Posted by: JennyRain | January 13, 2010

On the Fence: Split Loyalties

This thing I have been wrestling with all week can perhaps be encapsulated in two words: Split-Loyalties.

An oxymoron of sorts because can our loyalties really be “split”? Does not the very word “loyalty” imply that we have to make a choice between one thing or another?

Or perhaps there is some type of “loyalty hierarchy” that we operate in. Similar to a “values-hierarchy” where our most important values come first on the list of values, a loyalty-hierarchy would indicate which of our loyalties are the most important based on where in the list we place each item.

In sorting out my conundrum this week, I have had to weigh my loyalties and take a good look at them…

I am loyal to God – and want to express honor to Him through my actions.

I believe in honoring and maintaining loyalty to my family (the new family I am creating with my husband and also my family of origin).

 I am loyal to and seek to honor the authority (church/leaders) where God has placed me.

I want to honor the people that God has placed in my path to serve.

I want to honor my own identity in Christ – including the values, beliefs, feelings (who I am) – so that I am not violating my own conscience.

So what happens when all of these loyalties collide?

For instance, what if my loyalty to God bumps into my loyalty for my husband? Or what if my loyalty to my husband clashes with my family loyalties? What if two authorities in my life give me conflicting direction? What if a person I am serving is asking for something that is in contrast to what my loyalties to my leaders require? And how do I manage all of these loyalties and remain true to who I am? In other words, how do I not violate my loyalty to myself?

That crash you have heard from around the corner this week – its my colliding loyalties, its not me breaking things again.

These crazy loyalties smacked into each other frequently over the holidays then yesterday I watched them explode into each like teeny-toddlers in bumper-boats.  

It probably would not be such a big deal to me if I did not perseverate so much on loyalty.

See, I want to be loyal to everyone. It is a character trait I have valued about myself since my formative years and I do not want to have to make a choice between opposing parties.

When I decide to befriend someone, I become fiercely loyal and often protective. If I decide to work somewhere, I have been known to be loyal to the detriment of my own career.

The very character and nature of God is loyalty and the people in the Bible who are listed as righteous often have this characteristic of loyalty…

Hebrews 13:6-7: God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you” (God’s loyalty to us)

1 Samuel 18:3: Then Jonathan and David made a covenant, because he loved him as his own soul. (Jonathan and David’s loyalty)

Ruth 1.16-17: Ruth says, “Entreat me not to leave you, or to turn back from following you; For wherever you go, I will go; And wherever you lodge, I will lodge; Your people shall be my people, and your God, my God. Where you die, I will die, and there will I be buried. The LORD do so to me, and more also, if anything but death parts you and me.”  (Ruth’s Loyalty to Naomi)

God and His people are first and foremost loyal… Loyal to God, to each other, and to the faith.

Since stepping into full-time ministry I have found myself becoming very protective and loyal to my leaders and managers because that is an area that I can step into and speak light and life since encouragement is a gift of mine. Quite honestly, it is also because ministry leaders get beat up so often by the public who wants them to be their everything, and much of the criticism that is leveled is much harsher than it needs to be.

I have also learned to choose my “inner circle” of friends by this quality of loyalty and married a man whose best man said of him at the wedding toast,

If there is one thing I can tell you about John, one quality that I respect and love about him, it is this… He is loyal.

 His best man of course had no idea what a positive impact his words would have on my relationship with my hubby 🙂

So where do we draw the line, and who do we choose?

How loyal is too loyal? I do believe there are times when we are so loyal to a cause, a person, or an organization that it is a detriment to our growth. I have had to guard against this in my own life.

Sometimes people or organizations are toxic and loyalty will harm us more than it will help. There are times when we are loyal to others, but are disloyal to ourselves or God, which ends up hurting us in the long run.

Loyalty can be like walking a tightrope at times, but perhaps it is an important tightrope to walk because it is in walking we learn. It is in learning, we grow.

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