Daniel’s job was affected by a hostile take-over. The new corporate leadership was completely foreign to him. They came with their own set of values and mission statements, turning everything upside down. Everything changed; Daniel was demoted and forced to make major sacrifices to keep his job. To make matters worse the new CEO was a tyrant; when something went wrong heads would roll. Always before, Daniel's faith had been an asset but under new leadership it was often a source of ridicule and disdain. Not a single one of the new team was a believer. It seemed as if everything that had been valued before no longer had meaning. But Daniel’s job was important to him, he believed he could forge a way to still succeed.
Are you, like Daniel, surrounded by non-believers in your workplace? Are the actions and attitudes modeled around the office more anything goes than family values, where the water cooler talk makes you blush? Perhaps your boss is the worst of all. You may even have days where you wonder if, in fact, he just might be the devil in disguise. If so you may find your Christianity viewed more as a liability than an asset. The challenge for a believer in a secular work environment is finding a way to live your faith and still succeed at your job. Let’s take a closer look at how Daniel rose to the challenge.
His story is one of more than just a simple corporate buy-out, his entire country was over-thrown. Many of us grew-up with Sunday school stories of how God saved Daniel in the lion’s den when he was being punished for being faithful in worshiping God. But there is other wisdom to be gained from studying his example.
To begin, let’s review his basic story. As a young teen, Daniel was taken captive- along with most of the Jewish population of Jerusalem- and forced to live in exile in the foreign land of Babylon. Yet, Daniel did not let this experience defeat him. Not only did he survive his many years in Babylon, he thrived in them. A closer look at his story reveals seven lessons for Christian success in a secular workplace.
1. Bloom where you are planted
No matter what your position, stand out by being the best that you can be. Perhaps you have been passed over for positions or have not received the recognition you deserve. Don't let that deter you. Daniel was nobility forced to become a slave, but he did not let the position he held impact the quality of the work he preformed. He was diligent at whatever he did. Model Daniel's workmanship; work hard and be an example to others. Every manager should want Christian employees for the quality of our work, not see us as lazy, difficult or unproductive. Because of his diligence, Daniel was promoted to ruler over the Babylonian province and placed over all the other wise men. Let your work speak for you.
2. Respect the position
During his time in captivity, Daniel saw the reign of four different kings: Nebuchadnezzar, Belshazzar, Darius and Cyrus. No matter which one was on the throne, Daniel gave the position the respect it warranted. Whether or not God lead you specifically to your place of employment, you are there now. Daniel went from being free to a slave overnight yet he didn’t act resentful or angry, nor did he disregard what was important to the king even though the king was not his by choice. You are not a slave- although your job may make you feel that way on occasion- but you do have a chain of authority. Respect it. No matter which king, or manager, is in authority over you give them the respect the position warrants.
3. Communicate Life
There were many occasions where Daniel would have had just cause to have spoken angrily, but the Bible tells us he spoke with wisdom and tact; so should you. In business and personal relationships, gentle words spoken in wisdom open the doors of communication. Harsh words close them. Too often, we react in haste burning bridges instead of building them. Use words that build up your co-workers. Be the encourager on your team. Support your leader and new initiatives. In Daniel's time, his wisdom and tact saved lives. What might yours do?
4. Be Active in Prayer
Daniel prayed often and earnestly throughout his life. He even asked his friends to pray to grant him wisdom in his circumstance and for an interpretation of the king's dream. His prayer was answered. We aren't told all that he prayed for but it would be reasonable to assume he prayed for freedom for his people. Yet, his faith did not waiver when that prayer seemed to go unanswered. When you are troubled in any area of life, communication with God is the single most important step to take. You are never alone in your circumstance. Keep the prayer line open and in the on position all day.
5. Show Concern for Others
As Christians we are called to love the sinner but hate the sin. Daniel never retaliated against those who had greatly wronged him, even when in a position of authority to do so. He even asked the king to spare the lives of the heathen wise men that were to be executed. He let vengeance remain with God. Treat everyone in your workplace with compassion and concern regardless of position. You may be the only example of Christ they will ever see.
6. Have Integrity in All You Do
When Daniel's enemies tried to find grounds to make charges against him, “they could find no corruption in him, because he was trustworthy and neither corrupt or negligent". Regardless of the integrity of your employer, your integrity should never be able to be called into question. Don't take short cuts in your work, don't take home office supplies, follow the rules. If you are paid to work eight hours, work all eight hours. Stand for what is true, honest and just in all things.
7. Never Compromise Your Faith
There may be times where the corporate culture conflicts with your faith. If it does, don't be afraid to take a stand in a loving and respectful way. If the sales team wants to take a client to a gentleman's club, don't give in and go. What is more important, your soul or your job? Despite extraordinary risk, Daniel never failed to take a stand. He risked his life to ask to not eat the king’s choice food for it had been dedicated to pagan gods. He took a stand by not worshiping foreign gods. He took a stand by speaking up to the king. He took a stand by asking for the Chaldean’s lives to be spared. God's laws always triumph man's laws or corporate rules, if ever there is conflict. Stand strong.
While Daniel’s experience was thousands of years ago, the lessons are still applicable today. Whatever work you do, do it as if for God. Would you give Him anything less than your best? Let the quality of your work and behavior speak for your character. As a believer, you are in the world but not of the world. Your office just may be the mission field God has called you to. Let your light shine.