You Can be an Effective Leader Like Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego
Most of the stories involving these four Hebrew men are well-known to us. During the Babylonian captivity, they served foreign kings, Nebuchadnezzar and Darius being the most familiar. Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego rose to power not because of cunning or political savvy, but because they totally committed their lives into the hands of God. They were effective leaders, and they helped make their kings more effective, too. Though there are many qualities that go into good leadership.
Below are the 10 characteristics and ways that YOU can be an effective leader in your community and make a difference.
- Make God our number one priority. Pray.
- Put God first, then family, then the rest -- education, career, after school activities, etc.
- Make praying, listening to God, an all-day activity.
- When you prioritize your values and are clear about what you need to accomplish, you will manage your time better, feel less stressed, and focus on what will help you most with your spiritual growth.
- Prayer, of course, is central to spiritual growth and leadership. Prayer will also help you work with others and give you confidence to get through any difficult situation.
- Do what is right all the time, not just when it's convenient. Maintain your integrity.
- A successful leader needs to have a strong sense of integrity, set an example for others, and do what's right and honest in tough situations.
- Rather than gossip about someone, find something good to say, and stop gossip.
- Even though it may seem easier at the moment to lie, tell the truth (perhaps it's to your parents who are wondering why you were out so late). Telling the truth may get you in trouble, but it will never lead to lies upon lies. Mainly, the truth will keep you safe with God.
- It may seem easier to cheat (maybe because you haven't finished your homework), but if you do, you're really cheating yourself, depriving yourself of an honest relationship with others and with God.
- Be consistent.
- Don't say one thing and do another.
- Treat all people kindly all the time. Don't treat your friends well and others poorly.
- Follow through on what you say you're going to do. If you say you're going to get the list together, do so; if you're going to start a food drive, then do it; if you say everyone will be included, then include everyone.
- Have moral courage. Be strong in the face of conflict or danger. Trust God.
- If you're ever pressured by peers to drink, do drugs, smoke, or have premarital sex, you can have the courage to say "no."
- If someone threatens you, or if you've been unjustly accused of something you didn't do, turn to God wholeheartedly, and trust in God to get you out of the sticky situation.
- Remember that Shadrach, Mesach, and Abed-nego didn't even have the "smell of fire" (Dan. 3:27) on them, and Daniel didn't even have a scratch from a lion (6:23).
- Be discerning. Trust heavenly intuition.
- Think about the consequences of your ideas, plans, or actions. How will they affect you and others now and later?
- Think about what true friendship is. Be a true friend, and be wise about choosing friends.
- When you've reasoned through all the pros and cons about which college to attend or whether or not to audition for the play or do a sport, turn to God. Allow God to inspire you. Stop your reasoning and follow God-directed intuition.
- Respond appropriately to situations. Think before you act.
- It's important to think things through before reacting.
- You can't allow emotions to make you do things you'll regret later.
- When you over-react, you lose control of yourself and your actions. You might say or do things to your friends, teachers, parents that you don't really mean. You might react before you fully understand the situation or have all the facts.
- Show compassion and concern for others.
- When you see someone down, help pick him or her up.
- If others are stressing out about homework or trying to figure out how to talk with their parents, help them out.
- If a new student comes into a class half-way through the year, offer friendship or help with catching up in the class.
- Listen to others' ideas -- about prom, how to run meetings, ideas for community service.
- Appreciate what others do well. If a debate team member does really well, be glad for her. If a friend gets the lead in a school play and you're not cast, say congratulations.
- If your friends, fellow class officers, or team members mess up, don't make them feel worse by giving them guilt trips. They probably feel guilty enough already.
- Give people space to make mistakes. Give yourself the same room.
- Make forgiving yourself and others a habit. It helps everyone move forward.
- Express humility. Be willing to admit when you're wrong.
- If elected to office, resist the temptation to feel or act better than others.
- Make sure not to be blinded by pride, ambition, or ego. If you are, you'll miss what's right to do.
- If you make a mistake at choosing a theme for a dance, or lead a failed fund-raiser, or hurt someone's feelings, or don't listen to others' viewpoints, admit your mistakes, learn from them, and do better.
- When you're humble, you can hear God telling you what to do.
- Remember that as a leader, your primary purpose is to serve others, not to make others serve you.
- Don't expect praise. You're not in a leadership position to get praise; you're there to make a difference.
