Honouring the Truth-teller – part three

March 17, 2003

This is the third of a three-part series by Dr. Roger W. Sapp.

When Loyalty Overcomes Truthfulness
Loyalty and truthfulness are two covenant values that must be held in tension against one another. Loyalty binds us together. The truth sets us free. If one value is emphasized over the other, then serious problems develop and both values will become distorted. If loyalty is overemphasized, then only affirmation will be given and heard as feedback. If truth telling is practiced without love and without loyalty, it does not build but tears down. If truthfulness is considered a fundamental component of loyalty, then the organization will be built on integrity.

If loyalty is considered a fundamental component of truthfulness, then the organization will have true unity. Often in an organization, whether it is the local church, a business, a denomination, or a fellowship of churches, loyalty becomes the overriding value and begins to overcome truthfulness. This is often revealed in private words, actions and attitudes rather than the official position of the organization. The leaders of an organization may say that they value truthfulness but reveal in their actions that this is not really so. There are several predictable results when this happens:

Truth-Tellers are Unappreciated
Individuals who strongly value honesty and truthfulness are unappreciated, and often rejected as disloyal. Some people are particularly oriented to truthfulness and may be seen as not being team players by those who highly value loyalty. This may create a value conflict in the organization between the truth-tellers and those who highly prize loyalty. The loyalty value normally wins over truthfulness in these kinds of situations because those in authority will often value loyalty over truthfulness. When the loyalty value wins over truth, it often takes the form of a suppression of free expression, particularly dissent. This does not make the elements of truth in dissent go away; truth will surface again and again in different, even more destructive forms, until it is dealt with properly. This is precisely why political tyrants are unable to completely silence free expression and why they feel the need to silence it. The truth will find a way to express itself simply because it is the truth and God stands behind it.

Unintentional Training of Subordinates
Every time loyalty wins over truthfulness, loyal individuals are unintentionally trained by the leadership to hide the truth or to put an organizational spin on it. Truthful individuals are trained that they are not really welcome. Perceptions are created that success and promotion in the organization comes by telling the leadership what they want to hear rather than the truth. Loyal yes men can seem to become valued over those who have strong individual integrity and truthfulness.

Maintenance of a False Righteousness
The loyalty-based local church or any organization can defend its righteousness at a high cost to the reputation of individuals. Often the organization fails to deal with its failures in a scriptural way. Instead the organization may blame its failures on the person it failed, even unfairly damaging the person’s reputation. The truth is sacrificed to the need of the organization to maintain a false appearance of not making any serious mistakes. Organizational problems are defended when they are brought to light by distorting the truth by putting an organizational spin on it. In contrast, the balancing value of truth persuades all Kingdom organizations to repent, confess their failures, fix their problems and seek forgiveness of the persons that they failed. When failures are handled in a godly way, grace, forgiveness and mercy flow into relationships and healing occurs. When the organization defends its failures at the cost of the reputation of individuals, then it becomes a revolving door type of organization.

Revolving Door Organizations
Weakness in the value of truthfulness produces a revolving door type of organization over a period of time. Individuals come into the organization, then after perceiving the truth, they try to adjust the organization or adjust to the organization. Often after becoming disillusioned by the reality, they leave the organization. Those who do stay long-term within the organization may also prize loyalty above truth. However, because problems are hidden and often neglected, they create hidden turmoil and strife for these people as well. Hidden disunity becomes a way of life for the loyal members of the organization. They tolerate each other for the sake of the organization. Only open conflict is considered disunity after a time.

Key Leaders in Crisis
The revolving door organization becomes a house of cards over a period of time because of hidden problems and disunity. A key leader may have a profound dealing from the Spirit of Truth and wake up to the seriousness of the organization’s hidden problems. This can create a destructive crisis between leaders as a key leader begins to speak the truth in a loyalty-based organization. Truth must be highly valued or the integrity of an organization becomes weakened and cannot maintain its membership. Loyalty alone cannot keep an organization together. Truth will always be necessary for long-term success.

Reputation Saturation Points
The reputation of the organization will begin to suffer for failure to listen to the truth. Many people will come through the revolving door over a period of time. They will know the details of the problems of the organization and the organization’s capacity to hide or to put a spin on them. They may have become embittered by the organization sacrificing their reputations to maintain its own. The organizational growth stops and begins a long and steady decline because of reaching a reputation saturation point with many people speaking badly about the organization’s treatment of individuals and failure to deal with problems. The loyalty-based organization, however, will be blind to the real reasons for its decline. This is because it has few truth-tellers anymore. Its spiritual eyes have been dishonored and are now gone. It will offer alternative explanations and shift the blame once again.

Sincere Relationships in the Church
The concept of sincerity may be the best blend of the values of loyalty and truthfulness. A sincere person is a person who out of loyalty to God and others speaks the truth without mixture. The word sincere comes from the Latin word sincerus. It literally means without wax. This word comes from the time when the Romans were building great buildings using marble columns to support the weight of these monumental buildings. The builders would go to the marble cutters in the quarries and inspect the columns. The cutters would put wax in the cracks of columns to make them deceptively appear to be solid in order to sell them. The builders could only use the sincere columns to build with. The columns that were what they appeared to be, that were actually solid, without wax hiding cracks, were the only thing that would sustain the weight of the building. If a builder built a building using a column that lacked sincerity, the entire building could fall down. The parallels are evident. The Spirit of Truth needs sincere people to build the Church; people that value loyalty and truthfulness in harmony with each other.

Till next week,

Jeff Fountain

Till next week,


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