Being an aide or intern to a senator or representative in Congress is a lot like what it must have been for Daniel, the Old Testament prophet who at a young age found himself among a small group of conquered Judeans being groomed for the court of King Nebuchadnezzar.
Part of the group’s three-year study and preparation for service to the King involved adherence to a royally prescribed nutritional course that conflicted in key respects with the dietary regimen of the Jewish faith of Daniel and three of his friends, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah.
“Daniel determined that he would not defile himself with the King’s food or with the wine he drank,” Daniel 1:8 tell us. “So he asked permission from the chief official not to defile himself.”
The chief official feared the King would kill him if at the end of the three years the four Judeans looked thinner and less healthy than the others as a result of not eating the king’s food. But Daniel asked him for a 10-day test to see if his fears were well-grounded.
“At the end of the 10 days, they looked better and healthier than all of the young men who were eating the King’s food. So the official continued to remove their food and the wine they were to drink” and gave them their preferred diet, according to Daniel 1:15.
When their three-year preparation ended, “the King interviewed them and among all of them, no one was found equal to Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah. So they began to serve in the King’s court.
“In every matter of wisdom and understanding that the King consulted them about, he found them 10 times better than all the diviner-priests and mediums in his entire kingdom,” Daniel 1:19-20 explains.
“At the end of the 10 days, they looked better and healthier than all of the young men who were eating the King’s food.”
Daniel went on to a long life of wise counsel to multiple kings in which his faith served him well, including the experience of being thrown into the den of hungry lions as a result of his devotion to regular prayer and the conspiracy of jealous counselors to King Darius (See Daniel 6:10-28).
And you may know Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah better by their given Babylonian names of Shadrah, Meshach and Abednego. They refused to bow down to King Nebuchadnezzar’s idol and were thrown into the fiery furnace as a result.
“Then King Nebuchadnezzar jumped up in alarm. He said to his advisers, ‘Didn’t we throw three men, bound, into the fire?’ They replied ‘Yes, of course, your majesty.’
“He exclaimed, ‘Look! I see four men, not tied, walking around in the fire unharmed, and the fourth looks like the son of the gods.” (Daniel 3:24-25). The three were rewarded generously by the King for their faith.
“What will you do? Do you have core convictions? Will you be faithful to them when they are challenged?”
So what about you? What will you do when you find yourself in a compromising situation in your job on Capitol Hill? It may involve being asked, or tempted, to break a law or regulation in order to protect or advance your boss or yourself.
It might be a situation in which you benefit personally at the expense of a staff rival by not quite telling the whole truth about a competitive situation. Maybe you are on official travel with a colleague of the opposite sex and at a certain point you rationalize that nobody back home will know if you take advantage of a compromising situation.
What will you do? Do you have core convictions? Will you be faithful to them when they are challenged? Even if you knew there would be no reward in it, or that you would suffer as a result?
How confident are you about your devotion to your convictions? Have you thought about what you would do in advance of having to make such decisions? If not, how will you do it and who will you turn to for help?