Lion’s Den Survival Principles

by Mastermedia Founder Dr. Larry Poland


Lion’s Den Survival Principles is a series designed to help Christians thrive in the often hostile world of media and entertainment. The principles from Scripture, however, can apply to every situation where you find yourself in the midst of lions!


Lion’s Den Survival: An Introduction

Living life successfully isn’t easy . . . or difficult. It is impossible!

There is one part of this fact that God utilizes. We are such arrogant creatures, that if living successfully were, at any level, achievable through human effort, we’d pound our chests and boast of our success. (CONTINUE READING)



Survival Principle #1: Defining Non-Negotiables

I remember seeing my friend, the young seminarian, ashen-faced and visibly shaking as he faced the faculty and student body.

Each member of our seminary class was required to prepare and deliver a sermon in chapel to the entire school and then to sit through the faculty’s public evaluation of the strengths and weaknesses of that effort on the following Friday. Both were terror-filled occasions for the seminarians. (CONTINUE READING)


Survival Principles #2: Making a Living vs. Making a Life

Whether you get your big break or not, life will go on.

Your career can bomb, but character and quality relationships will enable you to live. Your career can soar, but it will not bring fulfillment if you’ve sold your soul or destroyed your relationships with God and family. (CONTINUE READING)


Survival Principles #3: Watching Out for the Tiny Compromises

“. . . Whoever does not fall down and worship will immediately be thrown into a blazing furnace.”

— Daniel 3:4-6 (NIV)

Never discount the power of peer pressure. Peer pressure is one of the most powerful forces under heaven. Peer pressure can get you to perform in ways that violate your deepest beliefs and convictions, can get you to do (or not do) things that can cost you deeply in your relationship with God. (CONTINUE READING)


Survival Principles #4: Praying BEFORE All Else Has Failed

“ . . . Daniel urged his friends to plead for mercy from the God of Heaven concerning this mystery, so that he and his friends might not be executed with the rest of the wise men of Babylon.” 

— Daniel 2:18 (NIV)

 I have an idea for a sign I think will sell well in Hollywood. It reads, “Why pray when you can panic?” (CONTINUE READING)


Survival Principles #5: Hang In There Until Your Big Break Comes

“O King, live forever . . . there is a man in your kingdom who has the spirit of the holy gods in him . . . Call for Daniel and he will tell you what the writing means.”

— Daniel 5:10-12 (NIV)

One of the frustrating things about relating to God is that He is not an American! He does not believe in “instant everything.” He isn’t committed to the “bigger is better” mentality, and time and money don’t have any value to Him. (CONTINUE READING)


Survival Principles #6: Establishing the Fact that You Can’t Be Bought

“Then Daniel answered the king, ‘You may keep your gifts for yourself and give your rewards to someone else. Nevertheless, I will read the writing for the king and tell him what it means.’”

— Daniel 5:117 (NIV)

Talk about an opportunity to cash in! Here was the chance of a lifetime. The panicked king Belshazzar, still quaking from the terror of watching a divine hand write mysterious words on the wall of his banquet hall, is willing to give away the company store. (CONTINUE READING)


Survival Principles #7: Dealing with the Power Structure 

“Daniel resolved not to defile himself with the royal food and wine, and he asked the chief official for permission not to defile himself in this way. Now God had caused the official to show favor and sympathy to Daniel, but the official told Daniel, ‘I am afraid of my Lord the King . . . .’”

— Daniel 1:8-10 (NIV)

Bosses. Everybody has as least one. Every boss has at least one character weakness. Every employee has at least one character weakness. All people have innate tendencies toward rebellion against other people’s authority and misuse of their own. Mix these ingredients, and you have the stuff of which power struggles, bitter conflict, and lawsuits are made. (CONTINUE READING)


Survival Principles #8: How to Frustrate Your Enemies

“At this, the administrators and 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. Finally, these men said, ‘We will never find any basis for charges against this man Daniel unless it has something to do with the Law of his God.’”

— Daniel 6:4-5 (NIV)

When I was a kid, I was a bellhop in a Christian resort hotel. One of the fascinating characters who came to the hotel each summer was a chess Grandmaster. Because of his reputation, chess players from miles around would come to challenge him. (CONTINUE READING)


Survival Principles #9: Obedience Over Consequence

“O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it, and he will rescue us from you hand, O King. But, even if he does not, we want you to know, O King, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.”

— Daniel 3:16-18 (NIV)

“It’s your show, and you can do what you want with it, but we do not do five minute rape scenes.” With this line, the Christian writer-producer made a moral principle clear to one of the most powerful men in Hollywood. (CONTINUE READING)


Survival Principles #10: A Spirit That Sets You Apart 

“King Nebuchadnezzar: “When the magicians, enchanters, astrologers, and diviners came, I told them the dream, but they could not interpret it for me. Finally, Daniel came into my presence, and . . . I said, I know that the spirit of the holy gods is in you, and no mystery is too difficult for you.”

