Unshakeable: When you are pressured to conform
Have you ever felt pressured to make choices that don’t align with your values? As the world’s values continue to drift, you need to be equipped with the resources to handle whatever life throws at you. In the Unshakable series based on the life of Daniel, you’ll discover how to handle life’s most difficult situations. The principles that guided Daniel through precarious life choices will help you learn how to respond when you feel pressured to make wrong choices, want to thrive in a hostile environment, succeed when you’re asked to do the impossible, stand strong for God publicly, and pray the kind of prayers that God answers. This week is Unshakeable: when your pressured to conform.
Bottom line: It takes character to stand up under pressure.
Something To Talk About:
Conformity is an ever-present danger. Christians can conform to this world in two ways; we can actively pursue the world and worldliness, or we can simply be passive and allow the world a slow but steady eroding influence. The first way to be conformed to the world, then, is to be drawn to it, to be enamored by it and to imitate it. Daniel made sure that neither of those two things happened by being a nonconformist who practiced:
- Integrity – he never forgot who he was: Daniel had kept his faith in God, a mark of true integrity. When faced with the choice to compromise his moral and ethical standards, Daniel as a captive in Babylon made the most critical choice of his life. He chose to be a man of integrity. He chose that course even though he didn’t know that doing wrong will be punished or doing right would be rewarded. What we see in Daniel’s experience is that, in the final analysis, our integrity will be revealed in the public world as a testimony to our faith and our God. We learn that our integrity must be rooted in our private life. We learn that integrity is reflected in our personal lives. The best place to engage and transform our culture is not the place where we spend Sunday morning, but the place where we spend Monday through Friday of each week.
- Discipline – he controlled his ego and appetite: Daniel had a choice. Eat the king’s food, or control his ego and his appetite. Daniel chose the latter, although I am not sure many teenagers would make that choice. You are 15 years old in a foreign country without supervision. You are your own person. The most powerful man in that country offers you all kinds of perks and says, “You’re going to be on my personal staff. I’m going to give you power, prestige, and pleasure. You’ll get the best of everything.” That would be tempting for most 15-year-olds but not Daniel. Daniel was incredibly disciplined and would not forfeit God’s plan for his life. So he tells the most powerful man in the world, “Nebuchadnezzar, I’m going to serve you because God put me here, but I’m not going to be indebted to you or conformed by you.” That is discipline well beyond his years.
- Courage – he was willing to stand alone: As a follower of Jesus there may come a time when you will be challenged to stand alone—to be in a situation that forces you to decide if you will obey God or “follow the crowd.” The life of Daniel provides an outstanding example of one who was willing to stand alone. When faced with the choice to either forsake his allegiance to the Lord or find himself in dire circumstances (e.g. the lion’s den) he chose God and facing the lions. Daniel was willing to forfeit his life rather than abandon his convictions. Standing alone requires courage. Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather a decision based on confidence in something or someone greater than the fear. Daniel had that type of courage born out of his confidence in God.
- Humility – he was tactful with authority: God uses humble people: When Daniel told King Nebuchadnezzar he wouldn’t eat Babylonian food, the young Hebrew could have been smart-alecky, flippant and snippy. Instead, Daniel chose to act with respect. “… He asked the chief of staff for permission not to eat these unacceptable foods.” (Daniel 1:8) When he couldn’t do what the king asked him to do, he simply said it was against his values and was morally wrong for him to do so. He displayed great tact and humility with authority. Daniel provides the model for what to do when we are are asked by a person in authority to do something unethical or immoral. You’ll need to know how to make a respectful appeal just the way Daniel did.
- Why is it so easy to conform to whatever is required of us rather than internal principle.
- If you asked a coworker to describe your work style or reputation, what do you believe they would share with you? What about those in authority over you?
- Describe a time when someone was pushy or belligerent in their demands to you. How did that make you feel? Now, talk about a time when someone had a humble attitude. Which one were you more interested in fulfilling and why?
- When making a case to an authority, do you think it is important to choose the right place, time, and words. Why or why not?
- Describe a time when you had to overcome a big obstacle in your life. What did this experience teach you about adversity?
- Where in your life do you struggle most with discipline? Why? What are some ways you can grow in your discipline?
- What’s your first response when you’ve been unfairly treated? How has this changed over the years?
- When you look at your life, what are the things worth fighting for? What deserves your heart, time, and money?
- How can we ensure we have integrity in the responsibilities God has given to us?
- Why is it difficult to respond respectfully to unfairness? What’s the best example you’ve ever seen of someone responding to an unfair situation with respect and humility?
Take one thing home with you:
Here are some things to remember when you are making a case to an authority:
- Develop a reputation for being responsible.
- Be humble, not belligerent.
- Don’t be deceptive or manipulate.
- Appeal to their goals and interests.
- Choose the right place, time, and words.
- Trust God if they reject your appeal.