Below is a sample from our Daniel Curriculum coming soon.
Introduction to the Daniel Curriculum
When you think about the great leaders of the Old Testament, Daniel is not the first man to come to mind. Probably, you thought of David, Moses, or Joshua. These men led kingdoms, people groups, and armies. They displayed leadership to the Israelite people during crucial times in their history.
Daniel did not serve the Israelite people as these other leaders might have, but in his life and leadership we see a more accurate picture of the Christian leader today. Daniel exemplifies the kind of leadership that we want to see in today’s society. Despite being surrounded by a culture of wickedness, Godlessness, and excess, Daniel stood fast in his convictions, served where he was, and glorified God in all he did.
Daniel and his friends were one of the first exiles from Judah. Although the kingdom fell in 586 BC, Nebuchednezzer had sent several groups of exiles from Jerusalem before that time. Daniel and his friends, being noblemen from birth, were deported to Babylon and taught the finer points of Chaldean culture, language and politics. It was expected that the cultural influence on these young men would convince them that the Babylonian empire was an entity to embrace, rather than a system to revolt against and eschew.
That Daniel would be tempted to give into this political and cultural system is not surprising. Many of the exiles did, as exemplified by the opening chapters of the book of Daniel. What is amazing, and truly unique, is how Daniel thrived at his job and in the Babylonian culture despite sticking to his religious and cultural beliefs.
How did Daniel do this while at the same time climbing through the ranks of both the Babylonian and Medo-Persian Empire? What did Daniel practice that brought him such influence in the Babylonian court? Without a doubt God’s gift of interpretation and prophecy helped, but as kings and kingdoms came and went, Daniel’s influence stayed, carrying him through many years of political intrigue, the tirades of meglomaniacle kings, and the pressures to give into a completely different and ungodly culture. Daniel’s crowning glory must have been the sure and godly witness that he gave of his faithful Lord and God through whatever situation he found himself in while at court.
As our students are walking through a culture that wants nothing more than to consume them, the leadership lessons of Daniel are particularly relevant to today’s teens. Daniel was able, through the power of God, to withstand the cultural onslaught that was Babylon, while at the same time keeping his work ethic, his integrity, and most of all, his focus on what was important.
In the next few pages, we’re going to take a look a good look at Daniel and his leadership principles. My prayer for you and for your leadership team is that God teaches you to stand fast in the timeless principles of our God against the sin and selfishness that has consumed our culture. May He teach you the leadership principles of Daniel, and more importantly, to live by the leadership principles of Daniel, which are in the end, the leadership principles of God.
Week 1: Daniel 1:1-7
Strangers in a Strange Land
It would be hard to imagine going through what Daniel did as an exile from his homeland of Judah. Israel became, through a series of political and military engagement, the product of Babylonian Vassalage. King Nebuchadnezzer, like many kings of his day, took the best and the brightest of whatever culture he conquered and took them off to the capital of the Chaldean empire, Babylon (modern day Iraq).
This served many purposes. First, if anything in Jerusalem went bad, the king had several hostages to bargain with. Secondly, as the captives were assimilated into Chaldean culture, it was hoped that the “captives” testimony would convince their people to accept the Babylonian yoke. Thirdly, these captives gave the King access to the best and brightest of every nation he conquered, allowing him a wealth of resources, cultures, knowledge, and experience that he could leverage to run his kingdom. Babylon was a culture at the top of its game when Daniel came there. The kings of Babylon had enjoyed many years as the dominating power in this region, before the Persians put an end to their rule.
Maybe some of your students have had to change schools. Maybe they’ve gone from a small rural school to a large, urban school, or vice versa. Maybe they’ve been to school in another country. If so, they may be able to talk about the culture shock that would have accompanied Daniel when he and his people arrived in Babylon. The temptation to accept their fate and resign to the Babylonian lifestyle must have been great, for only Daniel and his three friends managed to stick up for themselves and their beliefs.
Your students know what it is to be a stranger in a strange land. So do you. As Christians, we live in this world, but are decidedly different from it. Many times this makes us stick out like a sore thumb. That’s the point. We are supposed to be different. The temptation in our student’s lives is to go with the flow, to assimilate and be like everyone else.
A true leader is always different. No matter what the situation, we respond differently, act differently, and handle situations differently than other people. Add to that our holiness as Christians, and you’ve got some people that are really different. Our goal in this lesson is to identify and celebrate that difference and embrace it as necessary to the Christian walk and our position as leaders. This lesson also wishes to explore the fact that in reality, we live amongst a culture that we find alien and different. This is not only good but necessary to carrying out God’s mission in the world.
Lesson 1 Goal: Students will be able to identify the ways that they are different from the world and identify how those differences affect their life and leadership.
Axiom: A Leader lives in an environment that is not always friendly to his faith and beliefs
Meditative Verse: Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul.
(1 Peter 2:11 ESV)