— Daniel 4:7-9 (NIV)

A veteran TV director was directing a series for a producer known not to be a Christian. After working with the director for a while, the producer said to him, “You don’t swear, do you?” “No, I don’t.” Nothing more was said until sometime later when the producer observed, “You seem to be the kind of person who has had a life- changing experience. Is that the case?” “Yes, that is exactly the case.” (CONTINUE READING)


Survival Principles #11: Giving Credit Where It’s Due

“The king asked Daniel . . . ‘Are you able to tell me what I saw in my dream and interpret it?’ Daniel replied, ‘No wise man, enchanter, magician or diviner can explain to the king the mystery he has asked about, but there is a God in heaven who reveals mysteries. He has shown King Nebuchadnezzar what will happen in days to come.”

— Daniel 2:26-27 (NIV)

In an industry where verbal and legal “credit wars” are waged over whose name is listed first, whose name has bigger letters, and what title is given, it’s no mystery that God seldom gets top billing. He’s in competition with too many competing “gods.” (CONTINUE READING)


Survival Principles #12: How to Weather Adversity

“Now when Daniel learned that the decree had been published, he went home to his upstairs room where the windows opened toward Jerusalem. Three times a day he got down on his knees and prayed giving thanks to his God, just as he had done before. Then these men went as a group and found Daniel praying and asking God for help.”

— Daniel 6:10-11 (NIV)

The “sixtyish” woman was standing in the hall of the executive suite of one of the big three networks. Surrounded by boxes, she was leaning against the wall weeping. “Ruth,” I said, “What’s wrong?” “After I’ve worked my heart out for 27 years for this network they gave me three days notice.” She had been summarily “outplaced.” (CONTINUE READING)


Survival Principles #13: Surviving the Fire

“Then King Nebuchadnezzar leaped to his feet in amazement and asked his advisers, ‘Weren’t there three men that we tied up and threw into the fire?’ They replied, ‘Certainly, O king.’ He said, ‘Look! I see four men walking around in the fire, unbound and unharmed, and the fourth looks like a son of the gods.”

— Daniel 3:24-25 (NIV)

“Into every life a little rain must fall” is only part of the story. Most believers have discovered that going through fire is just as common as going through rain. Rain is merely a temporary unpleasantness that does a lot of good overall. Fire is a destructive, all-consuming threat to our very existence. (CONTINUE READING)


Survival Principles #14: How to Get Demoted

“Is this not the great Babylon I have built as the royal residence, by my mighty power and for the glory of my majesty?”
— Daniel 4:28-30 (NIV)

“In one sense,” said the earnest Christian TV director, “I have to promote myself every day. As a freelance professional, if I don’t promote myself, who will?” In so saying, he put the finger on one of the tough balancing acts Christians in media face on a daily basis . . . where does successful, professional salesmanship and promotion end and sinful, pride-driven self-exaltation begin? (CONTINUE READING)



Survival Principles #15: Identifying with the Sins of Your Community

“ . . . O, Lord, the great and awesome God . . .we have sinned and done wrong. We have been wicked and rebelled; we have turned away from your commands and laws. We have not listened to your servants the prophets, who spoke in your name to our kings, our princes, and our fathers, and to all the people of the land. All Israel has transgressed your law and turned away, refusing to obey you.”

— Daniel 9:4-6 (NIV)

The woman manager at one of the big three networks expressed her grief at the moral impurity of her employer’s programming. “Sometimes I feel dirty taking a paycheck from a company that would air such hideous stuff,” she said. She asked for prayer as to whether she should stay in her job, even though she was in the financial controls department far removed from network program decisions.  (CONTINUE READING)


Survival Principles #16: Discovering the Power of Praise Over Problems

“Then Daniel praised the God of heaven and said, ‘Praise be to the name of God for ever and ever; wisdom and power are his. He changes times and seasons; he sets up kings and deposes them. He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to the discerning. He reveals deep and hidden things; he knows what lies in darkness and light dwells with him.’”

— Daniel 2:19b-22 (NIV)

As a person who has been accused of being “terminally positive,” I’m not given to fits of rage, depression, or hopelessness. Consequently, creeping coldness in my relationship with Jesus Christ is recognizable not by the presence of the negative so much as by the absence of the positive. I simply lose my attitude of praise.(CONTINUE READING)


Survival Principles #17: Waiting Until the “Last Chapter” is Written

“Then King Darius wrote to all the peoples, nations and men of every language throughout the land: ‘ . . . I issue a decree that . . . people must fear and reverence the God of Daniel. For he is the living God, and he endures forever . . . . He has rescued Daniel from the power of the lions.’ So Daniel prospered during the reign of Darius and the reign of Cyrus the Persian.”
— Daniel 6:26-28 (NIV)

You’ve seen it happen. The home team is down three touchdowns in the last quarter of play. The stands begin to empty, so that by the time the clock shows 05:00 minutes left, there are empty seats everywhere. Then, through some miracle of resurrected motivation or unexpected events, the home team comes back! With 00:14 showing on the clock, it scores the winning touchdown, and joyful pandemonium prevails! (CONTINUE READING)



