I think Daniel was a remarkable person. As a teenager he was taken from his family in Jerusalem and exiled to Babylon. Babylon was a pagan city where his captors sought to indoctrinate him and his friends in their philosophy and worldview. Would Daniel survive? Amazingly, Daniel not only survived … he thrived … in Babylon … for over 60 years!
Here are some principles we can learn from Daniel and seek to imitate in our lives as we live in our contemporary world.
1. Develop a personal relationship with God. Daniel had a strong faith and this outworked itself in his daily life. He was a person of prayer (Daniel 2:18-19; 6:11; 9:3, 20-23) and he also meditated on God's Word. Through these daily disciplines he was able to connect with God, gain wisdom for his daily work, and keep perspective on his life – even in the midst of busyness. We too should seek to connect with God daily.
2. Excel at your work. We are told that Daniel and his friends were ten times better than the other advisers to the king of Babylon (Daniel 1:17-20; 2:14). This excellence was a combination of God given ability along with disciplined learning and development. As Daniel applied himself to his job and duties assigned to him, he developed wisdom, insight and understanding. He became a highly competent and proficient leader. This excellence led to his promotion to a position of great influence within Babylon. We also should seek to be the very best we can be – not in some competitive or egotistical manner – but in order to fully develop the potential God has placed in us in order to better serve in our role in society. Whatever our work may be, we should do your very best for God and do everything for his glory.
3. Walk in integrity. Daniel was a person of integrity (Daniel 6:4). Daniel walked the talk. Who he was publicly matched who he was privately. He refused to compromise. He was a person of upright character and moral excellence. He was a man of convictions and he was willing to stand for them no matter what the cost. He was willing to be different if necessary rather than just following the crowd. He resolved to do what God wanted regardless of the consequences. Daniel's integrity was tested many times and he came under attack through the criticism, jealousy and even conspiracy of other people. He ended up in a lion’s den because of sticking to his convictions. Walking in integrity doesn’t mean everything will always go smoothly for us but God promises to watch over us and bring us through each challenge.
4. Don't travel alone.Daniel had three friends – Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah (whose names were changed to Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego). We see them spending time together quite often through the narrative of the book of Daniel, and especially during times of pressure and crisis (Daniel 2:16-18). We too need some good friends who are traveling companions to us. Yes, life can be lonely at times, but none of us are meant to go it alone.
5. Understand and Rest in God's Providence. I’m sure if Daniel was here today he would tell you that his life did not turn out as he expected it would or even as he planned that it would. His life was affected by dramatic circumstances and changes of events that took him totally by surprise beginning with him being taken as a prisoner from his homeland and right through his time in Babylon. He learned to trust and rest in God's providence (Daniel 4:25; 5:21). In the same way, each person’s journey has unexpected terrain and turns. We need to embrace a balanced viewed of human responsibility and divine sovereignty. A few centuries later, the apostle Paul put it this way … "And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to his purpose." (Romans 8:28. NAS)
Dare to be a Daniel!