Today I was told that 2 other collegues complained about my communication skills to my supervisor. I was told that I do not listen to problems well and therefore misunderstand problems and that I skip too quickly to the hows of things and jump over the whys, which is important. My supervisor is extremely tactful and gave the criticism a soft landing. I am a little disheartened, but at the same time, I recognize that it is a learning opportunity. Although the complains have come from certain fault-finders, there is some element of truth behind it. I will learn and grow.
This prompted me to think: it is not difficult for anyone to find fault in anyone else. Such is life. This is true at home, in our vocations and in churches. In our workplaces, we know our bosses faults inside and out. There is a quote from William Collins that says “Always mistrust a subordinate who never finds fault with his superior.” In the church, leaders often have their faults publicised through the great vine. We might have learnt to accept it or work around it, but we all acknowledge it. Absolutely no one is without fault.
“The fault-finder will find faults even in paradise. ”
Henry David Thoreau
Just a few days ago, I was reading the book of Daniel on the plane. I was impressed by the account of his life. We know of him as a person of noble descent. He was amongst the men who were taken to serve in Nebuchadnezzar’s palace who were exceptionally talented (Daniel 1:4) But not only was he royal and talented, he was also righteous. Even as an exile in a foreign land, he was determined to live right and eat right (Daniel 1:8). Ezekiel, who lived in the time of Daniel and was his contemporary spoke of him as “righteous” and “wise” (Ezekiel 14:14,20; 28:3).
Now Daniel so distinguished himself among the administrators and the satraps by his exceptional qualities that the king planned to set him over the whole kingdom. At this, the administrators and the satraps tried to find grounds for charges against Daniel in his conduct of government affairs, but they were unable to do so. They could find no corruption in him, because he was trustworthy and neither corrupt nor negligent.
What struck me most about Daniel is that under scrutiny, he was found faultless. This isn’t the same as being blameless/sinless morally, the context here is “in his conduct of government affairs”. In 21st century language, Daniel was a manager who never accidentally brought an office pen home, never used the office printer for personal stuff, never checked his personal email and never made a personal call at work. He always replied emails and calls, met all the deadlines, put in 100% quality work and related to his subordinates, supervisors and collegues with dignity, politeness and respect. In the annual 360 degree performance appraisal, he came out right on top. He didn’t sweep his mistakes/corruption under the carpet either, if not, it would have been discovered by his opponents. What a testimony!
When we listen to Daniel’s prayer for Israel, we get a glimpse of his heart:
Lord, listen! Lord, forgive! Lord, hear and act! For your sake, my God, do not delay, because your city and your people bear your Name.”
I believe that Daniel fully understood what it meant to bear the name of God. He refused to attribute any glory to himself but instead gave it all to God (Daniel 2:27-28, 6:22). He affirmed the rule of God over the kingdom he served (Daniel 4:24, 5:18). I believe that he understood that Israel’s role was to bear God’s holy name (Isaiah 43:10, 44:8). When God punishes Israel, it is for His name’s sake and when He saves them, it is also for His name’s sake (Ezekiel 20:14, 36:20-23). He took upon himself the responsibility to carry and glorify God’s name. Daniel examplified that godliness can exist in the most ungodly environments.
In fact, from the beginning of creation, we were created to bring glory to the name of God (Isaiah 43:7). In case we fool ourselves to think that this is an Old Testament example and it is not relevant in the New Testament, have a look at Matthew 5:16, 1 Corinthians 10:31 and 2 Corinthians 5:20. As Christians, we are the physical representation of God to the people around us. We are the only gospel that many will ever read.
Finally these men said, “We will never find any basis for charges against this man Daniel unless it has something to do with the law of his God.”
As faultless as Daniel was, he had one weakness – God. Imagine that the only thing they could use to trip him was his obedience to God. Daniel was a man who was totally defined by God.
This is my prayer, that my only weakness is Christ.