Last week, a question came up asking for the names of 5 people currently alive that I would like to have a meeting with. Although I consider it very difficult to narrow down my list to 5, I mentioned Craig Groeschel, Gbile Akanni, Ibukun Awosika, Jurgen Klopp and Francine Rivers. My friends also pitched in with their lists of 5 which included some remarkable people. Bishop Oyedepo, Mike Bamiloye, Tyler Perry, Carlo Ancelotti, Enoch Adeboye and Simi were some of the names mentioned.
A quick assessment of the names gives a common denominator. These are people of influence who have been consistent for a considerable length of time. Craig Groeschel founded and leads Life Church, the ministry behind the exceptional YouVersion Bible App. He has been committed to this cause for 24 years. Carlo Ancelotti has coached some of the best teams in Italy, Spain, France and England, winning multiple trophies. Ibukun Awosika who chairs First Bank, founded The Chair Centre more than thirty years ago and has built other successful organizations. You can make a similar case for any of the people mentioned. This leads us to our Bible study character for today. Daniel.
Shall we pray?
Dear Lord, we thank you for a time like this. We thank you because nothing catches you by surprise. We thank you for being our peace in times of trouble. We ask that you grant us insight into your word. We pray that we will learn what you have in store for us and grow into your likeness. In Jesus name, we pray. Amen.
LONGEVITY IN SERVICE – DANIEL
Ancient empires were known to rarely allow for peaceful transitions; most of the takeovers were hostile and bloody. The resultant effect of a takeover was usually a total overhaul of the leadership. A new king would kill the former ruler and dismiss those loyal to the deposed ruler. Considering this brutal culture, how did Daniel, a captive, serve successful under several kings? (Daniel 1:21, 6:28)
Daniel served as a ruler of Babylon province and chief administrator of the wise men of Babylon (2:48) under Nebuchadnezzar. He was a consultant on Interpretation of Signs (5:10-31) to Belshazzar and he was one of the 3 Governors overseeing the kingdom (6:2) under Darius.
How did Daniel manage to stay relevant in leadership despite the change of rulers? How did he remain respected in a nation where he was not an indigene? What can we learn from him in our individual pursuits?
The concept of Royal Courts explores individuals who were or who served royalty in scriptures. However, the application for us is not limited to that definition. Each of us can be royalty, i.e. leaders, in whatever sphere of influence we are operating from. Therefore, we are learning from these characters to help us in our journey in the areas that God has called us to serve.
There are many things in the life of Daniel that enabled him to serve excellently, for an extended period. We will consider 4 of them, using the code P.I.C.S to enable us to recollect easily.
- Daniel was a man of PRAYER.
The first insight we have into Daniel’s prayer life was in the second chapter of the book (2:18). Nebuchadnezzar had decreed that all the wise men in the land should be killed because they could not tell him what his dream was. When they captured Daniel, he requested for time from the king. Afterwards, he informed his 3 companions and beseeched them to pray to God to intervene in the matter.
Not much in said about Daniel’s prayer life until another challenge. There was office politics from some people who wanted to stop him from being promoted (6:4-9). A memo was issued from HQ that no one should pray to any other god except the king. It was in this difficult situation that we learn more about Daniel’s prayer life.
Daniel 6 verse 10 says that when Daniel knew about the decree, he went home and proceeded to his upper room with his window open towards Jerusalem. He then went on his knees three times that day and prayed, as was his custom since the early days. We see here that Daniel was a man of prayer. When things were good, he prayed. When things were bad, he prayed.
For those who intend to last in the royal courts, we need to know that prayer is a non-negotiable success factor. In our offices, schools, shops and classrooms, we are not just normal individuals; we are ambassadors advancing the cause of our heavenly Father’s kingdom! We are in warfare. We must not lose sight of our relationship with God.
- Daniel was a man of INTEGRITY
At the age of 62, Darius became ruler of the kingdom after a bloody takeover. He reorganized his kingdom. He chose 127 satraps to be over the kingdom. These men would then report to 3 governors, who would in turn report to the king (6:1-2). There was a well structure organizational structure with clearly defined reporting lines.
Daniel was one of the 3 governors. Over time, the Bible makes us understand that Daniel distinguished himself among the leaders to the extent that the king was considering placing him above the others. Bad belle people came together and formed an allegiance with the intention of ousting Daniel. At their inaugural meeting, a challenge came up. Scriptures say that they could find no charge or fault, because he was faithful; nor was there any error of fault found in him. (6:4). They quickly discovered that there was no way to get Daniel out except concerning the law of God (6:5).
