So far, we have discussed how to stay loyal, how to engender loyalty and that loyalty truly is the number one component to a successful ministry. Today we are going to focus on the quality of loyalty – what it looks like and how to recognize it.
The truth that everyone must realize is that if loyalty is one of the key ingredients of a successful life then loyalty will always always always be challenged and tested. When your loyalty to someone is attacked or challenged or rocked, you need to consider what information you have, where it comes from and you also need to consider your own heart too.
Firstly, you must analyze the past. Paul to Timothy “Wherefore I put thee in remembrance that thou stir up the gift of God, which is in thee by the putting on of my hands” (2 Tim. 1.6). In other words, Paul said “Timmy, remember your gift comes from me and my ministry.” Timothy was a young man in danger of deviating from his call and losing his destiny. So Paul reminded him of the past. You too need to consider your past. Remember the things the Spirit has shown you. Remember the people who prayed for you when your marriage was a mess, when you lost your job, when things looked bleak. Most people are disloyal because they don’t think about the past.
I will never forget how inspired I was by Will Graham, pastor of Victory Church International, as I heard him preach for the first time in August 1998. As I heard him preach about his vision of church planting and impacting Europe for the gospel and God’s unconditional love, and having conferences that invited the entire five fold. I fell in love with the message and I will always honour the man. That sermon is re-played in my mind again and again. I remember that message. Because of that I am loyal to Will- – he is always the first person I invite to our conferences. What you remember determines your loyalty. If you are disloyal it is often because you have forgotten where your gifts and vision came into flame and who helped you fan the flames.
A few years ago someone told me to be careful around a certain preacher because they lacked integrity. I laughed and told them “you don’t realize that this person is my friend, we go back a long time.” I am not going to listen to mindless gossip about my friends – it’s called loyalty. How do I do it? I remember how that person has helped me, counseled me, been there at 2am when I was falling apart. Remember who stirred your gifts up! Remember who imparted wisdom to you!
Secondly, you need to analyze the person. Paul told TImothy: “continue in the things you have learned… knowing of whom thou hast learned them” (2 Tim. 3.14). When people invent seditious stories and slanderous reports, think carefully about what they are saying. Analyze the person concerned and see if it makes sense. Someone accused me of being in ministry for the money. If you believed that you failed to use your brain: you failed to analyze! I had a place in five different universities to study medicine, I had a lucrative career in the city, I was offered a phenomenal job writing computer code, I was offered a place on a think tank. There are many different ways I could have earned more money than what I do right now. I did not give up on several awesome careers to be counting people’s pennies and making a living that way for the money – I did it because of the call on my life. A little analysis would show this to be obvious!
Paul told Timothy: “you know my doctrine, manner of life, purpose, faith, longsuffering, charity, patience, persecutions, afflictions…” (2 Tim. 3.10f). It amazes me when people who know you personally are swayed by someone who doesn’t know you at all. They forget your generosity, they forget your goodness, they forget the hours you spent loving them, praying for them, how much money you gave them, how you have put up with things over and over and fixate on a bit of gossip and end up being disloyal. Loyalty comes from analysis, disloyalty comes from a carnal reaction. Before being disloyal, stop, think, and think again.
Nearly every minister – in fact every person – I have heard negative things about when I finally got to know them I found they were nothing like the rumours. Get to know people personally!
Thirdly, analyze the words you hear someone speaking. “Hold fast the sound words, which you hast heard of me” (2 Tim. 1.13). You must always double check what you hear a pastor preaching or anyone saying to you. Is it accurate? Is it Biblical? Also think about what someone is saying now compared to what they used to say – some start off on the Bible then deviate and go onto some seriously weird teachings. When a preacher defects from the Word, you should defect from that preacher. When the church leaves the Word (and goes into barking, clucking, screaming, shaking and whatever), then leave that church! We have to consider people: are they honest, are they gossips, are they critical, are they mean? Analyze! Consider!
Analyze the people bringing rumours and gossip – are they silly, mean people? Are they living for Christ, are they ministering with life and fruit? If not, why listen to their gossip and rumours? Why let unfruitful people stop you being fruitful?
The reason many people are unfruitful is because they don’t stop and analyze what is going on. They forget people, they think wrong things because they are moved by rumours and so on. The lie runs around the world before the truth is even dressed. The weeds grow faster than the grass – but stand on the Word, analyze what is going on and make good choices. That way leads to success.
Stay tuned for next week’s article where we develop the theme of loyalty more and discuss the Seeds of Disloyalty and how to recognize them. That is going to really help pastors and leaders – please let them know about this blog!