How to be a Loyal Person: A Lesson from the Story of the King and the Servant

By Babar Ahmad, London

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Once upon a time there lived a king. Whenever any of his servants would do something to displease him, he would feed them to a pack of wild dogs that he kept in a special cage. Now this king had a servant who had served his master loyally for 10 years. One day this servant did something to displease the king, so the king ordered that he be fed to the wild dogs.

“I served you for ten years and this is what I get in return? Please, give me ten days respite, then feed me to the dogs,” the servant begged the king. The king agreed. The servant then went to the keeper of the wild dogs and asked if he could help him take care of the dogs for the next ten days. The keeper was baffled, but agreed.

So for the next ten days, the servant served the dogs. He fed them, bathed them and played with them. He took them out for exercise, stroked them and spoke kind words to them.

When the ten days were up, the king arrived to witness his servant being thrown to the dogs. But when the servant was thrown into the cage, something unexpected happened…

What is loyalty? What are the characteristics of loyal people?

Loyalty is remaining faithful and true to something, whether it’s your word, a promise or a person. Loyalty is unconditional love and attachment to an individual.

Loyal people move the earth for the people they are loyal to. They do anything for them: spend time, money and effort for them. They help them in times of hardship and do not forget them during calamities. They correct them when they err. They stick by their side when everyone else abandons them. They remain present in good times and bad, luxury and poverty, health and sickness.

Loyal people are loyal to everyone close to them. Loyal people never forget the good that others have done to them.

Loyal people move the earth for the people they are loyal to. They stick by their side when everyone else abandons them. They remain present in good times and bad, luxury and poverty, health and sickness. Loyal people never forget the good that others have done to them.

A loyal person is loyal first and foremost to God. He never forgets God, his Creator and Sustainer, no matter what he goes through in life. A loyal person is also loyal to those close to him, such as his family and close friends. Someone who is not loyal to his own family can never be truly loyal to anyone else. He may show signs of loyalty, but it is fake, not genuine.

In his book, “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People,” Stephen Covey uses the concept of an “emotional bank account” to describe the relationship between any two individuals, whether familial, romantic, friendship or other. The higher the balance of the emotional bank account, the better the state of the relationship and loyalty of the individuals towards each other. Like any bank account, you can make deposits to and withdrawals from the account.

Covey describes how the biggest deposit to the account (and the biggest proof of loyalty) is made by giving time to the other person. Time is the most valuable resource that we possess. It is more valuable than money. Money goes up and down but time is finite. So rich, busy parents can never compensate their children for not spending time with them by buying expensive ‘guilt gifts’ for them.

Whenever we give some of our time to someone, be it by a phone call or email, we make a deposit into the emotional bank account. Other deposits are made by way of gifts, anything good that we do to the other person, being there for them in times of distress, listening to them and apologising when we make mistakes.

In the same way, when we do any wrong to that person we make a withdrawal from the emotional bank account. Covey described that the biggest withdrawal we can make from this account is to when we fail to fulfil a promise or honour a commitment we made to the other person. Failing to keep to our word shows the other person that they are not worthy of our time or energy.

Being loyal to one’s word is a characteristic of every great person. Even in prison, there is this thing called your “word.” You are nothing without your word. Conflicts, business and agreements are made with a handshake sealed by your word. If you go back on your word, your worth as a person ends. It is better for a person to give up his life, his wealth and his time than to go back on his word.

If the emotional bank account balance is high, it can withstand withdrawals but only up to a point. At some point, we can withdraw so much from an account without realising it that we can fall into the red (overdrawn) or become bankrupt, thus destroying the relationship.

Returning to the story of the king and the servant, when the servant was thrown into the cage full of wild dogs, instead of tearing him to shreds, the dogs gathered round him and began to lick him.

The king was surprised at this sight so he asked what had happened to his dogs. The servant replied. “I served these dogs for only ten days, yet they never forgot what I did for them. But I served you for ten years, and you forgot all of that at my first mistake.” Upon hearing this, the king realised his mistake and set the servant free.

I served these dogs for only ten days, yet they never forgot what I did for them. But I served you for ten years, and you forgot all of that at my first mistake.

The moral of the story is: always remember the acts of kindness done to you and never forget the good that people have done for you, even if it was only on a single occasion.

How to be a Loyal Person: A Lesson from the Story of the King and the Servant

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