- Be willing to change rules, laws, customs, and practices when they are: a)not aligned with God and progress; and b)no longer blessing you and those around you.
- Even if you've always done something a certain way, know that it's okay to change if change will motivate progress.
- Maybe lunch needs to be extended.
- Maybe there's a need to move from closed to open campus or open to closed.
- Maybe the rally guidelines aren't working and need to be changed.
- You don't want to change "just because." You want to make a change for a good reason.
- Know that others are receptive to change when it's the right thing to do.
- The best leader is the best follower of God.
- Like Shadrach, Meshach, Abed-nego, and Daniel, we all can listen to God before we do anything.
- Let's follow the best leader ever -- Jesus -- and trust in God for everything.
Here are two stories of the Hebrew men from the King James Version of the Bible. As you read them, notice how they are good leaders and how they show their kings what is truly requisite in good leadership.
Nebuchadnezzar the king made an image of gold, whose height was threescore cubits, and the breadth thereof six cubits: he set it up in the plain of Dura, in the province of Babylon. Then Nebuchadnezzar the king sent to gather together the princes, the governors, and the captains, the judges, the treasurers, the counsellers, the sheriffs, and all the rulers of the provinces, to come to the dedication of the image which Nebuchadnezzar the king had set up. Then the princes, the governors, and captains, the judges, the treasurers, the counsellers, the sheriffs, and all the rulers of the provinces, were gathered together unto the dedication of the image that Nebuchadnezzar the king had set up; and they stood before the image that Nebuchadnezzar had set up. Then an herald cried aloud, To you it is commanded, O people, nations, and languages, That at what time ye hear the sound of the cornet, flute, harp, sackbut, psaltery, dulcimer, and all kinds of music, ye fall down and worship the golden image that Nebuchadnezzar the king hath set up: And whoso falleth not down and worshippeth shall the same hour be cast into the midst of a burning fiery furnace. Therefore at that time, when all the people heard the sound of the cornet, flute, harp, sackbut, psaltery, and all kinds of music, all the people, the nations, and the languages, fell down and worshipped the golden image that Nebuchadnezzar the king had set up. Wherefore at that time certain Chaldeans came near, and accused the Jews. They spake and said to the king Nebuchadnezzar, O king, live for ever. Thou, O king, hast made a decree, that every man that shall hear the sound of the cornet, flute, harp, sackbut, psaltery, and dulcimer, and all kinds of music, shall fall down and worship the golden image: And whoso falleth not down and worshippeth, that he should be cast into the midst of a burning fiery furnace. There are certain Jews whom thou hast set over the affairs of the province of Babylon, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego; these men, O king, have not regarded thee: they serve not thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up. Then Nebuchadnezzar in his rage and fury commanded to bring Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego. Then they brought these men before the king. Nebuchadnezzar spake and said unto them, Is it true, O Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego, do not ye serve my gods, nor worship the golden image which I have set up? Now if ye be ready that at what time ye hear the sound of the cornet, flute, harp, sackbut, psaltery, and dulcimer, and all kinds of music, ye fall down and worship the image which I have made; well: but if ye worship not, ye shall be cast the same hour into the midst of a burning fiery furnace; and who is that God that shall deliver you out of my hands? Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego, answered and said to the king, O Nebuchadnezzar, we are not careful to answer thee in this matter. If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of thine hand, O king. But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up. Then was Nebuchadnezzar full of fury, and the form of his visage was changed against Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego: therefore he spake, and commanded that they should heat the furnace one seven times more than it was wont to be heated. And he commanded the most mighty men that were in his army to bind Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego, and to cast them into the burning fiery furnace. Then these men were bound in their coats, their hosen, and their hats, and their other garments, and were cast into the midst of the burning fiery furnace. Therefore because the king's commandment was urgent, and the furnace exceeding hot, the flame of the fire slew those men that took up Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego. And these three men, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego, fell down bound into the midst of the burning fiery furnace. Then Nebuchadnezzar the king was astonied, and rose up in haste, and spake, and said unto his counsellers, Did not we cast three men bound into the midst of the fire? They answered and said unto the king, True, O king. He answered and said, Lo, I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire, and they have no hurt; and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God. Then Nebuchadnezzar came near to the mouth of the burning fiery furnace, and spake, and said, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego, ye servants of the most high God, come forth, and come hither. Then Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego, came forth of the midst of the fire. And the princes, governors, and captains, and the king's counsellers, being gathered together, saw these men, upon whose bodies the fire had no power, nor was an hair of their head singed, neither were their coats changed, nor the smell of fire had passed on them. Then Nebuchadnezzar spake, and said, Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego, who hath sent his angel, and delivered his servants that trusted in him, and have changed the king's word, and yielded their bodies, that they might not serve nor worship any god, except their own God. Therefore I make a decree, That every people, nation, and language, which speak any thing amiss against the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego, shall be cut in pieces, and their houses shall be made a dunghill: because there is no other God that can deliver after this sort. Then the king promoted Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego, in the province of Babylon.
