SCRIPTURE: “Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego replied to the king, O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it, and He will rescue us from your hand, O king. But even if He does not, we want you to know, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up. (Daniel 3: 16-18 NIV)
There is no other way. We may be threatened with termination of our employees so be it. We must obey God first because His laws are higher than our laws or any directive our bosses might give us. Now, let us serve our bosses well, and be ten times better (Daniel 1.20) than our peers in the quality of our work product. But also we should resolve to never defile ourselves by disobeying God.
Trust in God’s sovereignty is more important than pleasing our bosses. Holding all that we have including our job, with an open hand is equally important. Let us place our trust in God for our future even when our future is full of threats from our difficult bosses about losing our job or making sure we never find work in our industry again. God is able to make all things work together for our good (Romans 8.28).
SCRIPTURE: “You have issued a decree, O King, that everyone who hears the sound of the horn, flute, zither, lyre, harp, pipes, and all kinds of music must fall down and worship the image of gold. But there are some Jews whom you have set over the affairs of the province of Babylon-Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego-who pay no attention to you, O king. They neither serve your gods nor worship the image of gold you have set up.” (Daniel 3:10 & 12 NIV)
When the king gave Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego the opportunity to avoid death by worshipping the golden image, they refused because they would not worship any other god other than God Himself. In business, there will be times when essentially, we’ll be asked to worship a god other than God Himself. Our bosses may demand that we have excessive loyalty to them.
We may be asked to put our employer first in all areas of our life. We may be told that our loyalty is required or we will be fired. If or when this happens, we need to have already decided our allegiances. These three men made this plain and apparent right off the bat when they refused the king’s food in Daniel chapter 1. They had resolved to not defile themselves. Their resolution was firmly tested in chapter 3. The time to make non-negotiable decisions about our allegiance to God is now, not when the test of persecution comes. What is non-negotiable for us? What are we willing to lose our job over? What will we die for? These are the questions we need to answer now before the persecution comes.
SCRIPTURE: “Then Daniel (also called Belteshazzar) was greatly perplexed for a time, and his thoughts terrified him. So the King said, Belteshazzar, do not let the dream or its meaning alarm you. Belteshazzar answered, My lord, if only the dream applied to your enemies and its meaning to your adversaries!” (Daniel 4:19 NIV)
In Daniel 4, King Nebuchadnezzar has a dream that disturbs him greatly. He calls Daniel in for help with the interpretation of the dream, but Daniel realizes it does not bring good news: This is part of a major theme in Daniel – how to live as an exile. Through some of the earlier examples of leadership, you can see that Daniel and his friends refuse to adopt Babylonian ways that go against God. At the same time, they still work for the good of those in Babylon. Daniel cares for the king and wants the best for him, he works for the peace and prosperity of his new home.
It would have been tempting for Daniel to laugh at the king, and to tell the king he is finally getting what he deserves. Instead, he mourns for the king and calls him to repent before he receives his judgment. It doesn’t work immediately, but eventually, after God humbles him, Nebuchadnezzar does repent.
Great servant leaders care about their people and desire the best for them. You may not agree with the politicians in power in your community or nation, but God still calls you to pray for them and honor them. You may not like your co-workers, but God still calls you to work for their benefit and not their harm. You may have difficult neighbors, but you are still called to love our neighbor as yourself.
SCRIPTURE: “Now when Daniel learned that decree had been published, he went home to his upstairs room where the windows opened towards Jerusalem. Three times a day he got down on his knees and prayed, giving thanks to his God, just as he had done before. Then these men went as a group and found Daniel praying and asking God for help.” (Daniel 6:10-11 NIV)
Throughout Daniel, we can clearly see the benefits of having spiritual accountability:
1. Daniel and his friends resist unclean food together in Daniel 1.
2. Daniel and his friends pray together for help interpreting the king’s dream in Daniel 2:17-18.
3. Daniel asks the king to appoint Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego as administrators over Babylon to support his work in Daniel 2:49
4. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego refuse to worship the image of gold together in Daniel 3:16
5. Daniel holds the king accountable and calls him to repent in Daniel 4:27.
6. While it is certainly possible to remain faithful in the face of evil by yourself (see Daniel 6, where Daniel goes to the Lion’s Den alone), it’s much easier when you have friends.
