What Daniel Teaches Us About Character

man looking out over mountain contemplating life
Then the king placed Daniel in a high position and lavished many gifts on him. He made him ruler over the entire province of Babylon and placed him in charge of all its wise men. – Daniel 2:48

Does your private life as a leader impact your public life? No question about it. Daniel illustrates why character plays such a vital role.

Daniel could have tried merely to survive his experience as a captive in a foreign land. Instead, he never left his disciplined life of character and personal commitment. Ponder the character he displayed during his times of testing under the kings of Babylon:

1. His Diet: He wouldn’t compromise on ritually unclean foods, but ate only vegetables.
2. His Motives: He didn’t take credit for interpreting dreams, but glorified God instead.
3. His Honesty: He spoke the truth to authorities, regardless of its unpopularity.
4. His Disciplines: He continued praying daily, even though it might cost him his life.
5. His Integrity: He had no interest in bribes or payoffs.
6. His Convictions: He stayed committed to his friends and beliefs even as he rose through the ranks.

How a leader deals with the circumstances of life tells you many things about their character. Crisis doesn’t necessarily make character, but it certainly does reveal it. Adversity makes a person choose one of two paths: character or compromise. Every time a leader chooses character, they grow stronger.

Character is the foundation on which a leader builds their life. It all begins with character, because leadership operates on the basis of trust. People will follow a leader only so far as they trust them. Character communicates credibility, harnesses respect, creates consistency and earns trust.

What Characterizes Character

1. Character is more than talk.

Anyone can say that they have integrity, but action is the real indicator of character. Your character determines who you are and what you do. That’s why you can never separate a leader’s character from their actions. If a leader’s actions and intentions continually work against each other, look to their character to find out why.

2. Talent is a gift, but character is a choice.

We have no control over a lot of things in life. We don’t get to choose our parents or the circumstances of our birth and upbringing. But we do choose our character. We create it each time we make choices.

3. Character brings lasting success with people.

True leadership always involves others. Followers do not trust leaders whose character they know to be flawed, and they will not continue to follow them.

4. Leaders cannot rise above the limitations of their character.

Character will either limit or support a leader, depending on its strength. It will always determine whether a leader finishes well.

A true leader is not defined by their position but by their character. We all have spheres of influence. In what area of life might you improve your character following Daniel’s life as role model?

Article drawn from the NIV Maxwell Leadership Bible


NIV Maxwell Leadership Bible

Every believer is a person of influence. In the NIV Maxwell Leadership Bible, leadership expert John C. Maxwell shows you the principles of leadership taught in God’s Word and how to use them. Learn More

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