Yesterday I began a five post series that will unpack five of the most powerful gifts a person can ever give and pair each one with a dare to put it into action in your own life. Gift number one was grace. Dare number one was to show it to the person in your life that deserves it the least.

Today’s gift is loyalty.

I’ve met and interacted with thousands of people in my life. Being in pastoral ministry exposes me to more people than most. By and large, most of the folks I’ve known have been wonderful human beings—but I would say that less than 1% of these people have demonstrated true loyalty to me. I’m not talking about obedience, or even submission. Loyalty is different.

Loyalty is the gift of unconditional support. It means having someone’s back when it’s not safe to do so. I say it’s unconditional because loyal friends can disagree with me, even think I’ve totally blown something, but still believe in my heart—which means giving the gift of loyalty does not require being on the same page in every respect. When I give you my loyalty, it means I won’t turn my back on you just because other people are.

Ironically, loyalty isn’t always visible. In fact, Peter’s declaration of undying loyalty, public as it was, died a horrible death at the crow of a rooster. Promises don’t guarantee loyalty, only commitment does. Loyalty isn’t blind, but neither does it wait for perfection to get behind something or someone.

I once worked alongside a leader who took a lot of heat. Much of it was deserved. I literally followed him around and disarmed bombs, placated offended parties, and rephrased his words into what I thought he probably meant to say. Behind closed doors, we disagreed often. Once the doors opened, I never once undermined him. I gave him the gift of loyalty.

Years later, someone who was a part of that mix asked Shauna, “Why did Brad do that?” Her answer? “Because he’s loyal.”

Loyalty finds itself still standing when the dust of battle clears. It puts a hand on another’s shoulder and smiles deeply, saying without words, “I’m still here.” This is big. I’ve had committed leaders say to my face, “You’re on your own on this one. Count me out.” I’ve had people say, “We love you,” and then throw me under the proverbial bus. I’ve had people say lots of inspiring things to me and about me, but it’s the people that do the inspiring things that are the real gifts to my heart. Like Shauna. She married me, and is fiercely loyal despite all my failings and weaknesses, nearly eighteen years later.

Now for the dare. If you’re like me, you’re probably thinking, “Man, it would sure be nice to have some loyal people in my life.” But the call is to be one, not want one. So: Who is standing alone in your world? Who needs support right now? Who is in the heat of battle and needs the gift of “I’m still here?”