I recently asked myself a couple of questions as it relates to the concept of loyalty. The questions went something like this, "Does loyalty exist today?" and if so, "Does anyone care about it?" then came, "Should I care about it?" Interesting questions for sure, or at least I thought so when I asked them to myself. So, if you will indulge me for a time I would like to spend a few moments and unpack these questions.
It seems to me that loyalty is a word rarely heard in today's vernacular and an even rarer commodity to be demonstrated and experienced. In the fast paced, instant results driven culture we live in, it seems words and their meaning such as loyalty are pushed to the fringe of what is valued, appreciated and even sought after. Even so, this tendency in our culture does not diminish the value of loyalty in my mind and I would go so far as to say when it is seen and experienced it stands out even more thereby bringing a breath of fresh air in the midst of digitized smog. Please understand me, I would much rather have words such as “loyalty” live and breathe at the center of our cultures not on the fringes.
So, let's go back to where we started, these questions materialized in my mind as I reflected upon recent interaction with two long standing ministry partners of The Chapel. I will not mention specific names but these two distinct interactions left a significant and refreshing impression on my mind, heart and soul. These partners of The Chapel demonstrated loyalty to us, and the mission in which we collectively embrace, yet did so by not mentioning the word. Loyalty it seems is best understood through demonstration rather than through articulation.
I am grateful that The Chapel has the privilege to partner with great people and organizations, globally and locally as well as everywhere in between. It is truly a blessing. But other questions came to my mind related to loyalty. How does loyalty come to be? I mean does loyalty just happen or can it be nurtured, influenced or persuaded in people? If so, how? Is this possible to do without manipulation and coercion? So, in the end what does it really take to inspire loyalty in others? I believe there are answers to these questions and we find them in Scripture. As I reflected more and more on this particular topic, I came to the conclusion that loyalty is a product of sound leadership.
“Loyalty and truth preserve the king, And he upholds his throne by righteousness” (Proverbs 20:28 NASB).
The NIV version states the same verse this way, “Love and faithfulness keep a king safe; through love his throne is made secure” (Proverbs 20:28 NIV).
While assuredly we are not kings as in title and position, nor do we pretend to be anything of the sort. If you are redeemed by faith in Christ, you as am I are first and foremost Christ-followers who have gifts, abilities, roles and responsibilities in the Body of Christ which regardless of where and what require some level of leadership. Leadership as in leading of self and then leading others, or as John Maxwell would say, the influencing of others in some fashion. The principles taught in this particular verse (Proverbs 20:28) I believe relate to leadership and more specifically its impact on others. Loyalty is built by loving-kindness, mercy, truth and faithfulness. If you and I want loyalty to follow us as we lead, these qualities need to be demonstrated by us along the way. One cannot buy loyalty for if we try, the mirage we thought was loyalty will evaporate as soon as the benefit given changes. Furthermore, loyalty cannot be forced or demanded based upon authority or influence. This is coercion if not manipulation but surely it is not loyalty.
“Followship” that comes from a heart that says "I have to" is not loyalty, it is something else. Loyalty on the other hand produces a “followship” of the heart that says "I choose to." When people have a choice do they follow you or me? This is loyalty. So a question for you and me is "Are people following us?" If so, are they doing so out of loyalty or for some other reason? Sound leadership will inspire loyalty because it demonstrates love, mercy, truth, and faithfulness. If we focus on those attributes of who we are as we lead we will encourage loyalty in those entrusted to our leadership. While this concept of loyalty has a definite applicability to us as leaders, it also has a very important perhaps the most important meaning to us as followers. In relation to Jesus are you, am I, loyal? Are we following Jesus because we feel we "have to" or because we "choose to?" This is worth reflection and consideration. I pray that you would reflect on this today as it relates to your “followship” of Christ. Are you in the “have to” camp or are you in the “choose to” camp?
“For I delight in loyalty rather than sacrifice, And in the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings” (Hosea 6:6 NASB).
As I close this particular blog entry, I am thankful for our godly partners who demonstrate loyalty—loyalty to God and an appropriate loyalty to their ministry partner. This was refreshing. May we as individuals and as a collective ministry be guilty of the same.