Many Christians today, go to church and have community groups, but these relationships only go so deep. We need a small group of friends who will ask us the hard questions – how is your marriage going? How are you leading with integrity at work? Are you spending time with God? What are the idols in your life?
Daniel and his friends spent the majority of their time with people who did not believe in their God. In fact, the Babylonians frequently mocked their religion and commanded them to go against God. All of us will spend time amongst non-believers. Some will be respectful of your beliefs, and others will not. That is why it is key to have strong relationships with people in your life who believe what you believe and will encourage you to remain faithful and do what is right, even when it hurts.
SCRIPTURE: “Daniel replied, No wise man, enchanter, magician or diviner can explain to the king the mystery he has asked about, but there is a God in Heaven who reveals mysteries. He has shown King Nebuchadnezzar what will happen in days to come. Your dream and the visions that passed through your mind as you lay on your bed are these:” (Daniel 2:27-28 NIV)
As we might expect, Daniel and his friends recognize where their power comes from. When King Nebuchadnezzar asks Daniel if he can interpret a dream for him. Daniel gives the credit to God, here and throughout the book of Daniel. This is in stark contrast to Nebuchadnezzar in Daniel 4 and his son, Belshazzar, in Daniel 5. Despite Daniel’s warnings, Nebuchadnezzar finds himself bragging about how amazing he is. God decides that enough is enough, and so he drives the King insane. Nebuchadnezzar lives like a wild animal for 7 years until his sanity is restored to him and he finally recognizes where his power comes from.
Belshazzar wasn’t as lucky – his arrogance led to his kingdom is taken from him in Daniel 5. Leadership is a position of power. It is vital for servant leaders to remember where that power ultimately comes from. When we begin to revel in our own glory instead of offer it properly to God, we put ourselves and our people at risk.
The book of Daniel contains several famous stories, and at their core is a group of servant leaders. Daniel and his friends, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were taken from their homes and brought to Babylon where they were required to serve their conquerors. Despite the hopeless situation they found themselves in, they remained faithful to God through everything, and we can learn several leadership principles from them.
Beloved in the Lord, For the next couple of weeks, we’ll talk about, 7 SERVANT LEADERSHIP PRINCIPLES FROM THE BOOK OF DANIEL, with today’s focus on Respect Others. .
May the Holy Spirit minister deeply into our hearts, the message He has for us today. Enjoy!
SCRIPTURE: “Now God had caused the official to show favor and sympathy to Daniel, but the official told Daniel, I am afraid of my lord the king, who assigned your food and drink. Why should he see you looking worse than the other young men of your age? The king would then have my head because of you. Daniel then said to the guard whom the chief official had appointed over Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah. Please test your servants for ten days: Give us nothing but vegetables to eat and water to drink.” (Daniel 1:9-12 NIV)
Even though Daniel and his friends declined the king’s food, they did it in a respectful way. Daniel’s first request is met with favor and compassion, probably because he wasn’t a jerk about it. The King’s servant pushed back and explained his fears, and then Daniel offered a solution. Daniel wouldn’t risk the eunuch’s head, instead, he would risk his own, and then only for a few days. After the ten days, Daniel and his friends were in better health than anyone else, and so the King’s servant put everyone else on the same diet. This never would have happened had Daniel not resolved to do what was right, and then gone about it in a respectful way. There are many believers today who get the first part right – they resolve to do what is right. But then, they’re jerks about it to everyone else. This is not an effective form of evangelism or leadership. Instead, we should follow the words of Romans 12:10b and, “Outdo one another in showing honor.“