In our story today Daniel is in one of those difficult situations and his leadership ability is a model for us to learn from.
Background – Daniel 2:1-12
Nebuchadnezzar had a troubling dream and it scared him. He called all the advisors together for a meeting. He demanded they interpret the dream for him and that they do it not knowing what the dream was. He added to their situation by warning them that if they didn’t come up with an interpretation he was going to kill the lot.
Well as they scattered to their respective places the word spread in the advisory community that a red alert – code blue was in effect.
Daniel was a remnant member of the advisor community and would be swept up in the net for execution if no interpretation was forthcoming. Daniel conferred with his three Hebrew associates encouraging them to prayer. Daniel then waited for God to reveal the dream and save the lives of the advisors.
God answered his prayer, gave him a replay of the dream and the interpretation. He went to the king with the interpretation and averted disaster.
Burden: Life free from testing is not part of the human condition. You will be tested and how you lead in times of crisis is the real evaluation of your leadership
Basic Truth: It takes a real life crisis to test your leadership
Burning Question What should faithful leaders do in times of crisis?
Seek to understand before being understood Daniel 2:14-15
A lesser leader would have been primarily concerned at the unfairness of this situation. Not Daniel. He turned his entire attention to listening and understanding. Daniel did not allow his personality or his safety to be his biggest concern. He sought to understand the situation above all.
Leaders who lead through crises focus on one thing at a time. There will be time later to be understood.
Sea captains are known as strong leaders. When in battle on the sea or with the sea they make decisions based on their experience, training and intuition. They care little for understanding, they demand action. They know time will judge their careers by the ships that they did not loose and the battles they win. They will explain things later.
John Wayne said in the movie The Undefeated after he had been questioned by some young soldier, “I’ve done more explaining to you than I have in a long time.” In the movie he was used to leading and not explaining.
#1. There will be times when you will be misunderstood as you lead. Being second guessed is part of the job description of a leader.
#2. When you lead in crisis turn your focus completely to understanding the problem.
TS: You will not always be understood as you lead, but that is not why you lead.
Next we will focus on a strategy that will help you understand the problem even better.
Leading through crisis demands we focus on the root not the fruit
16At this, Daniel went in to the king and asked for time, so that he might interpret the dream for him.
The root of the problem was in the king’s heart. In all honesty the deepest roots of this situation began with God. Daniel went to the king and asked for time to seek out God’s help.
It is hard to focus on the root of the problem when the fruit is falling all around you and hitting you on the head, but the ultimate solution lies in the root.
How do you solve the world wide terror crisis we are all living with? The Palestinians and the Israeli’s are proving that an eye for an eye makes a lot of blind people and does not end hostilities.
I love the story of the church that put in a new baptistery. When first filled it ran over and flooded the church. The elders established study groups to find a way to get the water out of the church. They bought better mops and offered classes in efficient and effective mopping strategies. They had mopping meetings and formed small mopping groups. Finally after months of wet church floors they decided to buy everyone rubber boots. What was the root of the problem? Turn off the water!
#1. When you lead and a crisis erupts find a way to look past the water on the floor and see why it is there.
#2. If you are trying to lead a family through a crisis family system studies are good, but first find out why the problem is out of control and stop it.
#3. If your career is in crisis don’t spend your time and energy dealing with the fall out of the situation before you dig into the problem.
TS: Usually when these first two steps are taken a solution presents itself. When you have an answer you are only beginning to solve the problem.
Crisis leadership demands careful and concise communication Daniel 2:17
Daniel realized the need to seed the solution in the hearts of as many as he could. He was careful to keep everyone around him on the same page.
There is a temptation here to run forward with the solution and fix the problem before we communicate clearly with those who need to know.
The leadership team here at Evergreen has given careful consideration to this problem over the years and work very hard on communicating with the church. We have made some major blunders in the past, but I personally believe we are doing much better.
We have a rule we use every week here. It says—“If you want to communicate with the church seek to say it five times in five different ways.”
#1. When in crisis, especially at the beginning, spend more time listening and communicating than acting.
#2. If your home is in crisis you have to start by talking.
#3. If you are leading a business, firm or institution through a crisis learn the value of communicating.
TS: There is one primary way through crisis that supersedes all.
