In leadership and in life, loyalty is one of the great, essential virtues.
We often forget that simple truth in the cynical age in which we live. Our society is so rife with corrupt leaders and so hostile to the concept of authoritative truth that loyalty is often perceived as a weakness rather than a merit. Rebellion and defiance have been canonized as virtues instead. “Who can find a faithful man?” (Proverbs 20:6).
But Scripture exalts loyalty. Loyalty is owed, first of all, to the Lord and to His truth, but also to those who stand for the truth. Second Chronicles 16:9 says, “The eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show Himself strong on behalf of those whose heart is loyal to Him.”
On the other hand, disloyalty is among the most repugnant of all evils. Judas sinned because he was a traitor. He had no loyalty to Christ, although he had been a privileged friend and close companion for years. No sin in all of Scripture is more despicable than Judas’s traitorous act of treachery. Jesus Himself classed Judas’s wickedness as more wretched than that of Pilate (John 19:11).
What do we mean by loyalty? Authentic loyalty is not blind devotion to a mere man. It is, first of all, an allegiance to truth and duty. But it involves devotion to the obligations of love and friendship as well. It is among the most godly and godlike of virtues, because God Himself is eternally faithful (2 Timothy 2:13; 1 Thessalonians 5:24; 2 Thessalonians 3:3).
That’s why loyalty is essential to leadership. The wise leader cultivates loyalty by being loyal—loyal to the Lord, loyal to the truth, and loyal to the people he leads. Nothing is more destructive to leadership than the leader who compromises his own loyalty.
I have a very hard time hearing criticism of people who are under my leadership, because I am committed in my heart to being loyal to them. My instinct is to defend them. I always seek to give them the benefit of the doubt. My love for them includes an earnest desire to assume the best of them. After all, that is how love is expressed: “Love suffers long and is kind . . . is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things” (1 Corinthians 13:4–7).
Leadership hinges on trust, and trust is cultivated by loyalty. When it comes to godly leadership, the goal for leaders is clear—our hearts have to be in our people, and our people have to be in our hearts.