One of the most important keys in living a successful life is learning the principles behind loyalty. We live in a generation which has largely forgotten the principles of loyalty – and therefore has forgotten the keys to qualification to success. In a day in which people denigrate local churches, rebel against legitimate authority and hate being led; it is important to grasp loyalty.
Loyalty is the number one qualification to minister. An immature person believes that gifting is the door opener to ministry, but that is not true. When you mature, you discover that faithful and loyal people are the best leaders. An immature person would think that being a nice guy makes for the best pastor, that being a skilful orator makes for the best preacher. But the Scripture could not be more clear:
IT IS REQUIRED IN STEWARDS, THAT A MAN BE FOUND FAITHFUL (LOYAL) (1 Corinthians 4.2).
The pastors in the Tree of Life Church network are not promoted for their good looks, friendly nature or preaching gifts. They are promoted because they are loyal. Loyal people are the best gifts a church can have.
Jesus said that you will know you are His disciples not by gifting or anointing but by love. Loyalty is a form of love – and people are attracted to loyal people. Church people are not blind. They are not deaf. They can tell if you are discordant. They can feel if you are disloyal. If the water is murky – the sheep will not go near it. And then you are frustrated that you are not moving forward in ministry, but you don’t know there is no crocodile in the waters unless they are still waters.
There are several manifestations of disloyalty but the main one is criticism. Disloyalty leads to you noticing and magnifying faults. In the church you find fault with the preaching, with the order of service, with the building, with the systems, with the people, with the structure of the church.
Just like Miriam became critical of Moses: it was by following Moses she got free from Egypt. It was by following Moses she was no longer a slave. It was by Moses that she was redeemed. But now all she could see was Moses’ faults and flaws. She spoke out publicly about Moses’ marriage. She criticised him out loud. Disloyalty has a voice.
“And Miriam spoke against Moses” (Numbers 12.1)
Disloyal people are like eagles’ looking for faults. Scrutinizing the church to find fault. They create an atmosphere that can break a church into pieces. Disloyalty can destroy a church faster than anything else. If people are insecure and aren’t comfortable in a place, they will rather than look at themselves and challenge themselves will look for someone to blame. That happens a lot in churches – if you are pastor, don’t beat yourself up over it. Don’t try and please everyone – that’s called the number one way to ensure you never have a church over 100. People will always threaten to leave if you take their ministry away, change to songs they don’t like, or lead them forward.
Your point of view depends on your viewpoint. If you are looking for faults you will find them. If you are looking with critical eyes you will always find something to criticise. If you look with loving eyes, you will always find something to love.
Absalom could only see the deficiencies of David’s kingship. But the problem was in his eyes.
Doctors make oaths to respect their teachers, but people in churches sometimes get a little success and a little promotion and forget who loved them there, who helped them there, who taught them what they know. The deception of disloyalty is that it makes people think they don’t need leadership anymore, that they don’t need help, that God’s structures don’t work because of a small problem in the system.
Our goal in the Tree of Life Church is to create a culture of loyalty. That we all have a reverence and genuine love for leadership. That we grasp what it takes to move forward as the body of Christ.
So, how can we develop that culture. Here are three simple keys that will help you develop a culture of loyalty:
1. The NORTH WIND face
“The north wind drives away rain; so does an angry face drive away a biting tongue” (Proverbs 25.23)
The first key is when you hear someone biting, someone running down the church, the leaders, the people, the building, the service: give them a facial expression that shuts them up. Show someone clearly you are not interested in their gossip and their conversation. This will deter most of the problem straight away. This will create a culture of loyalty and unity. If people realize disloyal talk is not welcome, then they will cease from it.
Sometimes disloyal talk is about flattering you to put someone else down. Don’t fall for it. “Oh the only reason I am at this church is because of you” is nice to hear but it will puff you up and divide the church. Give them a withering look. It works!
They said of David he killed his tens of thousands when he had only killed one. Don’t fall for your own press!
Gossip is a KILLER. We still haven’t accepted it, we still don’t believe it. We happily roast people for dinner and happy go out for coffee and feast on the bones of our colleagues, family and church members.
2. Don’t go somewhere your heart isn’t in
If you are in a church, especially if in leadership, and your heart isn’t in it, remove your body as well. It helps! You can’t change a church from within, you can only split it!
“A LITTLE LEAVEN LEAVENS THE WHOLE LUMP” (1 Cor. 5.6)
One disgruntled elder can pollute the whole church. Never manipulate people to stay in your Living Church, in your group, in the Tree of Life if their heart is gone. Let them go. It’s that simple.
Some pastors are too soft to remove disloyal, grumbling, divisive people. They don’t protect the sheep from being polluted.
I’m not talking about leaving because you are having a carnal fit. People do that to churches all the time. I’m talking about you know the vision isn’t your vision but you are there to “help” the leadership. Get over yourself – God has a place for you where you will fit in – it won’t be perfect but it will be real. Most people don’t leave when their visions clash, but hold on until they are well and truly offended, storm off and never go to church again. Get a grip – harness those emotions and realize who you are!
3. Set fire to some stuff
In Acts 28 they built a fire, and a snake came out of the fire when it was lit. They picked up a snake thinking it was a harmless stick. But when the fire came the snake jumped out.
Some people look lovely and harmless and wonderful, but when fire comes you find out they are snakes. You change a procedure, ban a certain song, don’t let them lead something the way they want to and they bite. Trials and difficulties reveal people’s nature. The truth is that anyone who wants to do God’s will ends up getting bitten – it happened to Jesus, to Paul, to all people.
Do not be in a hurry to promote people. Try not promoting them – try taking their responsibilities away from them for a while. That kind of fire reveals people’s hearts. If they were disloyal because you didn’t promote them, rejoice – they would have taken the position and used it as a platform to be disloyal.
A person’s reaction to change is a revelation of their character.
These THREE things will help all of us walk in the unity that God has for us. There is a lot in this post, but if you take it to heart it will lift you and help you be all you can be.