Stew on This: Find Motivation in the Leadership Character Example of Daniel’s Life
What does it take to manifest and maintain godly character? Let’s look in the Old Testament to examine the leadership character example of Daniel’s life.
As you may know, when the curtain lifted on the drama of Daniel’s life, we saw him as a teenager being carried away captive to the foreign power of Babylon. Babylon was under the rule of the arrogant king, Nebuchadnezzar. This Babylonian king wanted to teach Daniel’s homeland of Judah a lesson. So he invaded Jerusalem and destroyed the city. It was the king’s custom to bring the brightest young men from the countries he conquered to Babylon. You can read Daniel 1:1-7 for the full biblical description of this event.
So Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon ransacked the temple which was the center of Jewish spiritual life – and the city. He carried away captive a select group of young men. His goal was to re-program them so they fit into Babylonian life, thought, and culture. Eventually they were meant to provide leadership and liaison within his government with the Jewish people.
That’s why he took from the royal family, from the nobility, and from those who were rising to leadership within their own nation and city. He took those who were physically strong and handsome, mentally sharp, given to learning, and who already evidenced good skill to serve in a significant capacity. In verses four through seven we read of his detailed reprogramming process. In every way he was reprogramming them to become Babylonian and no longer Hebrew.
If you were Daniel, or if you were Jewish, this was a dark, dark, time for your nation and for you personally. Daniel was about fifteen years old at that time. Imagine being forcibly abducted by a foreign power and made to march over 500 miles to a foreign country where you were enrolled in a mandatory indoctrination program. To catch the story of Daniel, you need to feel the impact – you can’t just read this as some casual event in the dusty records of history. This was dramatically difficult and hugely life impacting. How easy would it have been to give in to anger, bitterness, depression, and to blame God?
How would you handle such a life-wrenching event? Take a look at verse eight.
“But Daniel resolved that he would not defile himself with the king’s food, or with the wine that he drank,” (Daniel 1:8, ESV).
Catch those first few words, “But Daniel resolved…” He had a choice to make and he made it contrary to everything that was pulling at him to simply go along to get along. He was determined not to compromise his character. He endured the chaos his life was thrown into because of his character. He became one of the most significant leaders of Old Testament history, because of his leadership character. Daniel showed us it’s possible to maintain godly character even under dire circumstances. His story is inspiration for us all.
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