Dr. Mark Rutland, president of Oral Roberts University in Tulsa, Okla., served as guest editor for Ministry Today's September/October 2011 issue on leadership. Known for his remarkable ability to turnaround struggling organizations, Rutland is often sought after for leadership training and has written several books published by Charisma House and Creation House, including Hanging by a Thread; Nevertheless; Dream; Power; Holiness; Resurrection; Most Likely to Succeed; and Character Matters.

Below is a free chapter on "loyalty" from Character Matters, which Rutland says is one of his best.

Loyalty: Character in Community

Only once in American history did the head of state of a foreign government surrender his position and the sovereignty of his own nation to unite with the United States—the Republic of Texas, and its president, Sam Houston.

Adventurer, frontiersman, general and politician, Sam Houston's name was a household word in Texas and in the United States when Abraham Lincoln was an unknown backwoods lawyer. It is fascinating to note that the Texas Declaration of Independence was signed on Houston's forty-third birthday, March 2, 1836. Houston and his army of ragtag volunteers defeated the might of a massive Mexican army and established a fledgling nation whose capital was called Washington-on-the-Brazos. Like George Washington, Houston, the beloved general, became the revered first president of the wild and sprawling new nation of Texas.

Less than thirty years later, Texas, now a state, debated whether to join the Confederacy in secession or to remain with the Union it had voluntarily entered in 1845. The vast majority raucously demanded secession. One voice, Houston's, cried out for national loyalty.

The elder statesman of Texas stumped the state to the point of exhaustion with this message: "The destruction of the Union would be the destruction of all the states."

Shunned by young hotheads eager for war and dismissed by a new generation, Houston's pleas for national loyalty were ignored. If Texas had listened, tragedy might have been averted. The refusal of Texas to join the Confederacy might well have dissuaded other states, and the bloodiest nightmare in American history might have been avoided. Unfortunately, Houston's cry to remain in the Union was rejected. Houston, now fatigued and discouraged, must have sensed he was failing physically as well as politically.

"I wish if this Union must be dissolved, that its ruins may be the monument of my grave, and the graves of my family. I wish no epitaph to be written to tell that I survived the ruin of this glorious Union."

Pressure mounted on the old warrior to take the oath of allegiance to the Confederacy, but Houston's loyalty held. He refused, knowing that it meant the certain end of his political career in the South and the ostracism of his family. For Houston, loyalty to his nation was stronger than any hope of a political future. He steadfastly refused the oath.

"In the name of the Constitution of Texas, which has been trampled upon, I refuse to take this oath. I love Texas too well to bring civil strife and bloodshed upon her."

He saw the beginning of the bloodshed he prophesied, but he did not survive to see its conclusion. Houston was hurt by the rejection of his leadership, deeply saddened by the horrible Civil War, but unaltered in his devotion to his nation. Sam Houston was a Texan, the Texan, but he was, above all things, a loyal American.

An ounce of loyalty is worth a pound of cleverness.—ELBERT HUBBARD

Ministry Today Subscription Special - Subscribe to Ministry Today magazine today and get 12 issues (2 full years) plus Amplified Leadership, a free leadership book for only $24.

Order Life in the Spirit to actively grow your ministry in the power of the Holy Spirit. Your congregation will stay saturated in God's Word, learn to hear His voice, understand their purpose and calling and move into an active role in your ministry.

  • Jentezen Franklin encourages church leaders to encourage their flocks to vote their values.

    Why We Must Count the Cost—and Vote

    There is a propaganda war that is raging in this country, and it is full of manipulation, lies, ...

  • Pastors, do you see anything familiar on this list?

    10 Habits You Should Think About Dropping

    If you recognize these patterns in yourself, take an inventory.

  • Life.Church is at it again with its ever-expanding free technology.

    Life.Church Open Network Launches to Further Equip Church Leaders

    Life.Church adds to a decade of generosity by expanding its free resources.

  • Have you ever had a cringe moment during your church announcements?

    The 7 Deadly Sins of Church Announcements

    Sometimes they just miss the mark, albeit unintentionally.

  • Start a Wildfire of Spiritual Growth in Your Church

    Start a Wildfire of Spiritual Growth in Your Church

    Watch how God can take one spark and turn it into a wildfire that impacts your ministry, your community and even future generations.

  • Peace is indeed attainable in this selfish world. Just look for it in the right place.

    Finding Peace in a Fallen and Selfish World

    You can have peace in this world. Just stop looking in the wrong places.

  • Praying for leaders

    Failing to Do This Can Spell Disaster for the Church

    And it has the potential to destroy many lives.

  • Church members argue

    12 Reasons Church Staff Conflict May Arise

    This is not unique, but among these there are some that seem more pervasive than others.

  • Some of these reasons for leaving the church are simply not plausible.

    7 Reasons People Leave Their Church During Crisis Times

    Some of the excuses are pretty extreme and, quite frankly, lazy.

Use Desktop Layout
Ministry Today Magazine — Serving and empowering church leaders