Have you found yourself paying for other people’s mistakes—dragged in and included in the negative consequences of other people’s actions, which you had nothing to do with?
You’re in trouble because another person has made an error, or he or she hadn’t thought clearly.
Then, suddenly, you realize you have the know-how to get out of the sticky situation.
Perhaps a project at work is failing and after having time to think about it, and pray too, you know you are able to turn it around to be successful. Maybe you are working on a group project at college and the other students of your group are not doing their fair share. You put in the hours and everyone will get a good grade because of the work you’ve done.
How do you react in these circumstances?
I know my response it to make sure my boss or professor knows I am the one who should be recognized for producing the results. When my son has come home from school and complained about the rest of the group not pulling their weight on a piece, I have told him to make sure the teacher knows he is the one who made it successful.
My approach is to take care of myself, not other people—to make sure I shine.
When we look at Daniel’s story, though, we see a different attitude from this young man.
Daniel teaches us: We shine when we’re selfless rather than selfish.
We discovered last week, in our series Work Elevated, Daniel was about to lose his life because his colleagues failed to follow through on the King’s requests. Nebuchadnezzar wanted his astrologers to not only interpret his dream, but to tell him the contents of his dream, which of course they couldn’t do. In fact, the astrologers said:
There is no one on earth who can do what the king asks! Daniel 2:10 (NIV)
Daniel only discovered about this problem when he was rounded up with the other wise men to be executed.
So, Daniel stepped up, went to the King, and asked for more time to answer his request. Then, Daniel went home and prayed.
During the night, God revealed the King’s dream to Daniel.
What Daniel did next surprised me.
Daniel didn’t rush to the King to tell him he knew the solution to his request. Instead, Daniel went to Arioch, the man in charge of the executions, and told him to hold off.
Daniel stepped in to save all involved, not just himself. Daniel made sure the other wise men of Babylon were out of danger first. Even then, Daniel made no mention to Arioch that he knew the nature or content of the King’s dream, only that he could interpret it.
Then Daniel was taken to the king and the pivotal point arrived. The king asked Daniel outright: Are you able to tell me what I saw in my dream and interpret it?
Daniel could have simply told the most powerful man in the world his dream and saved his own skin, yet he decided to take a different route.
No wise man, enchanter, magician or diviner can explain to the king the mystery he has asked about. Daniel 2:27 (NIV)
Daniel didn’t say it was just him, but included all the King’s wise men in what he was about to say. He stood before the King and corroborated the message of all his wise men. Daniel gave the King a reason to extend the stay of execution.
Then Daniel put himself in an even more humble position. He said: The mystery has been revealed to me but not because I have greater wisdom than other living men.
Daniel could have implied his training in the king’s court had made him better than the others who worked for the king. But, Daniel puts himself on the same level as everyone else in or outside the King’s service. Daniel spoke of himself as just an ordinary person.
Daniel didn’t save himself at the expense of other people. And the lesson is, nor should we.
No matter how frustrated we are with other people on our team or in our work group, we need to bring them along with us in our success.
We need to care about our co-workers.
Our desire to do well or get ahead means we have to be a team player, and help other people be successful.
The right thing to do is to save not only our own head, but the heads of others, too.
Dear God, help me to see when my team let me down, this as an opportunity for me to build them up. Amen.