If you’re in youth ministry, creating “Daniels” is the goal.  It’s the prize.  It’s the ultimate win.

Why do I say this?  Oh, for so many, many, reasons; but let me share a little background first.

I happened to be reading and studying Daniel in the two weeks leading up to our Bridge Youth Ministry parent meeting, which we hold annually.  As I was spending some time preparing and meditating on some things to share with the parents, a whole new appreciation began to dawn on me, and a realization that creating “Daniels” is the ultimate goal in youth ministry.

Daniel's Answer to the King

We obviously know Daniel most famously from the story depicted in the painting above: Daniel in the lions’ den.  But the book of Daniel shares much more than that.

Taken from his home at a young age when Babylon conquered Israel, Daniel was a member of a royal family in Israel.  We see in chapter 1 that Daniel and a few others were selected to serve in the king’s court, and be schooled “in the language and literature of Babylon.”

You don’t get more “full-immersion” than this.  This was to be an all-out indoctrination.  Reaping the best and brightest from another country, then immersing them in and teaching them about your culture with the idea that they’ll serve your royal court for the rest of their lives.

And yet the opposite happened.  Not only did they not become “Babylonians” as the king hoped, but they eventually changed the culture of that country – including the kings!

I see this whole story as very similar to the situation that our young people are in today.  The Bible calls us “aliens and strangers in this world” in 1 Peter 2:11.  We are asking Christian students to live in a world completely at odds with what we think and believe.  We are hoping and praying that they don’t become “indoctrinated” with this worldly culture.

But the goal isn’t just that they would just avoid becoming like the culture.  The goal is also to see them change the culture around them, to change minds and hearts by their lives and their walk with Christ.

Much like Daniel, our young people face huge odds of overcoming the culture all around them.  But it can be done!  The book of Daniel proves this!  His situation was even more dire than theirs, as he faced death for sticking to what he believed.

So what did Daniel already have ingrained in him by the time he was removed to Babylon?  What were the distinguishing characteristics that helped him overcome the full immersion he faced in Babylon?

Next week I’m going to go through these several things he had already learned by the time he got to Babylon that helped his story turn out so well.

Question: What’s your favorite story in the book of Daniel?