The smallest of differences can often have the largest impact.
I find this to be true about faithfulness and loyalty.
When one confuses the two, the consequences can be severe. Culture often, if not always, merges these two drastically different words into the same. Yet one who is loyal can many times experience something totally other than one who is faithful.
Loyalty is the commitment or dedication to a brand, person, or other entity because of something that has been experienced in the past. You are loyal to a boss who supported you financially in a past season of need. You are loyal to a mother who gave you a roof over your head as a child growing up. You are loyal to the Detroit Lions or Chicago Cubs, because at some point (even if it was way too long ago) they gave you a reason to celebrate with the city.
Loyalty is formed because at some point, in some season, someone or something was very good to you. It is a indebted kind of of commitment based on the past.
Faithfulness on the other hand is a different kind of dedication. Those who are faithful have full belief (or faith) in the person they are committed to. It isn’t a commitment brought about my something that has happened in the past, but who that person is and who they trust that they will continue to be.
There is such fulness of faith in that person, that the dedication isn’t based solely on something that occurred in the past, but also in the present, and in the future.
The two are very different.
One produces backward-looking, guilt-filled obligation, while the other produces a passion-infused dedication to the future.
One “does” until obligation is fulfilled, the other “does” above and beyond out of joy for what was, what is, and what has yet to come.
One stays in fear, while the other goes in both freedom and gratitude.
This is why we must have faith in Christ, instead of simply being loyal to the Christian culture our parents created or loyal to a religion.
I have met prostitutes who wouldn’t leave the street because of a loyalty to their pimp. I have met employees beaten down and emotionally abused in the work place because at some point the organization was “good to them”. Loyalty can be good, but it can also kill.
Faithfulness on the other-hand is freeing. It sends us on a wild journey compelled by gratitude, covered in grace, allowing us to cherish the past while being hope-filled and optimistic about the future.
Leaders, you will either crave loyal followers or faithful ones. You will either inform to control, or you will equip to release.
May we live and lead out of our faithfulness, showing the world the massive difference between the two, calling people out of one so they may fully experience the freedom of the other.