Pray above all else Daniel 2:18-23
Great leaders don’t waste their time and energy on things that they have no control over, but focus on positive activity.
God was in control of this crisis and it was to in Him that the solution would have to originate.
#1. Pray that God would send the solution to the crisis
#2. Pray that you will be faithful to apply His solution
TS: After you have sought understanding and looked to the root of the problem, communicated as well as you know how to do and finally put it in the hands of God there is only one thing left to do.
Give faith a chance – Daniel 2:27-28
What do I want you to know?
There is a God in heaven?
What do I want you to do? Put Him in the very center of your crisis
Introduction: Have you ever faced an impossible situation for which there seemed to be no answer? How we deal with unreasonable demands depends on the source of our strength.
Proposition: Daniel’s predicament reminds us that circumstances of life cannot be conquered by our own abilities. We need the ultimate “out-source” of prayer.
1. Unreasonable Demands are made, Daniel 2:1-13
As king of the greatest world power in its day, Nebuchadnezzar could demand—and get—whatever he wanted.
Some things will evade even kings, things like peace of mind & heart
It’s bad enough to have a nightmare
It’s worse when we wake up frightened & do not know why.
It is possible that the king could not honestly remember the dream, but sensed its consequences.
Or, Nebuchadnezzar may have known the dream & wanted to test his advisors
These were “yes men” who would pacify the king by telling him what he wanted to hear.
Either way, he had them over a barrel.
W/O knowing the dream, they were afraid to say anything. If what they said did not match what the king remembered, their fakery would be exposed. Their protests were immediate. “Impossible! Unreasonable! No one can do this!” (Daniel 2:10).
Nebuchadnezzar’s response was harsh: execution of his advisors, from the top down.
2. Wise Inquiries are voiced, Daniel 2:14-18.
1) When Daniel heard the edict, he spoke to the Commander of the guard.
He investigated the problem with “wisdom & tact”.
He asked why the punishment was so hard (Daniel 2:14-15).
He was so sure of his relationship with God that he committed himself to find the answer
Here’s the difference between Daniel & the king’s magicians:
They followed the gods that live among men, and Daniel followed the one true God who created all men.
How many people today turn to leaders, teachers, & role models who only know the gods of this world: what they can taste, touch, & see?
A crisis is often just God’s opportunity!
If we walk in obedience & fellowship with Him, God will demonstrate His power & love.
2) He spoke to his friends. He did not waste time on a pity party. He did not get involved in a protest march. Daniel sought out those who he knew loved him; those he could confide in; those he trusted. Daniel & his friends prepared themselves for battle on their knees. Although Daniel had enough faith in God to tell the commander he would have an interpretation of the dream in the morning, he & his friends did not rest on their faith.
3) They fervently pursued God! This prayer meeting was fervent, intense, and urgent.
The stakes were high; this was a matter of life or death! They sought God, & he answered. During the night, the dream & interpretation came to Daniel in a vision.
3. Godly Success is given, Daniel 2:19-28. Daniel’s immediate response: Thanksgiving!
Only God allows kings & kingdoms to stand (Daniel 2:21). As Daniel’s report went through the customary channels, each one claimed some of the credit! Daniel took no credit; instead he gave it all to God. Man cannot do this; God, however, can!
Another way to look at Daniel 2: “Pass the P’s, please!”
There was a problem (Daniel 2:1-13)
There was prayer (Daniel 2:17-18)
There was praise (Daniel 2:19-23)
There was proclamation (Daniel 2:24-45)
There was promotion (Daniel 2:46-49)
(from Virginia Smith, “Working With an Attitude” Standard Publishing, c. 2000)
Conclusion: Since God “is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine” (Ephesians 3:20), we cannot be shocked when prayer is answered! Rather, we need to willingly lean upon the strength of Jesus Christ to fulfill the opportunities answered prayer affords.
II. MAN’S INABILITY REQUIRES GOD’S SUFFICIENCY — TRUE WISDOM AND POWER COME FROM THE SOVEREIGN GOD
Background: This chapter exposes man’s inability (his limitations) and God’s gracious sufficiency. In himself man is bankrupt in the realm of spiritual wisdom and power. We bring nothing to the table. However, the Sovereign God, the one who controls all of history, the one who possesses all wisdom and power, graciously gives wisdom and power to His servants as they need it.
