Our elementary school character education program is built around 16 character principles. One of those essential character traits is loyalty, and I believe it’s undervalued in today’s world. Loyalty, like responsibility, perseverance, and honesty, is a fundamental and foundational component of character, so it should come as no surprise that we endeavor to teach it to our children.
Unfortunately, as an adult, I don’t hear much about loyalty, and when I do, it’s often used in a negative sense. “Oh, he’s just blindly loyal.” “She’s loyal to a fault.” “He is too loyal to the such-and-such administration.”
We must understand that true loyalty isn’t about blind trust. Loyalty is not standing by the person committing a fraudulent crime. It’s not yoking yourself to something bad. Loyalty being faithful and devoted to someone or something. Wouldn’t we all like more of that?
If you’re a business, you need loyal employees and customers.
Nonprofits need loyal volunteers and loyal donors.
Churches need loyal members, committed to loving one another.
And we all need loyal friends willing to stick with us, especially when times are tough.
It’s true that loyalty is easy when things are good, but it’s when loyalty costs us something that it’s most valuable.
When I’m an employee, it’s easy to be loyal to my company when I have no other options. As a customer, it’s easy to be loyal when I have never had a problem. As a church member, it’s easy to be loyal when I have never been offended. As a friend, it’s easy to be loyal when no one has disappointed me. But when the rubber meets the road, true loyalty stands out.
Loyalty is important. So how do we cultivate it? How do we earn the loyalty of others?
In the TV show Designated Survivor, there’s a time when everything is crumbling around the president. There’s a specific scene where the people closest to him stand by him even though it would be personally more advantageous for them to abandon him. When the president asks his Vice President why she remained supportive during this dark time, her response was simple and compelling: “Your staffs’ loyalty to you through everything. Loyalty is a consequence of leadership.”
I love that. A consequence is a result or a payment. Therefore, loyalty is the result of something you earn when you lead well. If you are a good leader, a strong leader, a servant leader, you earn the loyalty of those around you.
The easiest way to cultivate loyalty in the tough times is to lead well. This week, intentionally find ways you can better care for the people you’re leading. Ask them good questions. Care for their needs. Let them see you make decisions based off of your good character, not convenience.
If you do that, when the hard times come, you might learn that you’ve earned their loyalty as a consequence of that leadership.
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