Power Trippin’: 3 young men and a kingly battle

Power and Compulsion

I’ve been thinking about Daniel 3:7-19 recently. Nebuchadnezzar had ordered the construction of a 90 foot gold statue. And whenever the instruments sounded, everyone was supposed to turn to the statue and bow down. 

This is an odd story because of its location in the book of Daniel. The story prior to this is Daniel revealing Nebuchadnezzar’s dream and then interpreting that dream. The king tells everyone to bow down and worship Daniel’s God because He is Lord over all gods. 

And then Nebby builds a statue and tells everyone to worship it. But what about that God you told everyone to worship? I just don’t get it. Oh well.

So the 3 amigos – Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego – don’t bow to the statue. How dare they! So Nebby calls them forward and orders them to bow to the statue.

The king is on a power trip. His ego is bruised. They will comply or die, and he holds the power to make this happen. 

I don’t know if this was done to save face, because he was told about the three amigos by other government officials, and if they were able to get away with it, who else might try to disregard the king’s orders? And if word got out about officials not following the king’s orders, what happens to the king’s subjects living in the next region? Could this lead to a revolt? Other kings would see him as weak. 

So he can’t back down. He has to force compliance. His kingdom depends on it.

We all pull these power trips from time to time. How many times have you said to your kids, “Because I said so!” We see it in business where bosses tell their subordinates to do it or look for a new job. The police do it. The military does it. 

Even pastors do it. They set themselves up as rulers of their own little kingdom. How dare people question them! Their kingdom depends on it. (Recent scandals prove this)

When this kind of leadership happens, creatives and leaders typically leave. Good leaders know bad leadership and don’t want to be around it. Creative people need freedom, and rulers on a power trip create issues for creatives. 

Ego and power are destructive. To the organization. To people’s lives. 

Unfortunately, sometimes people get away with it. 

For a time. 

For a moment. 

The Irishman Edmond Burke said, “When bad men combine, the good must associate; else they will fall, one by one, an unpitied sacrifice in a contemptible struggle.” This seems to have been paraphrased into the famous quote: “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” 

That’s why the 3 amigos are so important. They were brought before the king, and when told to comply or die, they told the king, “Who are you compared to God?” Ok, that’s my interpretation of what they said. But they stood up to the king. They did something and stood up for what was right.

Instead of falling into the trap of pleasing everyone, or caring about what others think, or capitulating and giving in, or being afraid to lose their job, they told Nebuchadnezzar that they trusted their God so much that it didn’t matter if he had them killed. They understood that God’s kingdom superseded a kingdom ruled by an egomaniac, power-tripping ruler. 

God is our deliverer. Even in death.

Those who think they have power don’t really, regardless of the outcome. 

False allegations will be revealed. Light will shine and truth will come forward. If not immediately, then eventually.

God’s kingdom doesn’t depend on compulsion from a power trip. God’s kingdom is expressed through grace and love and justice and care for the broken.

Stand against those who are trippin’. Stand up for those who are being tripped over. 

Because who is anyone, really, compared to God?

David has been a systems thinker most of his life. He has started three businesses as well as designed and developed systems and processes in existing organizations. He has a Doctorate in Leadership and has also done additional post-graduate work in communications.

He has also pastored 3 churches and loves to think about, write about and podcast about scripture, theology, and leadership.

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