Daniel 2 describes the story of King Nebuchadnezzar having a dream and then demanding his fortunetellers to not only interpret the dream, but tell him what the dream is (a seemingly impossible task). Because nobody could satisfy his request, the king ordered the entire company of Babylonian wise men to be killed (Daniel 2:12-13).
When Daniel found out what was happening, he asked Arioch, chief of the royal guard, for a little time so he could interpret the dream. Then Daniel and his friends, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah (also known as Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego) prayed to God for mercy in solving the mystery.
That night, God revealed the mystery in a vision to Daniel and he shared it with King Nebuchadnezzar, ultimately resulting in Daniel’s promotion to the “governor over the entire province of Babylon and the chief in charge of all the Babylonian wise men.” (Daniel 2:48)
What did Daniel’s path to promotion look like? How did he move up in the ranks and find favor? He didn’t use what many would consider today to be the standard route to success and advancement. Here are six lessons to take into consideration:
1. He Faced Problems Head On – When Daniel heard about the king’s demands, he didn’t sit around and do nothing…and he certainly didn’t run from it. Lesson: Problems are plentiful–it takes a leader to not only spot the problem, but to do something about it.
2. He Didn’t Take Short Cuts – Recognizing he didn’t have the immediate answer to the mystery, he requested time from the chief of the royal guards. He didn’t take a short cut, but asked for the time necessary to solve the problem. Lesson: Problems are not always solved in an instant. Leaders would rather request time to adequately solve a problem than ignore the problem all together.
3. He Leaned on Divine Wisdom and Expanded His Prayer Base – Daniel came to his friends and, “He asked them to pray to the God of heaven for mercy in solving this mystery so that the four of them wouldn’t be killed along with the whole company of Babylonian wise men.” (Daniel 2:18). Lesson: Leaders recognize that God is the source of all wisdom and readily seek Him in time of need. A habit of prayer often precedes promotions. Furthermore, leaders recognize their work is too great for one man’s prayers…they expand their prayer base by inviting others to partner with them in prayer.
4. He Trusted God to Provide the Answer – During the night God gave Daniel the answer to the mystery in a vision. God is faithful. He cares about every detail of our lives and is ready to give us the insight, wisdom, and understanding necessary to solve problems. Lesson: God can be fully trusted. Leaders can only be promoted to greater responsibility when they prove faithful with current responsibility. The real question is, “How much do you trust God to lead you as you lead others?”
5. He Gave Credit Where Credit was Due – In Daniel 2:19-23 we read Daniel’s response to God for revealing the answer to the mystery. Lesson: Leaders are only promotable when they are grounded in the realization that God alone is the ultimate source of wisdom–they give him all the credit.
6. He Courageously Shared the Solution Despite the Potential Consequences – Daniel met with the king and shared the king’s dream and the interpretation. Daniel acted on what God had given him. This wasn’t easy considering the interpretation. But Daniel took the courageous step to act on what God had shown him. Lesson: Leaders not only seek God for answers, they courageously execute them as well. Promotion does not follow people of inaction.
Let me bring clarity to something: The goal is not to get promoted. Rather, our focus should be developing character and habits that don’t make it difficult to get promoted…should God desire to send that opportunity our way.
So here’s a question: If your boss had the ability and resources to promote you and had the opening to do so, would he? Or let’s make it even more personal–if your boss had the opportunity to hire you all over again, would he?
Leaders that get promoted are leaders who solve problems. They are leaders that add value to their organization by using God-given wisdom to meet real needs and solve tough problems. They don’t run from problems, but rather courageously address them while leaning into God for His strength and wisdom. They give credit where credit is due, don’t take short cuts, and are people of prayer. How promotable are you?