Family and Relationship

What does loyalty in friendship really mean?

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We live in a world where selfishness seems to be the rule of the day, and personal gain the objective of most relationships and endeavors. One of the most honorable character traits a person can develop is the ability to be loyal, whether to family, friends, an employer, or clubs and organizations to which we may belong.

Understand what being loyal means. You must be willing to allow your own interests to take second place to be truly loyal to another person or cause. Loyalty is simply the act of putting someone or something else ahead of one’s self.

Be willing to sacrifice. Being loyal in a patriot sense, as in loyal to one’s country, has placed millions in harm’s way in wars throughout history. The people who serve in the modern military are loyal to their nation, its flag, and the purpose they serve for. Being loyal to a friend or your own family can also require sacrifice.
Take time to look at the needs of whomever will have your loyalty. To take steps of loyalty, you need to recognize that it is a deliberate effort, and to be truly loyal to someone, you have to be willing to invest yourself, your time and energy in them.

Ask yourself if what or who you are offering your loyalty to is worthy of the investment. Is the person or organization who asks for your loyalty worthwhile? Depending on what philosophy or religion you may follow, you might find guidance there. In the Judeo-Christian religion, the order of loyalty may be summed up as “God, Family, and Country”, putting loyalty to God first, then family, and finally, country.

Consider the benefits of loyalty. This may be most obvious in the case of employment. Being a loyal employee often creates its own rewards, with increases in pay, job security, and respect from your employer. Being a loyal employer, who is willing to look after your employees, will give them incentive to be more dedicated and productive for you.

Weigh the costs of being loyal. You should always structure the hierarchy of your loyalties according to your valuation of their importance. If being loyal to a group or club causes you social ostracism or creates negative influence in your family or other social circumstance, it may not be worthwhile to continue that loyalty.

Balance your loyalties with the day-to-day needs of your own life and your family. Being loyal to a volunteer group or social organization at the expense of taking time for your family may result in suffering loss in your personal relationships.

Look for reward and appreciation in your efforts to be loyal. Being loyal to an unappreciative person or group is not very rewarding, and although this implies a selfish motivation for your loyalty, it is a practical thing to expect the person or group to which you give your loyalty to be loyal to you in return.

Keep a realistic view of your loyalty, and the costs associated with it.

Be aware that it is not unusual to be rewarded for loyalty and dedication with demands for more and more of your time and energy.

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