How to Succeed in the Workforce

Read Daniel chapter 6

At this, the administrators and the satraps tried to find grounds for charges against Daniel in his conduct of government affairs, but they were unable to do so. They could find no corruption in him, because he was trustworthy and neither corrupt nor negligent. (Daniel 6:4)

Daniel chapter 6 starts the transition in government from the Babylonians to the Medes and Persians, starting with King Darius. Daniel had served Nebuchadnezzar, and in Daniel chapter 4 we have the story of King Nebuchadnezzar’s conversion experience, where God humbled him by taking away his sanity and then later restored him back to power. Nebuchadnezzar’s response: “Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and extol and honor the King of heaven, for all his works are right and his ways are just; and those who walk in pride he is able to humble.” (Daniel 4:37) Unfortunately, Nebuchadnezzar’s son did not follow his father’s faith in God, and Daniel apparently did not serve in his court. Chapter 5 gives the story of how the kingdom of Babylon was taken away by King Darius, and foretold by Daniel.

Darius apparently knew about Daniel, as he appointed Daniel as one of his top 3 administrators over the entire kingdom. As in previous times, Daniel proved to be better than the others he served with, so the king was planning on promoting him above the others two. This was not well received by the other administrators, probably Medo/Persians who had been brought in during the conquest and were used to having things their own way, so they plotted a way to frame and malign Daniel in an effort to destroy him. The problem was that Daniel’s character was without fault in terms of corruption, and his job performance was excellent. So they had no choice but to attack him personally on the grounds of his faith, and they tricked the king into signing an executive order “that whoever makes petition to any god or man for thirty days, except to you, O king, shall be cast into the den of lions.” Daniel, of course, did not obey this order, and continued to pray to God, his Creator.

When the king finds out that the injunction he just signed, which is irrevocable by law, was a plot to destroy Daniel, he becomes very agitated and tries to do everything he can to save Daniel. In the end, he had to obey his own law which he foolishly made. There is evidence that the fame of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego and what happened to them in the furnace under King Nebuchadnezzar might have been known to King Darius, because as he has Daniel thrown into the lion’s den he says to Daniel, “May your God, whom you serve continually, deliver you!

As the story turns out of course, God does save Daniel by sending an angel, just as he did with Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. Daniel’s enemies are then destroyed by an apparently angry king. Faith in God triumphs again!

There are some very important principles from this story that we all need to take note of in terms of serving others in authority over us in an employment (or other) relationship.

  1. Serve for the good of your employer, and for their success. Daniel had a high position of authority, but remember where he came from. He was a captive from Israel, and from a family of nobility that was brought to that land by force, as a prisoner of war. He was forced to serve in ungodly administrations, but that did not stop him from seeking the best for his employers, and desiring their success and contributing to their success. He did this without compromising his values and convictions, but neither did he use his faith and his values as an excuse to perform his job poorly or reluctantly.
  2. Daniel upheld the highest standards possible, as if he were serving God himself and not man. This principle is also in the New Testament: “Slaves, obey your earthly masters with fear and trembling, with a sincere heart, as you would Christ, not by the way of eye-service, as people-pleasers, but as servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart, rendering service with a good will as to the Lord and not to man, knowing that whatever good anyone does, this he will receive back from the Lord, whether he is a slave or free.” (Ephesians 6:5-8) If this exhortation is given to slaves, how much more does it apply to employees?
  3. Although Daniel was in a position of high rank and high power, he apparently never abused his power or position with his employer for personal gain. There was no corruption found in him by his enemies. That is an incredible statement if you think about it. Someone of Daniel’s position would have every opportunity to just “cheat” once in a while, or do something for a friend, a favor, or something that would not otherwise be possible. He had ample opportunities to take advantage of his position and the king’s resources for personal gain and comfort. The temptations to “cut corners” and indulge just a bit would be incredible, and yet his enemies could find no corruption whatsoever with Daniel!
  4. Daniel was also not “negligent” in his duties. He didn’t slack off or take it easy while on the job, but performed his job with the highest standard possible, giving his accusers nothing to complain about. He apparently maintained very high standards of excellence, and never compromised or let people off the hook for not performing their jobs.
  5. Daniel was trustworthy and reliable. He was there when people depended upon him. He showed up for work every day. He did not fail to perform his duties and pass them off to others. Even though he was faithful in his worship of God his Creator, it apparently never interfered with his duties in the government. If it had, his accusers would have noted it. But instead, a special law had to be created to make worship itself illegal.

So how about you? Do you follow these principles in your own employment situation, or in other relationships where you have to serve someone in a position of authority above you? If someone decided to attack you and try to find reasons to accuse you before your employer, would they be able to dig up any dirt on you? Do you use the fact that you serve someone ungodly as a reason to not serve them wholeheartedly? Daniel followed these principles and the result was that he led kings and rulers to a faith in God, and ended up changing the world. Follow these principles in your own life, and God will use you in a mighty way also. If you are reborn into the Kingdom of Light, live your life in a manner worthy of your calling from God!

And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God. May you be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy, giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. (Colossians 1:9-14)