Survival Principles #5

Hanging in There Until Your Big Break Comes


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!

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Hanging 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. He owns all of both. I’ve observed that God’s “un-American” ways rub particularly hard on those in media, especially when vocational work is unfulfilling or nonexistent.

Daniel apparently found a way to handle both being vocationally unfulfilled and unemployed. I want to share some insights on Daniel’s incredible ability to cope over the “long haul.”

When the frightful finger of God wrote on the wall of Belshazzar’s feast, Daniel was unemployed. His influence in the Kingdom had lapsed with the death of Nebuchadnezzar in 562 B.C. This event is 23 years later. When the queen mother punctuated the terror that had gripped the banquet hall with her recommendation, she referred to Daniel’s influence clearly in the past tense, “In the time of your father he was found to have insight and intelligence and wisdom like that of the gods.” There is no reference to Daniel as a “player” for nearly a quarter of a century.

Many media pros can relate. In an industry filled with wannabes, has-beens, and never-was-gonna-bes there is a more or less constant terror over work. Nagging questions are, “Will I ever work again?” “Am I past my prime?” “Will my break never come?” “Why am I not able to use my God-given talents?” “Is this unchallenging work I must do a sign that I have failed God or that He has abandoned me?”

Daniel seems to have had all these dynamics licked. While we have no direct information, it seems that he must have come to terms with being out of the limelight for so long. He doesn’t even make a sarcastic introductory comment like, “Well, now that you’re desperate, I get the call. Where have you been for the last two decades?”

Survival Principle: Don’t confuse being unfulfilled or out of work with being out of commission. God hasn’t forgotten you or abandoned His plans for you.

Daniel was past eighty when the call came from the banquet hall. He had served as vizier or prime minister to the greatest monarch in the world. How soon people forget. He wasn’t even invited to this ball held by Nebuchadnezzar’s arrogant son! But Daniel wasn’t “out of commission.” He was obviously still in fellowship with his God, and still had his skills honed for service. He remained “on call.”

I know one top media executive who got “dumped” in a corporate shakeup and who turned his unemployment into a blessing by spending quality time with the Lord and his family—things he’d desired for years—rather than sponsoring a “pity party” for himself.

Survival principle: Maintain the kind of character and reputation that will recommend you when the “big job” comes along.

How wonderful that Daniel wasn’t passed over to speak for Jehovah to the king because he’d turned bitter toward God for the years of royal disfavor! How terrific that Daniel hadn’t disqualified himself for this incredible spiritual task by compromising his spiritual character through immorality, addiction, or vocational work that tarnished his testimony!

I’ve heard it said, “We’d like to use [fill in the name], but he’s become so angry and bitter in the years since his last picture that nobody can work with him.” Don’t let the “attitude of ingratitude” disqualify you for the big break.

Postscript. According to the Greek historian Herodotus, the very night of the handwriting on the wall the Medo-Persians captured Babylon. Belshazzar was murdered, and Daniel got a fabulous position in the new realm under Darius the Mede, the new king . . . because of his character.


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This post has 2 Comments

  1. Linda T on Saturday, November 22, 2014 at 7:59 am

    I so appreciate reading this. I hadn’t seen the time line of ‘nothing is happening’ before. at least publically, for 20+ years. I’ve been praying for some people for 20+ years and ‘nothing is happening’ from my perspective. so good to see the Lord’s hand is at work and His timing still perfect. love it! I read this often, comment almost never. Thank you!!

  2. Carol Totten on Saturday, November 22, 2014 at 8:28 am

    My husband is a pastor and I have heard him ask the same questions. Your article was very encouraging to us.

    My husband laughed at your first statement: One of the frustrating things about relating to God is that He is not an American!

    Thank you, Onward and upward, Rhett and Carol Totten

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