A. MAN’S INABILITY:
1. The Inability of Man’s Power (Daniel 2:1-6) Picture of Nebuchad.
He was frustrated. Despite all of his power he did not have the capacity for knowing and controlling the future. Therefore, despite his present success, he could not be assured of the permanency of his kingdom. Even men of power have needs and can never be self-sufficient. Zechariah 4:6 — “Not by might nor by power (of men), but by My Spirit says the Lord of Hosts”. Our work for God cannot be forced; it depends on God’s timing, His purposes, His granting of favor and fruit
2. The Inability of Man’s Wisdom — educated men and spiritual imposters (who do not have a vital relationship with God); Picture of the class of magicians — the wise men priests who served in the court of Nebuchad.
a. The Best Education is Insufficient, our culture tends to think education is the answer to every problem.
b. The Best Experience is Insufficient — they had been offering counsel for many years
c. The Failure of Man’s Wisdom is Exposed in Time of Crisis
1) Opportunity was not the problem — they were the first ones called in by the king and asked to help.
2) They had been masquerading as “servants” of the king, but really they were serving their own selfish interests (Daniel 2:4)
3) They tried to conceal their inability by redefining their mission (decreasing the difficulty of the task)
4) They hid behind a polite, religious facade
5) They promised much more than they could deliver
6) They feared a strict accountability (Daniel 2:5-6)
they were not accustomed to playing for such high stakes
7) They resort to stalling when pressed for results (Daniel 2:7-8)
(they believe that given enough time they can confuse people into thinking that there has been some progress).
8) They support one another in their deception and falsehood
9) When finally exposed, they seek to justify their inability
a) The task is too difficult for any man (Why didn’t they just confess this at the beginning)?
You have asked the impossible and the unreasonable
b) There is no access to divine revelation (Daniel 2:11)
they maintain the existence of their gods and yet the helplessness of their gods to communicate to man. These men are not channels for divine communication
10) They deserve the immediate wrath of the king (Daniel 2:12-13)
3. The Inability of Genuine Spiritual Leaders (in themselves)
Picture of Daniel — God’s Servant
a) The importance of an honest and prudent approach
He didn’t rant and rave and pout: “Why didn’t you come to me first?” Daniel 2:14-15
(we must deal with people wisely and lovingly in order to gain a hearing).
b) The importance of confessing our need publicly, He confessed His need in 5 areas — He needed these 5 things in order to accomplish the task:
1) Insight into the nature of the problem and the urgency of of the situation
2) Time to ask God for wisdom (Daniel 2:16). Required great boldness to make such a tough request to the king after the stalling of the other magicians had just been rebuked.
3) Support of other godly men in corporate prayer.
4) Compassion and grace of God (nothing guaranteed).
5) Revelation from God of the mystery.
c) The importance of giving God all of the credit.
Daniel’s response of thanksgiving (Daniel 2:19) showed his inability.
He was quick to give God all of the credit. He did not represent himself to the king as possessing special inherent powers. Maintain the distinction between God and man. Some leaders forget their inability after God has worked thru them for repeated successes. The people must make sure they are trusting the resources of the All-Sufficient God rather than the charisma of a particular leader thru whom God might
B. THE SUFFICIENCY OF THE SOVEREIGN GOD – The Sovereign God Is Our Source for True Wisdom and Power (Daniel 2:19-23).
1. The Character of God Means Sovereignty.
a. He is the God of the Heavens–in contrast to the religious superstitions of the Babylonians.
b. He is worthy of all worship — Let the name of God be blessed forever and ever
c. True wisdom and power are his domain
2. The Actions of God Demonstrate His Sovereignty
a. He Controls Time and Space (all the dimensions known to man)
“changes the times and the epochs” — the message of Daniel is God’s unfolding of these times and epochs before they ever happen–an overview of world history and of the special role of Israel in God’s program.
b. Source of all Authority, “removes kings and establishes kings” (Romans 13:1)
c. Source of Wisdom and Knowledge
d. Gracious to give us wisdom and power when we need it to accomplish His will (1 Corinthians 1:26-31).