The life of Daniel provides a clear example of a man who was faithful to God in his career.
Daniel lived in the context of foreign conquest and exile. Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, solidified his conquest over the people of Judah by bringing the best and brightest Israelites to Babylon to work in his royal court. The Book of Daniel mentions four of these chosen men: Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. For three years they underwent training in the Babylonian language, tradition, political structure, literature and many other subjects. They worked amidst the best of the best, the elite of Babylonian society. Here are three lessons Daniel models for Christians seeking to honor God in the workplace.
Lesson #1: Christians can and should enter the workplace. As Hugh Whelchel explains: In the tent city in Babylon, a young man in the crowd heard Jeremiah’s letter and believed that it meant a new vocational call on his life. From that moment, he totally committed his life to working for the Shalom, the peace and well-being, of the great city of Babylon. The young man’s name was Daniel. Daniel pursued the Shalom of the city through his position in Nebuchadnezzar’s royal court.
You may not have a position in a king’s inner circle, but you can still work towards Shalom in the place you are called to right now.
Lesson #2: Christians should pursue excellence in the workplace. We’ve already seen how Daniel and his friends were the cream of the crop of Israelite men. These guys stood out, even from the best. They strove for excellence as they worked to bring shalom to Babylon. Because of God’s blessing of skill and success, Daniel and his friends are given greater responsibility as administrators over the province of Babylon.
Likewise, you have been blessed with certain skills, which you are called to develop in order that you might do good work. Like Daniel, we should strive for excellence in our jobs.
Lesson #3: Christians should be obedient in the workplace. In Daniel 1:8-15, Daniel and his friends refused the diet of royal food and wine set before them by the Babylonians. They saw refusing the king’s food as an act of obedience to God. Another example of obedience is when Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego refused to worship a golden statue Nebuchadnezzar built.
There may be times when your office culture conflicts with your Christian values. You may be asked to do or say something unethical. Daniel and his friends are a model of obedience for us when facing these situations.
Throughout these first few chapters it must be noticed that Daniel and his friends excelled at their careers despite the fact that they did not choose them. They remained obedient to God throughout this experience, despite being a part of their conqueror’s inner circle. These are qualities that we as Christians should develop, too, as we seek the peace and prosperity of our surrounding culture. (TAYLOR BARKLEY)