We can identify the six major responsibilities of godly employees by examining an event in the life of Daniel. In Daniel chapter 6 we are told that Darius, the king of Babylon, appointed 120 men to govern the kingdom, and three men – one of whom was Daniel – to supervise these governors. Then King Darius decided to promote Daniel to oversee the entire kingdom. Daniel’s fellow employees were jealous and wanted to get rid of him. First they tried to make him look bad at his job. After this failed, they convinced King Darius to make a law saying that everyone in the kingdom would be required to worship only the king or be put to death via the lions’ den.
But Daniel, continuing to trust God, worshiped Him anyway and was thrown to the lions. The Lord then rescued this godly employee by sending His angel to shut the lions’ mouths. Here are six characteristics of a godly employee (or student) as seen in Daniel.
1. ABSOLUTE HONESTY
Daniel 6:4 tells us that his fellow employees “could find no ground of accusation or evidence of corruption” in Daniel. Think of Abe Lincoln times ten – so honest that even his enemies could find no blame.
We discover the second characteristic of the godly employee in Daniel 6:4.“ . . . he was faithful.” The godly employee needs to establish the goal of being faithful and excellent in his work and then work hard to attain that goal. Faithful people are rare and are usually treasured by their employers. So, if you work on this trait, you’ll have a leg up on a lot of other potential employees.
The godly employee is a person of prayer.“Now when Daniel knew that the document was signed (restricting worship to the king alone), . . . he continued kneeling on his knees three times a day, praying and giving thanks before his God, as he had been doing previously” (Daniel 6:10).
Daniel’s job was to govern the most powerful country of his day. Few of us will ever be faced with responsibilities that big or time consuming. But Daniel, even with so much to do, knew the importance and priority of prayer. If you are not praying consistently, your work will not be as good as it could be.
4. HONORING YOUR EMPLOYER
“Daniel spoke to the king, ‘O King lives forever!” (Daniel 6:21). What a remarkable response from Daniel. The king, his employer, had been deceived and was forced to sentence Daniel to the lions’ den. Think how natural it would have been to say something like, “You loser! The God who sent His angel to shut the lions’ mouths is going to punish you!” But Daniel’s reaction was to honor his boss.
The godly employee always honors his superior. First Peter 2:18 reads, “Servants (employees), be submissive to your masters (employer) with all respect, not only to those who are good and gentle, but also to those who are unreasonable.” One way to honor your employer is to never participate in gossip behind your employer’s back, even if he or she is not an ideal person.
If you have ever had a friend who covered for you, or stood up for you when someone was talking trash about you, you know how honoring that is. That person will take a place in your heart. If you honor your employer, you will do the same in theirs.
5. HONORING FELLOW STUDENTS/ EMPLOYEES
People will play social politics in the never-ending competition for popularity and promotion. Some may even try to have you fired from your job. Don’t feel too bad if this happens; Daniel’s peers even tried to murder him! Despite this, there is no evidence that Daniel did anything but honor his fellow employees.
Never bad-mouth a fellow employee behind his or her back.“Do not slander a slave (employee) to his master (employer), or he will curse you and you will be found guilty” (Proverbs 30:10).
The godly person should avoid office politics and manipulation to secure a promotion. Your superior does not control your promotion; the Lord Himself makes that determination. We can be content in our job by striving for faithfulness, honoring superiors, and encouraging our fellow employees. Having done this, we can know that Christ will promote us if and when He chooses.
6. VERBALIZING YOUR FAITH
King Darius would never have known about God if Daniel had not talked about his faith at appropriate moments during the normal routine of his job.“ . . . the king spoke and said to Daniel, ‘Daniel, servant of the living God, has your God, whom you constantly serve, been able to deliver you from the lions?’” (Daniel 6:20). Darius wanted to know whether Daniel’s God actually had concern for his servant – and the power to save him.
The King would not have been so strongly influenced by Daniel’s faith if he had not observed him fulfilling his responsibilities with honesty and faithfulness. Listen to what he says:“I make a decree that in all the dominion of my kingdom men are to fear and tremble before the God of Daniel; for He is the living God and enduring forever, and His kingdom is one which will not be destroyed, and His dominion will be forever” (Daniel 6:26). What a strong witness and influence Daniel had!
Daniel influenced his employer, one of the most powerful people in the world, to believe in the only true and living God. You have that same opportunity in your own God-given environment of school and work. Let me say it another way. A job well done earns you the right to tell others with whom you work about Christ. As we view our work from God’s perspective, frustration can turn into contentment from a job well done, and boredom will turn into excitement over the prospect of introducing others to the Savior.
OTHER WORK ISSUES
There are several other important aspects of work.
Scripture does not condemn a strong desire to do or achieve something. Paul was ambitious.“We also have as our ambition . . . to be pleasing to Him. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may be recompensed for his deeds” (2 Corinthians 5:9-10).
What is strongly discouraged is selfish ambition. “[God] will render to each person according to his deeds . . . to those who are selfishly ambitious . . . wrath and indignation” (Romans 2:6-8). “But if you have . . . selfish ambition in your heart, do not be arrogant and so lie against the truth. This wisdom is not that which comes down from above, but is earthly, natural, demonic. For where . . . selfish ambition exists, there is disorder and every evil thing” (James 3:14-16). “But you, are you seeking great things for yourself? Do not seek them” (Jeremiah 45:5).
We see many warnings against selfish ambition in these verses. It’s easy to see selfish ambition in people who claw their way to high positions without caring who they hurt along the way – like Frozen’s Prince Hans of the Southern Isles. Selfish ambition has been the cause of much evil in the world. Not only do our relationships suffer from it, but it is not good for our own hearts: we are designed to glorify God, not ourselves.
The motivation for our hard work should be a longing to please Christ. Our goal should be to grow more and more faithful in using the possessions and skills given to us. We should strive to please the Lord in our work by fulfilling our job responsibilities as well as we can.
Procrastination is a character flaw that causes people to put off what they should do now and save it for a more convenient time. Laziness, fear, and perfectionism are all contributors to this character flaw. We can’t do our best work if we put things off until the last minute and then have to race against the clock, often on the edge of exhaustion, to finish a project. Our output ends up being unrefined – sloppy compared to what it could have and should have been.
The Bible has many examples of godly people who were not procrastinators, and one of my favorite examples is Boaz. Naomi, the mother-in-law of Ruth, made this comment about Ruth’s future husband, Boaz: “Wait, my daughter, until you know how the matter turns out; for the man will not rest until he has settled it today” (Ruth 3:18). Boaz clearly had the reputation of a person who was faithful to act promptly.
Here are some practical suggestions to help overcome procrastination:
1. List the things you need to do each day.
2. Prayerfully review and prioritize the list according to the tasks you need to accomplish first.
3. Finish the first task on your list before starting the second. Often that first task is the most difficult or the one you fear the most.
4. Ask the Lord to give you courage, remembering Philippians 4:13, “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.”