Getting to the top, God’s way – 12 success lessons from the life of Daniel. 🙌🏾🤓

The preparations for success at the top don’t start from when you arrive at the top; rather, even in your lowly position today, you need to start exhibiting the characteristics required to succeed at the top and trust that God sees all and will reward you in due course, according to what you can handle. Matt 25:15. The life of Daniel is full of lessons for success and I hope you find these as a useful guide. Study Daniel 5:10-12; Daniel 6:1-5.

  1. Daniel was very well educated and skillful in both worldly and Biblical matters. He and his three friends were given knowledge and skill in all literature and wisdom, by God, and Daniel had understanding in all visions and dreams. King Nebuchadnezzar interviewed them in all matters of wisdom and understanding and found them ten times better than all the magicians and astrologers in all his realm. (Daniel 1)
  1. Daniel and his friends were vegetarians and non-alcoholics, and they looked better and fatter in flesh than all their peers. (Daniel 1) What they fed on and drank had a direct impact on the quality of their mind and thinking clarity.
  1. Daniel had a tight knit group of close friends who he asked to pray with him for God’s help. Regarding King Nebuchadnezzar’s dream, the magicians and astrologers all said: “it is a difficult thing that the king asked and there is no man who can interprete the dream except the gods, whose dwelling is not in the flesh”. Basically, they all saw this as a completely impossible situation/task. After Daniel told the king to give him some time to figure out the dream, he asked his companions to join him in seeking God’s mercy in interpreting the dream. In essence, Daniel recognized the need for friends to join him in praying and seeking God’s face intensely. God answered. (Daniel 2)
    NB: This reinforces when Jesus said: Where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I with them – Matt 18:20.
  1. Daniel reigned throughout the time of King Nebuchadnezzar, being in charge of the magicians and astrologers. In another place it says he was in charge of the whole province of Babylon. When King Nebuchadnezzar promoted him, Daniel petitioned the king to promote his friends also, and they sort of became like “ministers” in Babylon. He could have forgotten about them as he was now a big man, but he didn’t. From the view of his friends, this reflects the importance of having the right, godly friends around you i.e. the power of having the right network. They (his friends) were also rewarded for their faithfulness. (Daniel 2)
  1. After King Nebuchadnezzar died, Daniel was made no. 3 ruler in the land by King Belshazzar, who was drinking alcohol from the holy vessels and the writing was made on the wall against him. Here again, Daniel was promoted because he interpreted what noone else could. There are tremendous blessings in life from solving the hardest problems, creating solutions to the biggest problems. Build a space for yourself in the least crowded place, treading off the beaten track.
  1. The “gift” God gave Daniel made a way for him in the world and brought him before great men (Prov18:16). Within all of us are gifts. Through the power of the Holy Spirit and a desire to be excellent and to use them for God’s glory, we can all discover and hone our gifts. Daniel recognized his gifts were from God and praised God for them (Dan 2:20-23, 27-28).
  1. Similar to Joseph, Daniel had people who, in his absence, spoke on his behalf, in the presence of the king, and vouched for him because of a) his skill, and b) his track record of excellence, knowledge and understanding. Basically these men found favor in the sight of other men, what some might call luck. More importantly, they were all ready and prepared when time and chance happened to them because God qualifies the called (1 Cor 1:27-29). Some related points to this:
  • These people that spoke on their behalf had the ear of the king i.e. the Butler for Joseph and the Queen for Daniel. These people were very close to the king and were highly trusted. So trusted were they that their words carried significant weight in the king’s ears and could not be ignored. Lesson 1 – We never know who is listening or watching us. Another lesson is that the most powerful people aren’t always the boss at the top but the inner circle so network wisely. 😉💡
  • Daniel and Joseph were recommended to the king because of their skills and the excellent things that they had done in the past.
  • In both cases, the king had a problem at hand that needed Daniel/Joseph’s skills. These skills were what the kings tested them on and because of how excellently well they performed, with God’s help, they were promoted to significant leadership positions in the land. Basically, no additional preparation was required.
  1. We know that Daniel didn’t allow the allure of power get to him. When King Belshazzar offered Daniel to be no. 3 ruler in the land if Daniel interpreted the writing on the wall, Daniel told him to keep it to himself. After interpreting the writing however, the king still gave the order for Daniel to be enthroned as the no. 3 ruler in the land. This shows the importance of relying on God to promote us at the right time and not take things into our hands. David’s life also reflected this as despite knowing God’s prophecy concerning Him, he never tried to kill Saul and waited for 15 years before becoming King of Judah and another 7 before becoming King over all Israel.
  1. King Darius the Mede, who overthrew the last king of Babylon, Belshazzar, made Daniel one of his 3 governors, governors who oversaw the 120 satraps (like ministers) in all the land. Daniel distinguished himself above the other two governors and all the satraps because AN EXCELLENT SPIRIT WAS IN HIM. So excellent a spirit that King Darius was considering setting him over the whole realm. He was faithful and there was no error/fault found in him. What could an excellent spirit mean? I believe it means that he followed the principle in Col 3:23-24 that “whatsoever you do, do as unto the Lord”. He was diligent in working. He was skilled, the best, a winner, continuously learning, able to see what noone else could see, relying on God daily for His help etc.
  1. It was Daniel’s custom to kneel down to pray and give thanks to God three times a day in his upper room. He didn’t hide his faith in God. He had been doing this since his early days and even the unbelievers all knew him for this. He was also known to fast.
  1. Daniel was fearless; pleasing God was always first and foremost on his mind. He was of good courage (see previous post)! The governors and satraps envied him and sought his downfall by tricking the king into making a law that any man who prayed to a god other than the king over 30 days should be killed. Daniel knew the men would most likely see him praying and despite the decree, He didn’t shy away from continuing in his prayers to God and even prayed with his windows wide open. 😂 His three friends were also fearless in defying King Nebuchadnezzar’s order for them to bow to a golden image.
  1. Daniel’s life at the top of the most powerful kingdoms (pagan!) in the world wasn’t without trials. Time and time again his faith and that of his friends was tested. a) The test of what to eat in the king’s house and risking the king’s anger. b) The bowing to the idol test of Daniel’s friends and the furnace of fire. c) The test for Daniel not to pray to his God and the lions’ den. As it was for them, so the man of God who is at the top will be tested. He is called to a higher moral and spiritual standard than ordinary men. Caution must guide his every step as surrounding him will be temptation and enemies that envy his God-given success but his eyes must remain stayed on God no matter what. No compromise!
  1. Daniel’s faithfulness was known in all the land and even the pagan kings acknowledged that Daniel served the true and living God. In fact, after the evil planned against Daniel, King Darius wrote a decree that in all the (pagan) land, “men must tremble and fear before the God of Daniel”! Wow! Just because of one man’s faithfulness. Because of this, God also rewarded Daniel, causing him to prosper (Dan 6:25-28). 😇😁

