Do you ever feel like quitting your job because your work conflicts with your faith?
Maybe a coworker is hostile toward your beliefs, your hours keep you from services you would like to attend, or your responsibilities entail bending your convictions. Whatever the situation, you face spiritual resistance and are growing weary—and are wondering whether to remain where you are or look for a job that is friendly to your faith.
Daniel found himself in the same situation several thousand years ago. He was a faithful Jew who purposed to obey all of God’s commandments. But he lived in a pagan nation, where he studied and worked in the king’s palace. His faith was challenged repeatedly and he often had to choose between his God and his job—even his life. His experiences exemplify several principles that can help us know how to work in an environment that challenges our faith.
Resist the sin, not the situation.
Daniel’s first recorded conflict happened when Daniel and his friends were new to the palace. They were commanded to eat the king’s meat, which violated the diet of the Judaic law. Daniel went to Melzar (a.k.a. his supervisor) and requested to be excused from this diet. Melzar hesitated, fearing his own punishment for not enforcing the rules, so Daniel offered an alternative, a 10-day test of water and vegetables—and God worked out the rest.
Daniel did not resist his circumstances or try to escape testing. He did not run from the palace when he had to choose between obeying God and obeying His boss. He simply resisted breaking God’s law and asked to be excused from the new rule.
Many Christians resist testing. We resist situations that may challenge our faith and our commitment. We rarely have the chance to resist sin like Daniel did, because we hide ourselves away in temptation-free zones.
That is not what God has called us to do.
The Christian life is not supposed to be lived in a safe bubble, away from challenges or unbelievers. We are commanded to go into the world, to be a light among men. We should expect persecution, temptation, and trials, not avoid them. Christianity is not comfortable. If it is, then maybe you need to evaluate your walk with God.
God allows testing. He placed Daniel in the king’s palace and was not surprised when Daniel was tested. He allowed those challenges so that Daniel could be refined and so that God could demonstrate His power to that nation.
God may be allowing you to be tempted so that He may demonstrate His power through you. If you run away, those unbelieving coworkers may never be able to witness the power of God. You may be the only Christian they will ever encounter. Allow God to use your situation and allow Him to work on you.
Resign your fate, not your position.
When Daniel was tempted—when he was supposed to eat the king’s meat and sin—he did not resign his position in the court. He did not ask to be dismissed from his place, his title, his job. He resigned his fate to God.
In today’s culture, most of us would resign our position. Christians are the best boy-cotters. When a company takes a stand that opposes our beliefs, we boycott that company. We refuse to go near anything that opposes ourselves. So when our employers or other authority demand us to do something that defies our faith, we don’t simply refuse, we leave. We quit. We think we should not work for anyone who asks us to compromise our faith.
But Daniel did not quit. Daniel was a prince, who was continually promoted to the highest positions of leadership in the nation. When laws were passed that opposed the Mosaic law, he kept working and kept obeying God. He didn’t quit because he knew that God had placed him in that position–God gave him favor and promoted him. If he had quit, he would have been forsaking God’s will, God’s favor, God’s best.
We Christians love to talk about taking a stand. But our definition of taking a stand often contradicts God’s definition. Quitting is not standing. It’s quitting. Obeying God at the risk of losing one’s life is taking a stand. So is obeying at the risk of losing one’s job. Don’t quit your job just because you are facing spiritual opposition. Quit your job if God is leading you to another position, but do not simply run away.
If the prince of the eunuchs had not allowed Daniel to try a different diet, Daniel still would have refused and would have faced the consequences. But he asked for an exception first. If you find yourself in a position where you have to disobey God or be fired, don’t quit immediately. Pray, then ask for an exception. God may grant you favor and work a miracle. Or He may allow you to lose your job so He can lead you to something better. But let God do the work.
Rely on prayer, not petitions.
If we were living in Daniel’s day, we would not have simply refused to eat the king’s meat—we would have drawn up a petition, publicized the violation of our rights, and fought to have the rules changed to be fair for everyone. But Daniel prayed, then went quietly, humbly, and personally to his boss.
There are times to fight and there are times to hold our peace.
Daniel did not try to change his society. He was a captive in a foreign land. He was not in a position to change the society on his own. If he had made a fuss, if he had held conferences, written letters, or used his influence to try to change the laws, he would have lost his head without changing a single thing. It was not his place to change society. It was his place to change himself and let God change his society.
We live in a country with Christianity in its roots. We also live in a country where a single voice can often change public opinion and, through a rippling affect, change laws. But there are times when speaking up and fighting for our rights hurts our situation, rather than helping it. There are times when we, like Daniel, should go peacefully and quietly to our authority and humbly ask for help. There are times when we must silently refuse instead of raising our voices in protest. There are times when we must simply pray.
Our first response to every challenge should be prayer. Before confronting a coworker who has been troubling you, pray. Before talking to your supervisor about a conflict, pray. Before making any decision, pray. Prayer is powerful. Prayer equips us with God’s resources, army, and strength.
Daniel always prayed when temptations came. He asked his friends to pray for him (Daniel 2:17-18). Daniel relied on the power of prayer—and was thrown in the lion’s den for refusing to stop praying. Prayer was a major part of his life and was the source of his wisdom and favor. God blessed Daniel because Daniel sought Him first.
When temptations come at work, rely on prayer. God may lead you to start a “revolution” in your office, but He may lead you to hold your peace. Either way, you need the power of God on your side, which can only be accessed through prayer.
Sometimes our work conflicts with our faith. But that does not mean we are not where God wants us to be. Daniel did not purpose to live in righteous circumstances. He purposed to live righteously—in any circumstance. Whatever your circumstances may be, resist the sin, resign your fate to God, and rely on prayer. God will take care of the rest.