The Gateway Seven Series
Study series on seven books of the Bible, covering seven genres, with a whole-life discipleship focus...
In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim king of Judah, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came to Jerusalem and besieged it. And the Lord delivered Jehoiakim king of Judah into his hand, along with some of the articles from the temple of God. These he carried off to the temple of his god in Babylonia and put in the treasure house of his god.
Then the king ordered Ashpenaz, chief of his court officials, to bring into the king’s service some of the Israelites from the royal family and the nobility— young men without any physical defect, handsome, showing aptitude for every kind of learning, well informed, quick to understand, and qualified to serve in the king’s palace. He was to teach them the language and literature of the Babylonians. The king assigned them a daily amount of food and wine from the king’s table. They were to be trained for three years, and after that they were to enter the king’s service.
Among those who were chosen were some from Judah: Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah. The chief official gave them new names: to Daniel, the name Belteshazzar; to Hananiah, Shadrach; to Mishael, Meshach; and to Azariah, Abednego.
Many young people I meet are curious about how to choose the right first job or career. A common problem is how to know what you’ll enjoy at work until you’ve begun. With so much to choose from, what should you go for? Unless your training has already been vocationally geared to, say, medicine, teaching, or farming – where do you start?
Daniel did not have such choices. At a young age he was captured by a foreign army, exiled to a new country, and had a whole series of life changes to deal with – even before he started training for what became his career. He had to leave his family and adapt to a new city. His name was changed. He was expected at least outwardly to adopt a new belief system. He had to learn a new language and be educated in it. Yet in all this his faith in the Lord God he worshipped was not shaken. He took his faith to work and lived his life in the light of what he believed.
There is wisdom for us in Daniel, whether we’re young employees or older employers. Wisdom from years back which still applies today precisely because humans remain human and the Lord God we serve remains faithfully the same. That’s what this blog series and our Daniel Bible Day and Evenings in March are all about.
Yet today, as we hopefully move out of 24 months of pandemic, the world of work has totally changed. People at all stages of their careers – including many of us – have seen more of their bedrooms or living rooms than the organisations that employ them. What used to be clear boundaries between work, leisure, recreation, sport, and family life have often blurred. Last year one young banker said to me: ‘Steve, last week my wife and I never left the house. We both work from home and get our groceries delivered. Our life has shrunk to our small apartment!’ There have been new challenges with this shrinking of our lives – challenges to our mental health and wellbeing, often caused by a lack of hope and purpose, together with the withdrawal symptoms that come with lessened physical connection.
Is this the way we must live and work going forward? Well, there is great news from a captive young man, working in a foreign land, in a foreign language and given an alien name. It is still possible to be ourselves. To discover who we are in relation to the one who created us. And not just to survive, but to thrive with excellence in the things God has given us to do and with the people the Lord has sent us to; yes, even in our workplaces (virtual or not).
Work Forum Director, LICC