I have been meditating on one sentence of that prayer lately. Jesus said in that prayer, "For them I sanctify myself that they too might be truly sanctified" (John 17:19). One definition of the word sanctify means "to set apart as holy, for religious purposes or for God." Another definition states, "to free from sin, to purify." We don't use that word often. But when we seek to get rid of a sinful habit, we aim to be sanctified. When we give money to the church, we sanctify it; we give it to God for his purposes.
The last thing we would think of is that Jesus needed to be sanctified. We consider him sinless, so how would he need to be free from sin? I am not writing to you about how Jesus would sanctify himself, though it is an interesting question. (Yes, I am avoiding that issue for now.)
I am writing because Jesus set us an example of how to live. His goal was to sanctify himself, so that those who were in his sphere of influence might be sanctified. His goal was to aim high, so that those in his sphere of influence would aim high. This is something for all of us, not just leaders. I have different roles: husband, father, greenhouse worker, shuttle bus driver, and pastor, to name a few. In each one of these roles I have a sphere of influence, whether I recognize it or not, so do you. If I imitate the example of Jesus, I need to aim high in each of my roles so that each one in my spheres of influence will aim high also. I need to set myself apart for God, so that those around me will set themselves apart for God.
If I don't want my sons to have anger control them, then I should not allow anger to control me. If I want my fellow co-workers to be more joyful, I need to be more joyful. If I want my congregation to have a personal relationship with Jesus, then I need to have a personal relationship with Jesus. Jesus calls us to set the pace for those around us through his example. He prays for this. Rather than complain about other people's behavior, an all too common action, let us pray for ourselves. Let's pray that God will sanctify us, so that our sphere of influence will also be sanctified.