to or projected onto others.

Sacrifice – is the act of offering the life of a person or animal, or some object, in propitiation of or homage to God.

Scapegoat – a goat over whose head the high priest of the ancient Jews confessed the sins of the people on the Day of Atonement, after which it was allowed to escape. Within this study, the scapegoat will be seen as a person, group, or thing upon whom the blame for the mistakes or crimes of others is thrust. Following the sin “inoculation”, the scapegoat leaves or others try to get away from it.

Script – can be briefly defined as life plan, very much like a dramatic stage production, that an individual feels compelled to play out. A script is related to the early decisions and the positions taken by a child. It is in the child ego state and is “written” through the transactions between a child and his parents. The games that are played are part of the script. When the positions and games are identified, a person can become more aware of his script.”

Sin Bearer – a person, object, or animal on which the sin(s) of someone else is placed. The person or persons on whom the sin or sins is placed is the sacrifice.

Transference – the displacing of feelings from one object or person to another. For example, the client transfers the hatred he feels towards his father onto his analyst.

Why a Sacrifice?

The age old question begs an answer: Is there a God shaped void in all of us? Do all people – regardless of origin – recognize on some level, even a subconscious one, the need for someone to do for us what we cannot do for ourselves? Is sacrifice necessary?

Click here to order Sacrifice the Leader in paperback.

The majority of these prayers are included in our book Generational Prayers – 2022 Edition, which is available in paperback and eBook formats. Visit this page for details.

Come Up Higher and the Exploring Heavenly Places book series provide biblical explanations of our prayers. Visit our bookstore for more information.

These prayers are not a quick fix. Instead, they are starting points as you work out your freedom in Christ. Be ready to adjust these prayers as you and those you pray with listen to the Holy Spirit.

Permission is given to print this prayer in its entirety provided that no changes are made. In addition, please reference Aslan’s Place and on all reproductions. This prayer may not be reproduced in publications without written consent from Aslan’s Place.

About Paul L. Cox

Paul L. Cox is co-director of Aslan’s Place, a ministry center dedicated to bringing freedom and wholeness to the wounded and captive. It also brings training and equipping to the body of Christ for spiritual warfare. Paul is a graduate of the California Graduate School of Theology where he earned his Doctorate of Ministry degree. As an ordained American Baptist pastor Paul ministered at several churches as senior pastor. He is committed to prayer ministry that brings freedom through generational deliverance. In order to share the revelation and insights the Holy Spirit has imparted, he and his wife, Donna founded Aslan’s Place in 1999. This facility in Apple Valley, California not only serves as an individual ministry center, but also a training and seminar center. Many people are growing in freedom an d the Holy Spirit as a result of ministry at Aslan’s Place. The ministry given is Biblically based and Holy Spirit led. As a result of their heart for the nations, Paul and Donna have also had the privilege of ministering at many of the major ministry centers around the world such as Rivergate Church, Tulsa, Oklahoma, Toronto Airport Christian Fellowship, Canada, Hope for Munich, Germany and several others worldwide. Aslan’s Place has also participated in several mission outreaches to Argentina. It is Paul's heart to continue to learn from the Holy Spirit and the body of Christ and to share openly what the Spirit is teaching him.