Wednesday, May 14, 2008


Lately in circles I have been in there has been a lot of discussion about loyalty. I think we would all agree that loyalty is a good thing and a quality that we should want our lives to be described by. But to what extent should loyalty be paramount in our lives? Without question our loyalty to God must never be compromised for any reason. That is a no-brainer. Certainly, loyalty to our marriage and families is highly important and needed. But where does having a “no compromise” type of loyalty end?

For example, when I lived in a little town in Ohio when Laura and I first got married there was a small privately run grocery store in town that had been there for decades. Soon after we moved into the neighborhood a Super Store called Meijer moved in south of town. Meijer was a one stop shopping location, and because the store was so huge with such a large inventory, their prices were significantly lower than the mom and pop store in town. Does loyalty play a part here? Should we have bypassed the chance to save money at the Super Store in order to be loyal to the smaller grocery store in town since they had been part of the town for so long?

I think that the answer to that is often largely generational. I found that the older generation in town saw it as important to be loyal to the local grocer while those young families from my generation, including myself, made the trip south of town each week to save money. It just may be that there is a different definition of loyalty among generations. Many times this causes tension as one generation sees the other as disloyal when in fact the issue of loyalty is being defined differently by each age group.

Let me give another example. I believe in loyalty to the local church. I have very little respect for church-hoppers who switch churches every two years for no better reason than “they felt like it” or "they got their feelings hurt."On the other hand, I have met some incredible couples of very high spiritual maturity, who after 20 or 25 years attending the same church finally could not take being part of a local body that was dead and had no interest in reaching out to lost people in their community, so they left and started attending a church that was alive and where outreach was a priority. Is this a breech of loyalty? Should they have stayed in their dead church whose track record showed they would never change? Again, I think there is a generational difference. I have found that older generations would tend to stick with their spiritually dead church, even though deep inside they wished they were experiencing worship in an exciting, growing, thriving church. At the same time, younger generations would tend to move on and find a growing local body to attend.

This is a tension we face every day in local church ministry. Should we continue a ministry even though it really isn’t as effective any more as it used to be? If we end it, are we being disloyal to those who are involved in that ministry and to those who started that ministry in the beginning? We’re part of a fellowship of churches that shares the same statement of faith. Does that mean that if we do not participate in everything that the fellowship of churches sponsors that we're being disloyal? The answer to this just might be generational as well.

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