Series: King Darius, the Secular Boss
Ruth Huang—Elizabeth, New Jersey, USA
Working in the world often
involves working under a secular boss, which entails making decisions and
handling problems in secular ways. These “secular ways” may not go against the
teachings of the Bible, but when they do, they become challenges to us in our
It is tough when we are faced with
decisions that test our faith on a day-to-day basis. Most of the time, these
trials may be subtle and harmless at first glance. What we tend to forget is
that Satan often masks himself to be very appealing and innocuous and slowly leads us astray from the truth.
If you are blessed enough to have
an understanding supervisor, it’s usually not a problem to not participate in
anything against your beliefs. On the other hand, if your boss has little to no
respect for your beliefs, it creates many opportunities to compromise and make
decisions that go against your morals or beliefs. It seems that spiritual growth
often involves sacrificing career success.
Living up to Your Ethics
Most career websites will advise
you to steer clear of unethical practices because it will come back to bite you
in the end. A common logical solution to immoral conduct is to back up every
incident with documented evidence and maintain an ethical and professional
attitude at work.
If all else fails,
careerbuilder.com recommends the following: “After analyzing the political landscape in your company,
if you decide the game is one you can’t play, prepare to move on. It’s not
typical, but some organizations actually condone—even promote—dishonest,
ruthless or unethical behavior. The game of office
politics in this situation is not one worth winning.”
Living up to Your Religion
This is sound advice coming from
a secular and moral point of view. Most people who aren’t consumed with the
desire for power and money want to work for a company that makes ethical
decisions. As Christians, there is no question that our career should be
But in addition, we who seek to
abide by the truth face a dilemma that covers a much wider spectrum of
circumstances, ranging from something that is straight-forward, such as working
on the Sabbath, to something that falls in the gray zone, such as participating
in office politics or gossip.
To put in the extra effort that
will earn recognition in front of our managers, do we forgo Sabbath once in a
while without inquiring if Sunday was a possibility? To maintain a pleasant
working atmosphere and camaraderie among fellow coworkers, do we indulge in
office gossip or take sides in trivial office politics? Do our colleagues know
not to tell dirty jokes in front of us because we are Christian?
Although it is easy to put the
dos and don’ts of being ethical in writing, it is not always easy to put them
into action when we encounter a difficult situation. Therefore, it is important
to equip ourselves with God’s teachings to prepare for common and uncommon
One Bible character whom we often turn to as an example of maintaining a strong
faith while working successfully in the world is Daniel. Let’s look into how he
dealt with his secular boss and colleagues.
LESSONS FROM DANIEL
Daniel was a successful governor
and one of King Darius’ elite. King Darius was a great boss who respected and
favored Daniel above his colleagues. But spiritually, King Darius did not know
the one true God and consequently signed a decree that was at odds with
The decree stated that for thirty
days anyone who petitioned to any god or man except for King Darius would be
cast into the den of lions. Even though the king did not mean any harm, he did
not understand Daniel’s beliefs and endangered both Daniel’s career and
Put God Above
Daniel could have made it easy
for himself and bowed down to the king during those thirty days. However, he
chose to go against the decree and continue to offer prayers and thanks to his
God. Daniel put full faith in God and did not worry about what his colleagues
would think or what the consequences would be.
When faced with such a situation,
whom do we choose? God or mammon? Sometimes, we waver and choose God only when
it is easy and convenient—only when it requires no sacrifice. But the Bible
states it is impossible to serve both God and mammon (Mt 6:24).
We need to be unconditionally
certain about the one we serve, not only when the timing is right. When faced
with a dilemma like Daniel’s, we must acknowledge in our hearts that any raise
or promotion in a career is temporary, but the treasure we store in heaven by
honoring and worshipping God is eternal.
Daniel was willing to suffer the
consequences of disobeying the king’s command. As a result, he was thrown into
the den of lions.
However, Daniel’s faith in God
had a solid foundation that made his decision both effortless and immovable. He
was completely confident that God would take care of him in life or death and
was content with the fact that it could go either way.
When we are asked to choose God
or mammon, let us choose God. Put God above the boss.
