Success in a toxic culture: 4 Life Lessons from Daniel
Success in a toxic culture: 4 Life Lessons from Daniel.
Scrolling through my social media feed, my hand paused over a headline: The Turbulent and Toxic State of the Nation’s Work Culture. This is not a topic that would excite me to dig deeper, but it brought to mind an earlier conversation I was having with my family.
An elder in the family was expressing her exhaustion in battling a very toxic work environment. Optimistic in nature, she was the one you could depend on to look at the bright side of an individual, roll her sleeves up and get things done to help others. It saddened me to see her pale face and weary eyes. Dropping her head into her hands, her shoulders slumped even deeper as she explained some of the things that were happening.
With a recent change in management, many senior employees had left the business, morale in the company was low, many persons were calling in sick, and there was a strain of fear permeating the organization. Underlying everything she was saying, I could see her own fears, concerns and defeat. Having struggled in a toxic environment, the only thing that I thought to do at the time was to cover her hand gently and invite her to pray.
The more this settled in my heart and mind is the more I sought God to help me guide others and even myself in how to find victory in toxic cultures: not just work environments, but school, home and even in many cases, the church.
4 Life lessons from Daniel
The story of Daniel came to mind.
Daniel was one of the captured Israelites sent to Babylon. New place, people and beginnings. Babylon was a country that did not believe nor worshipped God. Toxic was the daily brand for Daniel, who had to face enemies not only in the workplace, but his home, and in the local cultural environment. For many, this can paralyze us into fear, just thinking about going into a very strange place.
Daniel on the other hand provides us with some great life lessons:
- Courage: Having the courage to move forward. Daniel could have cowered at home, complained to all, planned revenge, or cried exhaustively. Instead, he realized the situation he was in and had the courage to move forward. He could only do this because he knew to whom he belonged to and who his ancestors taught him was the greatest in all the earth – God. (Daniel 2:19-23)
- Focus: Being focused and not getting distracted by the glitter and the gold. As one of the men to be trained for three years to enter the King’s service, Daniel could have been caught up in the excitement of living in the King’s court. But Daniel stood firm and focused on not being swayed by the Babylonians. He was focused on being different from all the others. Later on in Daniel when his enemies tried to swarm him, Daniel 6:4 said, “At this, the administrators and the satraps tried to find grounds for charges against Daniel in his conduct of government affairs, but they were unable to do so. They could find no corruption in him, because he was trustworthy and neither corrupt nor negligent.”
- Discipline: Daniel remained disciplined in what he ate and his daily activities. “But Daniel resolved not to defile himself with the royal food and wine,” – Daniel 1: 8
- Prayer: Prayer was at the core of Daniel’s life. He prayed three times daily. His relationship with God was vital to him. This relationship was so important that even at the threat of death, he chose death over stopping to pray to his God. See Daniel 6:6-10.
Daniel lived over 60+ successful years in the land where he was sent as a captured slave. His obedience, love and relationship with Christ resulted in God showing him great favour and success. Daniel’s courageous actions led a nation to learn about the one true living God.
Food for thought
What difference do you think we could make in a toxic environment if we were to adopt the lessons taught by Daniel? What purpose is God calling you to today? Daniel’s prayers to God answered dreams and drove him even closer in his relationship with God? Are you praying powerful prayers?
Prayer: Holy Father, like Daniel, I feel that I am living and breathing toxicity. My enemies are swarming around me, and I don’t know where to turn. I pray for courage, wisdom and understanding. May you grant me favour for the glory and honour of your kingdom. In Jesus’ name. Amen