If you’re asked to engage with the government, would your first thoughts be “noooo…I don’t want to get involved” or “that’s too hard”?
The story was told of a man who was talent-spotted and asked to serve in the government because he was quick-witted and competent. So outstanding was this man that he was often called on to solve problems that no one else could offer solutions to.
If you haven’t already guessed, this man was none other than Daniel in the Bible.
Drawing on his example as an inspiration for how a young person can engage with authorities effectively, Reverend Eugene Seow, CEO of TOUCH International, said at the Micah Conversation that if our desire is to see change in the society, collaborating with the government is key.
Referencing Landa Cope’s book The Old Testament Template, Rev Seow highlights a key principle of the government – that the government is ordained by God and is essential to the life of a nation.
“If you don’t know how to engage the government and the authorities, then we’re missing something essential to the ways of life,” he said.
Rev Seow observed that the government, social service organisations and churches in Singapore have a unique relationship of working together for the common good, a model that can be shared with other nations.
This blessing is part of Singapore’s destiny and calling, he believes.
Exhorting the crowd to rise up to be Daniels for our nation, Rev Seow referred to 1 Timothy 2:1-4, a passage that has often been used to emphasise the fact that God desires for all to be saved. But its context was actually about the need to pray for our government.
“I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people – for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.”
Even though Daniel was brought out from his country to serve in a foreign land, he didn’t run away from the authority that was placed above him. Instead, he became a:
- Problem solver: He resolved to make a difference by seeking the welfare of the nation.
- Prophetic voice: He read the writings on the wall by seeking the destiny of the nation.
Why was Daniel successful?
DANIEL WAS CHOSEN BECAUSE HE COULD CONTRIBUTE
Often our attitude towards the government is that of entitlement, where we expect that the powers must listen to us.
But Rev Seow points out that Daniel was among those who were invited to serve in the king’s palace because he was remarkable.
“Then the king ordered Ashpenaz, chief of his court officials, to bring into the king’s service some of the Israelites from the royal family and the nobility – young men without any physical defect, handsome, showing aptitude for every kind of learning, well informed, quick to understand, and qualified to serve in the king’s palace.
“Among those who were chosen were some from Judah: Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah.” (Daniel 1:3, 6)
“You must be outstanding so that people will see you and say, ‘This guy has something to bring,’” he said.
Daniel’s keen mind, knowledge and understanding – these were traits that Rev Seow also prayed to God for when he left behind his job as an architect to help establish TOUCH Community Services as a non-profit organisation serving the needy and disadvantaged in Singapore.
Through its work, TOUCH has had the opportunity to engage with the government on issues of national concern such as marriages, families and cyber-wellness.
He said: “If I want to be qualified to serve in the king’s palace, I better have something to say.”
Rev Seow reminds us how Daniel was an exile and could have easily complained and remain indifferent. Yet he decided to make a difference.
“To these four young men God gave knowledge and understanding of all kinds of literature and learning. And Daniel could understand visions and dreams of all kinds.
At the end of the time set by the king to bring them into his service, the chief official presented them to Nebuchadnezzar. The king talked with them, and he found none equal to Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah; so they entered the king’s service.
In every matter of wisdom and understanding about which the king questioned them, he found them ten times better than all the magicians and enchanters in his whole kingdom.” (Daniel 1:17-20)
Regardless of his circumstance, Daniel decided that this was where God had placed him, so he sought the welfare of the nation. Daniel and his friends produced results (Daniel 1:14-15) on top of being willing to be tested (Daniel 1:12-13, 1:20-21).
DANIEL SOUGHT THE DESTINY OF HIS NATION
Daniel was not only able to interpret the dreams of the king, but he was able to prophetically tell the king what his dream was (Daniel 5:12).
We probably don’t know what our government is dreaming about, but we can be like Daniel to pray and ask God about what these dreams may be, said Rev Seow. So that when we’re called on to ask what’s needed, we’re able to offer insight.
“Surely the Sovereign Lord does nothing without revealing his plan to his servants the prophets.” (Amos 3:7)
He said: “The prophetic voice that God has given us is the most untapped and most powerful resource the Church has today that can help us engage with authorities.”
Rev Seow then concluded by reminding the audience to do what is pleasing to God, drawing our attention to how the life of Daniel ranged from finding favour in the king’s court to being thrown into the lion’s den (Daniel 6:10-23): He knew when it was right to take a stand.
When we’re faced with something that doesn’t seem right, Rev Seow urged us to first ask ourselves this question: “Is my God pleased with what is being done?”
“If I understand that there’s injustice going on, I would do what Daniel did – provide a solution,” he said.
THINK + TALK
- What are some areas in our lives we can reflect greater excellence in?
- Have you asked God what is His dreams are for Singapore?
- How can we engage with our government today?