Last week I posted about how Daniel is a near-perfect model for what we want to produce in youth ministry.  We want to help produce students who won’t be swayed by the culture, though immersed in it.  We want students who will change the culture, be influencers, and affect the people around them.

That’s exactly what Daniel did.  Despite being fully immersed in the culture of Babylon, his faith acted out in front of multiple kings changed their hearts toward God.

So how did Daniel do this?  What was unique about him?  I think the better question is: What did Daniel already have inside of him that allowed him to flourish against incredible odds?

Those things Daniel had ingrained in him are the things our students need, too.  Looking at the story of Daniel, here’s what I can see that he had within him before being taken away to Babylon:

1) Fear of God – Daniel respected man (Dan. 6:21), but feared God.  He considered God first in all his choices and didn’t fear what man could do to him.  Daniel first cared about what God thought of him.

2) Love of God – Daniel had a desire to please God because he loved him, another reason he thought of God first.  When Daniel prays in Chapter 9, his desire to make things right with God is evident in the humility and love of his words.

3) Self-Discipline and Godly Habits – One of the things that defined Daniel – and caused him to be thrown into the lions’ den – was his daily prayers.  Without fail, he would go out on his porch or balcony, face Jerusalem, and prayed three times a day (Dan. 6:10).  While praying three times a day isn’t necessarily the model we need to shoot for, getting students to spend daily time focusing their thoughts and energies on God would pay boundless dividends in walking out their faith.

4) Ability to Hear God’s Voice – Daniel listened when God spoke to him through visions or gave him interpretations to dreams.  This ability to hear God’s voice actually saved his life! (Dan. 2:12-13)  Where special insight or understanding is needed, Daniel has it, and our students need the ability to hear God’s voice in those situations that aren’t clear-cut choices.

5) Discernment to Make Right Decisions – Where there were clear-cut choices, Daniel had the discernment to make the right decisions.  He knew how to handle himself when he was told he couldn’t pray or had to eat unclean food.  On those decisions he didn’t need to hear God’s voice, he had the ability to make the right choice.  Our students need this as well.  Where there is a choice between good and evil, or between something that will harm them or something that will help them, they need the understanding and ability to make the right decisions.

All of these things added up to a total package for Daniel to make him one incredible individual, one who changed the hearts of kings and gained favor among them.  If we can work towards creating little “Daniels” that have the same package of things held within their hearts, we’d have students that would change the culture instead of being changed by it.

Question: What else do you admire about Daniel?