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.

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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

Dr. Mark Rutland's

National Institute of Christian Leadership (NICL)

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