In a previous post I posed the question, “Are you promotable?” Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were promoted because of their immense devotion to God, personal growth, and integrity. But there’s a flip side to the story. While these young leaders were promoted, there were kings who were demoted. When I look at their story, I find three reasons that led to their demotion:
1. Sin & Idolatry – In Daniel 5, King Belshazzar held a great feast with 1,000 nobles and, “They drank the wine and drunkenly praised their gods made of gold and silver, bronze and iron, wood and stone” (Daniel 5:4, The Message). At that moment, a hand appeared and began writing a message on the wall, scaring the king to say the least. Only Daniel was able to interpret the writing and warned of the king’s demise–Belshazzar was murdered. Lesson: The stage is set for demotion and unintended consequences when sin and idolatry rule our hearts.
2. Pride & Abuse of Power – Both King Belshazzar and his father Nebuchadnezzar faced demotion because of their pride and abuse of power. Check out these piercing words spoken by Daniel to Belshazzar:
“The High God gave your father Nebuchadnezzar, a great kingdom and a glorious reputation. Because God made him so famous, people from everywhere, whatever their race, color, and creed, were totally intimidated by him. He killed or spared people on whim. He promoted or humiliated people capriciously. He developed a big head and a hard spirit. Then God knocked him off his high horse and stripped him of his fame. He was thrown out of human company, lost his mind, and lived like a wild animal. He ate grass like an ox and was soaked by heaven’s dew until he learned his lesson: that the High God rules human kingdoms and puts anyone he wants in charge. You are his son and have known all this, yet you’re as arrogant as he ever was. Look at you, setting yourself up in competition against the Master of heaven!” (Daniel 5:18-22).
It doesn’t get much more straight forward than that. Lesson: Leadership is a stewardship from God that requires humility and the appropriate use of God-given authority.
3. Delayed Repentance – After Daniel had interpreted King Nebuchadnezzar’s dream (Daniel 3), warning him of the demotion that was to come because of Nebuchadnezzar’s pride, there was no repentance or change. Daniel 4:28-31 says, “All this happened to King Nebuchadnezzar. Just twelve months later, he was walking on the balcony of the royal palace in Babylon and boasted, ‘Look at this, Babylon the great! And I built it all by myself, a royal palace adequate to display my honor and glory!’ The words were no sooner out of his mouth than a voice out of heaven spoke:
‘This is the verdict on you, King Nebuchadnezzar: Your kingdom is taken from you.'” Why didn’t the king repent sooner. After Daniel had interpreted the dream, he even told the king, “take my advice: Make a clean break with your sins and start living for others. Quit your wicked life and look after the needs of the down-and-out. Then you will continue to have a good life.” (Daniel 4:27).
God gave him an entire year to turn from his pride yet he only fell deeper into it. It wasn’t until he spent seven years in the wilderness that he finally repented. Lesson: Be quick to repent, embrace humility, and practice servant-leadership.
These are tough lessons, but in God’s kingdom, a life of humility, purity, and servanthood are what God looks for. Demotion tends to follow sin, pride, abuse of power, and delayed repentance. Are you demotable?