This weekend is usually an exciting time for me. You see, I’m a Patriots' fan and for the better part of the last two decades my New England Patriots would be set to enter the NFL playoffs - most likely one of the favorites to advance to the Super Bowl.
But not this year. For the first time since the 2000 season my team ended the schedule with a losing record. No playoffs. No hope for another title. But they are still my team. (And by the way, I am not rooting for Tom Brady. He is not a Patriot. He’s nothing but a traitor. In fact, I hope Tampa Bay loses in the first round. But I have no hard feelings about this).
The Pats were my team long before this incredible run and they will be my team even if the next two decades bring nothing but mediocrity. I’m not like those front-runners. People who switch from team to team depending on performance. Those people really annoy me. One year they’re sporting Chief’s gear. The year before that they were Warrior fans. The year before that they were all about the Broncos. And on and on it goes. Every year a new team. That’s not my style. Pick a team and stick with them. It’s called loyalty.
I may be way off target with this loyalty to sports thinking, but I do think I’m onto something. Even if you are one those dreadful front runners, shouldn’t there be some things that we remain loyal to? Aren’t there some things that we should pledge our devotion to and, no matter what, maintain that devotion? Aren’t there some causes, institutions, and people that we should stick with even if they have an occasional slump, or even a bad decade or two?
Years ago, in one of my first real jobs I was offered a retirement plan. The company would match a portion of my contribution and I was promised that in time the money would grow. If I remained loyal, I would have something saved for retirement.
That sounded good. But I remember getting my first quarterly report. It was a small amount, but I had lost money. This was not what I was promised. My money was supposed to grow, not shrink. Panicking, I called the number of the agent. I can still recollect his calm and reassuring voice telling me that these things happen. Sometimes you will make money, sometimes you will lose money. But no need to jump ship. Your loyalty will pay off. In short, he said, “Give it time.”
What loyalties in your life are being challenged? Are you ready to give up on someone or something? Are you about ready to change team jerseys?
I’m not saying that we need to be loyal to everything and everyone for ever and ever. But loyalty to the right things, right causes, and right people often have a way of delivering huge dividends. Stay loyal to those things.