I think it’s pretty safe to say that we live in a time where finding true followers of Christ is a difficult task. Finding a Christian in a leadership position is even more difficult. Needle in a haystack? No, I think it’s probably more appropriate to say that it’s like finding a platinum needle in a mountain of silver needles.
What’s an even greater challenge to serving under leaders who are not followers of Christ is the fact that we serve under people who are so adamantly opposed to the Word of God.
So as Christians, how are we suppose to work under such leadership? How am I, a follower of Christ, expected to be obedient to a leader whose moral compass is pointed in the opposite direction?
Or am I at all?
I think that’s the question we’re all asking – Am I expected to serve a master who does not serve The Master?
Let’s take a look at what God has shown us in His word.
I think that we find a fantastic representation of this in Daniel 1-2. King Nebuchadnezzar (side note – could you imagine having to learn to write that name in kindergarten? Yikes!) Anyway, besides his excruciatingly long name, King Nebuchadnezzar clearly had some issues.
First of all, he was a very ungodly king. Not only did he want people to worship him & only him, he actually demanded that anyone who did not bow down to the golden statue of himself to be thrown into the fire. Wow. That’s harsh. And this is after he had ordered all of the wise men to be killed because none of them could tell him what he dreamed.
That’s right – they couldn’t tell him WHAT he dreamed. We’re not talking about what his dream meant, here. Oh he had plenty of interpreters around him who could have interpreted his dream for him – he just didn’t want to tell them what it was. So because no one could, he ordered them all to be executed.
Now how would a Christian be able to serve under such blatantly ungodly rule?
Well, I think God has given us a perfect illustration for how to do so through Daniel (aka Belteshazzar), Shadrach, Meshach, & Abednego. (Seriously, I’m so glad we have names like “Sue” & “Bob” now.)
Let’s be clear, in this time followers of God were not known as “Christians” because Christ had not come as of yet. But, for the sake of keeping things simple, I will refer to them as such throughout the remainder of this article.
When the king first summoned the men of babylon to come and serve under him, the men talked with the officials and insisted that they did not want to defile their bodies by eating the king’s food or drinking his wine. The officials weren’t so keen on the idea, but Daniel made a compelling, though respectful argument.
So Daniel said to the guard whom the chief official had assigned to Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, “Please test your servants for 10 days. Let us be given vegetables to eat and water to drink. Then examine our appearance and the appearance of the young men who are eating the king’s food, and deal with your servants based on what you see.” He agreed with them about this and tested them for 10 days. At the end of 10 days they looked better and healthier than all the young men who were eating the king’s food. So the guard continued to remove their food and the wine they were to drink and gave them vegetables.
Later, because God had blessed the men with such wisdom, knowledge, and understanding, King Nebuchadnezzar simply could not find anyone who would compare to them. The four men were brought on as consultants to the king.
Now wait. Just hold up one second. Wouldn’t it have been easier for these men to remain faithful to God a little bit further away from the king? Why on earth would these men want to step anywhere near the limelight knowing how King Nebuchadnezzar would react to their beliefs?
Either these guys have a lot of faith – or they aren’t very smart. Today, we’d probably accuse them of the latter, but as we read in Daniel 1:17 these were wise men, capable of making great decisions.
Now here are these four men who were strong, solid followers of God set in very visible positions to serve under a king who was as far removed from God as he could have possibly been. There was no hiding their faith. There was no possibility of skirting the issue. They would be found out. In fact, in one of the first illustrations of the interactions between King Nebuchadnezzar and Daniel, Daniel reveals boldly that it was God who gave him the dream and the interpretation.
But there is a God in heaven who reveals mysteries, and He has let King Nebuchadnezzar know what will happen in the last days.
(Daniel 2:28 [a])
Your Majesty, you are king of kings. The God of heaven has given you sovereignty, power, strength, and glory.
The great God has told the king what will happen in the future. The dream is true, and its interpretation certain.
(Daniel 2:45 [b])
Finally, after Daniel gives King Nebuchadnezzar the interpretation of the dream that God had revealed to him, the king actually shouts praises to God!
The king said to Daniel, “Your God is indeed God of gods, Lord of kings, and a revealer of mysteries, since you were able to reveal this mystery.”
Wow! The Bible doesn’t give us any clues as to how Daniel responded to the the king after this, but if I had been Daniel in that time, I would have probably passed out! I’d have been certain the hammer was about to drop down on me right then and there. But it didn’t. God provided Daniel with the knowledge – the words – and the protection to push His message through to the king.
Now we know how the rest of this story goes.
(If you don’t, I challenge you to read the full story of King Nebuchadnezzar in the book of Daniel. It really is a great story about the mighty power of God!)
… but in the end, King Nebuchadnezzar lifts up praises to our mighty God!
“But at the end of those days, I, Nebuchadnezzar, looked up to heaven, and my sanity returned to me. Then I praised the Most High and honored and glorified Him who lives forever:
For His dominion is an everlasting dominion,and His kingdom is from generation to generation.
All the inhabitants of the earth are counted as nothing,
and He does what He wants with the army of heaven
and the inhabitants of the earth.”
There is no one who can hold back His hand or say to Him, “What have You done?”
How absolutely amazing! Oh, to see that same transformation in our leaders today!
So I started out this article with the question:
How am I, a follower of Christ, expected to serve under the leadership of someone opposed to Christ?
What I learned from studying Daniel is that we must be:
1 | Devoted
Our entire lives must be devoted to serving God & fulfilling His purpose in our lives – no matter what that may cost us. Sometimes, it may seem that the fire God is calling us to walk through is a whole lot hotter than what we can handle. And it may be – but He can reach in and save us anytime He chooses.
2 | Authentic
We must be real. We cannot pretend to be perfect just so that we “put on a good face” for the Kingdom of God. We can’t pretend to be anything that we aren’t without throwing up some serious red flags. People can tell when we are being anything other than our absolute authentic selves. In being honest about who we truly are and the struggles that we go through, we show people that we’re no different than they are, we have just been blessed with the glorious saving-knowledge of His amazing grace!
3 | Discerning
We must be wise and understand there are times when God calls us to be silent and still while waiting on Him to direct our steps. We must use the discernment that God has gifted us each with and listen to the words He places in our hearts & on our minds. We must listen – and in order to recognize His voice, we must know His voice. We will only know the sound of God’s voice if we are in constant communication with Him: In His word daily & in constant prayer and communication with Him.
4 | Courageous
We must be bold and have the courage to speak up when God calls us to do so. We cannot fear the repercussions of those words because our fear will stop us dead in our tracks every single time. Like Daniel who spoke up and praised God for His goodness even in the face of fire and the lion’s den, we must trust that God will provide what we need to fulfill His purpose in that moment.
5 | Humble
Finally, we must show humility in our walk. We are not better than, wiser than, or more gifted than any non-believer out there. In fact, without God’s marvelous grace, we would still be in the very same state of depravity of those who are opposed to God. Before God reached down to you and I, we were absolutely lost and without any ability to save ourselves. We must recognize that being a child of God is a gift of grace. It is nothing we earned on our own behalf. It was not because we were smart enough to choose Him – but because He was gracious enough to choose us.
In the end, we cannot sacrifice our values, our beliefs, who we are – but we can serve as a living testimony to the power of Christ in our lives. With each and every step we take in our walk, we can shout to world what an awesome and mighty God we serve! And maybe – just maybe – the leaders around us will begin to follow Him too.