Survival Principles #18: Getting Past Ego to Reach Understanding

“Do not be afraid, Daniel. Since the first day that you set your mind to gain understanding and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard, and I have come in response to them.”
— Daniel 10:12 (NIV)

Has it ever seemed to you that the entertainment business, especially film and television, has more than its share of people with enormous egos? In your mind, run through the instantly recognizable names in power in media, and it will be difficult to name one known for humility. My father had a tongue-in-cheek observation about a “big ego” person: “I’d like to buy him for what he’s worth and sell him for what he thinks he’s worth.”  (CONTINUE READING)


Survival Principles #19: How to Acquire Good References

“ . . . If a country sins against me by being unfaithful and I stretch out my hand against it . . . even if these three men—Noah, Daniel, and Job—were in it, they could save only themselves by their righteousness, declares the Sovereign Lord.”
— Ezekiel 14:12-14 (NIV)

A Hollywood actor once said a performer goes through stages in his career that are reflected by what producers say about him. The progression is: (1) “Who’s Joe Doaks?” (2) “We can’t afford a star, why don’t we use Joe Doaks?” (3) “It would really make this picture if we could just get Joe Doaks.” (4) “What we need is a young Joe Doaks.” (5) “Who’s Joe Doaks?”  (CONTINUE READING)


Survival Principles #20: How to Pray and Be Heard

“Now, our God, hear the prayers and petitions of your servant . . . we do not make requests of you because we are righteous, but because of your great mercy.”

— Daniel 9:17-18 (NIV)

Parenting six children into adulthood is a formidable task. One of the challenges is helping each child understand how to make requests that are likely to be heard and answered. In our home, we used the concept of “magic words”—words like “please” and “thank you.” (CONTINUE READING)


Survival Principles #21: Letting God Have Your Enemies for Lunch

“And when Daniel was lifted from the den, no wound was found on him, because he had trusted in his God. At the king’s command, the men who had falsely accused Daniel were brought in and thrown into the lion’s den, along with their wives and children. And before they reached the floor of the den, the lions overpowered them and crushed all their bones.”

— Daniel 6:23b-24 (NIV)

In the Southern California culture where people communicate as much by bumper sticker as by the spoken word, “I DON’T GET MAD. I GET EVEN” is a common message. The creator of the concept, I presume, has had one miserable life, because living by vengeance rather than by forgiveness violates a key principle for successful living. (CONTINUE READING)


Survival Principles #22: Maintaining Your Vision

“ . . . The God of heaven will set up a kingdom that will never be destroyed, nor will it be left to another people. It will crush all those kingdoms and bring them to an end, but it will itself endure forever. This is the meaning of the vision of the rock cut out of a mountain, but not by human hands—a rock that broke the iron, the bronze, the clay, the silver and the gold to pieces.”
— Daniel 2:44 (NIV)

One of the first things that is lost in difficult times and hostile circumstances is our vision of ultimate victory. No matter how many times we read the promises of God’s Book, no matter how familiar the “glory songs” of the Christian faith are to us, they all tend to vanish like breath in adversity. (CONTINUE READING)


Survival Principles #23: Being Ten Times Better than the Competition

“At the end of the time set by the king to bring them in, the chief official presented them to Nebuchadnezzar. The king talked with them, and he found none equal to Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah, so they entered the king’s service. In every matter of wisdom and understanding about which the king questioned them, he found them ten times better than all the magicians and enchanters in his whole kingdom.”

— Daniel 1:18-20 (NIV)

It was a corporate climate in which “downsizing” was the dominant objective, and top executives of studios and networks were being dumped into the streets of Hollywood and New York by the hundreds. Still other execs were given “early retirement” or were having their contracts bought out in their fifties. In this environment, a Christian exec at a major TV network was given a three-year contract at age 70! How did this happen? (CONTINUE READING)


Survival Principles #24: No Story is Complete Without an Ending

“At that time . . . there will be a time of distress such as has not happened from the beginning of nations until then. But at that time your people—everyone whose name is found written in the book—will be delivered. Multitudes who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake: some to everlasting life, others to shame and everlasting contempt. Those who are wise will shine like the brightness of the heavens, and those who lead many to righteousness like the stars . . . .”
— Daniel 12:1-3 (NIV)

Jean Paul Sartre, the French existentialist, wrote a monstrously depressing play entitled No Exit as the ultimate expression of his philosophy. Since Sartre believed that human life has no Planner and no Plan, he portrayed an eternity in which depressed and hopeless people get off an elevator into an endless existence in which they live for each moment in ultimate selfishness with . . . no exit. Depressing indeed! (CONTINUE READING)


Survival Principles #25: Getting Beyond Survival

A Confession. I gave this blog series the wrong name. Really.

I used the word “survival” in the title, and this never should have been done. I do not believe for one nanosecond that God ever intended for us—the members of His royal family—merely to survive. (CONTINUE READING)