It pleased Darius to set over the kingdom an hundred and twenty princes, which should be over the whole kingdom; And over these three presidents; of whom Daniel was first: that the princes might give accounts unto them, and the king should have no damage. Then this Daniel was preferred above the presidents and princes, because an excellent spirit was in him; and the king thought to set him over the whole realm. Then the presidents and princes sought to find occasion against Daniel concerning the kingdom; but they could find none occasion nor fault; forasmuch as he was faithful, neither was there any error or fault found in him. Then said these men, We shall not find any occasion against this Daniel, except we find it against him concerning the law of his God. Then these presidents and princes assembled together to the king, and said thus unto him, King Darius, live for ever. All the presidents of the kingdom, the governors, and the princes, the counsellers, and the captains, have consulted together to establish a royal statute, and to make a firm decree, that whosoever shall ask a petition of any God or man for thirty days, save of thee, O king, he shall be cast into the den of lions. Now, O king, establish the decree, and sign the writing, that it be not changed, according to the law of the Medes and Persians, which altereth not. Wherefore king Darius signed the writing and the decree. Now when Daniel knew that the writing was signed, he went into his house; and his windows being open in his chamber toward Jerusalem, he kneeled upon his knees three times a day, and prayed, and gave thanks before his God, as he did aforetime. Then these men assembled, and found Daniel praying and making supplication before his God. Then they came near, and spake before the king concerning the king's decree; Hast thou not signed a decree, that every man that shall ask a petition of any God or man within thirty days, save of thee, O king, shall be cast into the den of lions? The king answered and said, The thing is true, according to the law of the Medes and Persians, which altereth not. Then answered they and said before the king, That Daniel, which is of the children of the captivity of Judah, regardeth not thee, O king, nor the decree that thou hast signed, but maketh his petition three times a day. Then the king, when he heard these words, was sore displeased with himself, and set his heart on Daniel to deliver him: and he laboured till the going down of the sun to deliver him. Then these men assembled unto the king, and said unto the king, Know, O king, that the law of the Medes and Persians is, That no decree nor statute which the king establisheth may be changed. Then the king commanded, and they brought Daniel, and cast him into the den of lions. Now the king spake and said unto Daniel, Thy God whom thou servest continually, he will deliver thee. And a stone was brought, and laid upon the mouth of the den; and the king sealed it with his own signet, and with the signet of his lords; that the purpose might not be changed concerning Daniel. Then the king went to his palace, and passed the night fasting: neither were instruments of music brought before him: and his sleep went from him. Then the king arose very early in the morning, and went in haste unto the den of lions. And when he came to the den, he cried with a lamentable voice unto Daniel: and the king spake and said to Daniel, O Daniel, servant of the living God, is thy God, whom thou servest continually, able to deliver thee from the lions? Then said Daniel unto the king, O king, live for ever. My God hath sent his angel, and hath shut the lions' mouths, that they have not hurt me: forasmuch as before him innocency was found in me; and also before thee, O king, have I done no hurt. Then was the king exceeding glad for him, and commanded that they should take Daniel up out of the den. So Daniel was taken up out of the den, and no manner of hurt was found upon him, because he believed in his God. And the king commanded, and they brought those men which had accused Daniel, and they cast them into the den of lions, them, their children, and their wives; and the lions had the mastery of them, and brake all their bones in pieces or ever they came at the bottom of the den. Then king Darius wrote unto all people, nations, and languages, that dwell in all the earth; Peace be multiplied unto you. I make a decree, That in every dominion of my kingdom men tremble and fear before the God of Daniel: for he is the living God, and stedfast for ever, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed, and his dominion shall be even unto the end. He delivereth and rescueth, and he worketh signs and wonders in heaven and in earth, who hath delivered Daniel from the power of the lions. So this Daniel prospered in the reign of Darius, and in the reign of Cyrus the Persian.