Don’t Compromise Your Beliefs
To refrain from compromise during
a trying time is a very difficult thing to do. Daniel’s attitude is exemplary
because it reminds us how important it is to do what is biblically correct and
stand by it.
He did not say, “I know God is
the only God in my life. The important thing is that I believe it in my heart,
because God can see my heart. I’ll just follow the decree to keep the others
quiet. In doing so, I can save my life to continue working for God.”
On the surface, this train of
thought may seem wise, but on a deeper, more fundamental level, it is
distorting two basic truths: there is only one true God, and we should not
worship any other god. If a Christian cannot exhibit through actions what is in
his heart, then his faith is truly dead (Jas 2:17).
In addition, because Daniel held
such a high position and was favored by the king, his colleagues were envious
and plotted against him. Without letting pride over his status drive a need to
be vindicated, he willingly submitted to authorities and let God have full
control of his future. We should not dwell on how unfairly we’ve been treated,
but let God handle those who wrong us.
Having the faith and courage to
stand up for what we believe in, instead of cowardly compromising to save face,
can only come from the power and mercy of God.
God is faithful and He will not
give us anything that we cannot bear, but we cannot just wait and do nothing
and expect God to take care of our problems. We need to seek God’s guidance
through tribulations and failure and remember to praise and give glory to Him
when we garner recognition and success.
For Daniel, there was no dilemma.
He was in the king’s high graces because he had an “excellent spirit” within
him. He didn’t step on anyone to get there nor did he ever compromise his
beliefs to appear more desirable to the king.
Stay on Top of Spiritual
The king’s decree did not stop
Daniel’s custom of praying to God three times a day. He chose to accept the
consequences rather than bow down to man. We must follow Daniel’s example and
cultivate our spirituality so that the decision to sacrifice secular gain for
things that are eternal is an easy one to make.
Daniel’s life of prayer is
evident in the decisions he made in his career. He was very successful, and he
knew God gave him his success. He did not once doubt or get frustrated when his
colleagues plotted to have him terminated. He remained peaceful and gave thanks
and supplication to God.
Daily cultivation reaps greater
benefits than prayer and scripture reading on random days or only when we are
feeling down. We must spend the time and energy to build an intimate
relationship with God. Without daily cultivation, the line between what is
biblically correct and secularly reasonable can become indistinguishable,
causing us to risk compromising our entire faith.
Daniel’s daily spiritual
cultivation helped him maintain a peaceful heart during a very stressful time.
His job and status could have been taken away from him and his life instantly
over. In the end, he was not eaten by the lions; instead, his enemies were
devoured. Daniel continued to prosper and God’s name was honored and praised
throughout all the land.
FOCUS ON THINGS ABOVE
It would have been hard to make
the right decision if Daniel did not maintain an intimate relationship with
God. It is hard to accept being laid off, demoted, or patronized. Many secular
concepts focus on individualism and empowering oneself. It is easy to get
caught up in these concepts and lose focus.
But as Paul reminds us, our focus
should be on “Set[ting] your minds on things above,
not on things on the earth” (Col 3:2), for “the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which
are not seen are eternal” (2
After the incident, a new decree
was issued and it was clear to King Darius, a Gentile, that the God Daniel
worshipped was the God that the entire kingdom must fear, because He was the
living God that remained steadfast forever. Daniel’s boss, who did not
previously know God, now knew that God’s kingdom was indestructible and
enduring. Daniel was able to glorify God and edify others by focusing through
spiritual cultivation on things that were eternal.
Doing well in our career to
support our family and ourselves is one of our duties. But sometimes we are so
engulfed by getting that promotion or raise that we forget that God is our
ultimate Provider. Our vision of things that are eternal becomes blurred
because our hearts have leaned more towards mammon than to God due to lack of
To ask God for the strength and
courage that Daniel displayed in his most difficult hours is not an impossible
thing to do. We do not need to be a prophet or have deep spiritual wisdom to
overcome the trials we face in society. Entrusting our careers and lives into
God’s hands takes only a mustard seed of faith that can move mountains. May God
give us attributes like those of Daniel so that we can embrace our status as
But you are a chosen generation, a royal
priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people,
that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into
His marvelous light. (1 Pet 2:9)