In my work as a leader in organizations and in a church setting, I have seen far too often the devastation that can occur from a lack of loyalty. Marriages and families are destroyed far too often by a husband or wife having an affair or otherwise not keeping their marriage vows. Teenagers and young adults are devastated when their friends are disloyal and betray confidences. Organizations are decimated when trade secrets are shared or employees or leaders are sabotaged.
Nothing divides a group of people more often or more deeply than disloyalty.
Successful fathers make and keep a promise to be loyal to their families. It begins in most families with marital vows to be loving, loyal and consistent. It starts often when a father first holds that new infant in his arms and commits to always be there for him or her and to raise that child to the best of his ability.
But loyalty is often tested most when relationships are not strong. Affairs often begin innocently as one or the other partner creates or accepts a relationship of intimacy that is missing in the covenant relationship of marriage. We can find ourselves with feelings of disloyalty to our children when they don't keep their commitments to us or to our families.
Candidly, our commitment to be loyal is not conditioned on others keeping their commitments to us. But we often use it as an excuse to be disloyal ourselves.
So how do fathers commit to loyalty to their families and then keep their commitment to loyalty?
Successful fathers are loyal to their wives and the mothers of their children. For intact families where father and mother are married, committed fathers are fiercely loyal to their wives or partners. They are completely faithful to her and don't develop intimate relationships with other women.
They even avoid thoughts of infidelity and pornography because it would be an evidence of disloyalty. They speak well of her, even when she is not present. They are anxious for her welfare and sacrifice their own comforts for her as needed.
For men who are no longer married to their children's mothers, loyalty takes on a different meaning. They are no longer bound by marriage vows, but they owe to their children to respect and deal civilly with their mother. Except to protect the children from abuse, they do not demean or degrade her in front of the children. If mom and dad have differences, they work them out in a civil and respectful manner. They compromise when possible and put the long term benefit of the children first. And together, they are loyal to the children.
Successful fathers are loyal to their children. This element of personal loyalty seems self-evident, but can be tough at times. Children can create major trials for us as they rebel against authority, do things that embarrass us or drive wedges between us and others. We may be tempted to complain about them to our friends or to "throw them under the bus" in the presence of their friends. But great dads who make and keep a promise of loyalty are unfailingly committed to their children's long term welfare and treat them respectfully.
They praise in public and discipline in private. When they need parenting help, they get it but they hold their children in high enough esteem that they don't belittle or degrade them in private or in public.
Successful fathers are loyal to their principles. Our society's greatest scorn is reserved for the hypocrite. I read recently of a political leader who privately had an affair while publicly taking on another leader of the rival party whose affair was better known. Loyalty to principle is critical for the credibility of every man, and therefore every father. That which we believe, we must do. We have to walk our talk to be a successful father.
Great fathers have as a root value the principle of loyalty. So take a moment to take the loyalty pledge and keep your commitments!
I promise to be loyal to my family. I will be unfailingly faithful to my marriage covenant and avoid even the thought or imagination of infidelity. I will be loyal to my children and always treat them the way I would want to be treated, keeping their long term benefit uppermost in my mind. And I will walk my talk and be true to the principles I espouse. I will always keep as my first priority the benefit and blessing of my family as their father.