"Then Daniel became distinguished above all the other high officials and satraps, because an excellent spirit was in him. And the King planned to set over the whole kingdom." Daniel 6:3
Reading in the One Year Bible today, I am mindful that most of you spend the majority of your waking hours in your vocation. You are at the office, making decisions, solving problems, overcoming obstacles, hustling to meet deadlines, managing unrealistic expectations of bosses and clients, and navigating diverse interpersonal dynamics from potentially dozens of different angles. I wonder if you are aware that an “excellent spirit” is in you. I wonder if you are going about your labors today in a way that distinguishes you from other employees and co-workers.
Career focus, task orientation and long working hours can sometimes get a bad wrap in church circles. But Christian, it is not unspiritual to be dialed in to your work, devoted to your work, diligent about your work and depended upon at your work. In fact, it’s unspiritual to be less than that. It is a deception to believe that spiritual engagement would dampen or diminish vocational engagement. True spiritual engagement ought to enhance vocational engagement. You represent Christ who makes all things new and does all things well.
So whether it’s humbly serving an irate customer or gently responding to a demanding client; whether it’s taking responsibility for an administrative oversight or fixing a costly error; whether it’s treating a patient with special care and Christ-like dignity or communicating clearly and honestly to your staff, to both encourage them and correct them; whether it’s paying close attention to easily overlooked details or getting a better grasp on the big picture to help you better play your small role; ask for the “excellent spirit” that filled Daniel in Ancient Babylon to fill you in the place God has assigned you.
However menial the task may seem to you; however familiar it may be; however insiginficant you think it is; give yourself to your work with the zeal and excellence befitting a servant who is filled with the Spirit of the King of Glory. By his grace and power, You may be distinguished from everyone around you to the praise of Almighty God.
What followed for Daniel was the opposition and antogonism of his peers. Ordinary men and women are content with mediocrity and critical of excellence. What followed for Daniel may well follow for you. You standing out among the higher ups may incur the hostility of your peers and a concerted effort to tear you down. They are likely to be your critic and not your champion.
Pay them no mind. We have not been created for mediocrity, or called to mediocrity, nor have we been commissioned for mediocrity. We represent Christ. It would be to shame of the gospel for God’s people to be characteristically outworked and outperformed by those who are hostile to God. So do your work as unto him. If you are to be criticized, let be as Daniel was criticized: “we shall not find any ground for complaint against this Daniel unless we find it in connection with the law of his God.” (v. 5)
Our modern Babylon needs more Daniel’s; more people in whom Jesus' presence is visible through their job performance; more people who are promoted in the workplace because of God's power at work in them; more people for whom you can draw a straight line from devotion to their craft to their devotion to Christ.
There is nothing half-hearted about your Savior or mediocre about the finished work of Jesus. He came in total submission to the will of the Father, and to totally fulfill the promises of the Father. He did not love us decently or serve us partially. He loved us devoutly and served us completely. He did not settle for making us better but he came to make us new. The power of the Spirit did not raise Christ from the dead in order to leave him on life support in a Galilean hospital. We have the same Spirit who raised Jesus in power, and while we have certainly been raised to new life for more than productivity, we have not been raised to new life to be less than productive.
So whether you're selling widgets, cleaning toilets, typing up TPS reports, crunching numbers, reconciling the books, creating or repairing something with your hands, caring for the sick, preparing for a presentation, organizing an event, processing orders, managing a department, editing lines of code, in your work, this day, don’t let the world point to you as being slightly dissimilar from itself. Whether your conscious of anyone watching you, be radically dissimilar. With the Spirit of excellence in you, make it your aim to be excellent in your character, in your communication, in your effort and in the quality of your work.