In summary, while the above is non-exhaustive as there are other principles in the Bible dealing with managing success at the top, such as how you deal with your money, recognizing with lowly men etc., I believe these principles should guide the life of any Christian who truly wants to succeed at the very top in this life, God’s way. Faith without works is dead. Yes faith, but to show the genuineness of your faith, you’ve got to put in the work with all your heart and might. Daniel is a clear example that God doesn’t call His children to mediocrity; He calls us to have a spirit of excellence and integrity in ALL that we do! Also, God desires to have His children in high and mighty places where they can truly influence things. These positions are however primarily for them to bring glory to God’s name by their faithfulness. After Daniel was saved from the lions, King Darius ordered all the other governors and satraps who plotted against Daniel to be fed to the lions, alongside their wives and children. This implies that Daniel probably became even more powerful in the land of Persia, consolidating his power in what, at the time, was the world’s super power (like America today). Looking at all the kings that Daniel served under, he reigned at the top for over 60 years! WHAT A SUPREME LEGEND! 🙌🏾😎

NB: Joseph was also the 2nd in command in Egypt, the most powerful kingdom in the world at the time. Esther was wife to the most powerful man in all the world. Her cousin, Mordecai, rose from sitting in the dust of the king’s gate to becoming the 2nd most powerful man in all the land, feared by all. All three were very faithful to God and didn’t allow the trappings of their worldly pagan environment get to them. Many men desire success, great success, but they cannot handle it the way these Bible characters did, hence they fall like Solomon and many others did and continue to do even today. 😞 The preparations for success at the top don’t start from when you arrive at the top; rather, even in your lowly position today, you need to start exhibiting the characteristics required to succeed at the top and trust that God sees all and will reward you in due course, according to what you can handle. Matt 25:15

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