In any sphere of life, enemies are eager to ruthlessly exploit weaknesses. Samson discovered that, with disastrous consequences (Judges 15:10, 16:20-31). Daniel was able to successfully serve for an extended period because he was a man of integrity. He was a man with clean hands and a pure heart, who has not lifted up his soul to an idol, nor sworn deceitfully (Psalm 24:4)
- Daniel was COMPETENT
One of the most important factors that ensures longevity in service in any capacity is competence. Being excellent at what you do. Daniel prospered in the reign of 4 kings. Four! In an era where serving one king successfully was an achievement, Daniel excelled. Kings in those times were sovereign. As Daniel said concerning one of them, “Whomever he wished, he executed; whomever he wished, he kept alive; whomever he wished he set up; and whomever he wished, he put down.” (5:19)
Daniel was appointed by the kings because he was excellent. Nebuchadnezzar, the first king to recruit Daniel, did so after he performed well at the interview stage (1:19). Also, Daniel successfully told and interpreted the king’s dream (2:31-49). When he was recommended as a consultant to Belshazzar by the queen to help decipher the enigma of the handwriting on the wall based on his history, Daniel performed excellently (5:10-31). As one of the three governors in the kingdom, it was reported that Daniel distinguished himself. (6:3). This shows the importance of competence in service.
However, it is important to note that Daniel’s competence was in the Lord. One of my favourite passages, 2 Corinthians 3:5, comes to mind. “Not that we are competent in ourselves to claim anything for ourselves, but our competence comes from God.” Daniel excelled at the interview because of the knowledge and skill God gave him (1:17). The revelation and interpretation of Nebuchadnezzar’s dream was from God (2:27-28 & 30). Also, he was able to distinguish himself because of the excellent spirit God gave him (6:3).
- Daniel had SELF-CONTROL
Imagine an immigrant who has been surviving by eating whatever he could lay his hands upon being invited to a buffet where he is permitted to eat everything. How do you think he would react? By eating anything he can lay his hands upon, of course. At least that’s what I think.
Daniel was among a select group who was selected for BTA (Babylon Training Academy) for an elite leadership course which would last for 3 years during which would be privileged to enjoy the king’s delicacies. Someone else would have jumped at the food, but Daniel declined that part of the offer because he knew eating food sacrificed to idols would be tantamount to defiling himself. (1:3-16)
Years later, Belshazzar needed a consultant who was a specialist in interpretation of mysteries. Due to the required skill set and the urgency of the assignment, the king overruled the HR manager and gave a staggering offer. Any person who was successful in the engagement would be clothed with purple, to signify royalty, and be given a chain of gold. Also, the individual would be made the third ruler in the kingdom (5:7). Did I hear you say wow?
As Daniel stepped into the palace, the king repeated the offer. To everyone’s surprise, Daniel rejected the offer. He said, let your gifts be for yourself, and give your rewards to another; yet I will read the writing to the king, and make known to him the interpretation. (5:17). Although the king eventually gave him the reward (5:29), Daniel’s ability to restrain himself from things that are enticing is exemplary.
When you have been invited to dine with a very important leader, consider your manners and keep in mind who you are with. Be careful to curb your appetite and catch yourself before you fall into the trap of wanting all you see. Proverbs 23:1-2.
One of the secrets of extended service in the royal courts is the ability to look away from enticing rewards and focus on efficient delivery. Daniel told the king that he would do what was required without the need for a reward. Those who can serve kings are those who are able to manage their appetites for fame, fortune and the freebies that come with royalty. Are you one of them?
- If you are to rate your prayer life on a scale of 0-10, with 0 being non-existent and 10 being excellent, what would your rating be? How do you intend to improve?
- Jesus said in John 14:30, “…the ruler of this world is coming, and he has nothing in me.” Are there things in your life that are inconsistent with what God desires? Things that can be easy targets for the enemy? What are they? How do you intend to work on them?
- Competence is a non-negotiable success factor. How can you improve your ability to perform your duties? Are there books you need to read? Courses you need to register for? Seminars you need to attend?
- Self-control is a fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:23). Are there things you need to learn to say No to?
Daniel was an exemplary man; a person who ran well and finished strong (12:13). Today, we are at different stages in our journey. Some are coming out of the blocks, others are at mid-race, while some are nearing the finish line. No one can run well and finish strong without the help of God. With our strength, we will run into the landmines prepared by the enemies.
So, I’ll like you to take a few minutes and talk to God in prayers. Ask for His help in your journey. Tell him those areas you need his strength. He said no one who comes to Him will he in any wise cast away. Talk to Jesus. He is listening.
From the Royal Courts continues Monday by God’s grace.