Leadership Lessons from King Nebuchadnezzar

Contrary to popular view, King Nebuchadnezzar was not a tyrant but a mighty, wise and a good king! Learn from him some key lessons to know how to run a great country or a global corporation. The 8 keys are talents, validation, laws, benefits, fair-hearing, 2nd chance, bad-news and true repentance. The negative lesson is telling us not to be proud and to stay humble all the times acknowledging God and the contributions of others.
In reading through Daniel chapters one to four, we will encounter the great King Nebuchadnezzar. We will read about his unreasonable demand of "tell me the dream and its interpretation or else be killed", the order to kill the wise men because of their inability to tell him the dream, the order to worship his golden image or be BBQ'ed etc. We are easily left with the impression that he was a big tyrant. However, if we spend a little more time to dig into the details and to reflect on his actions, we cannot but to conclude that he was indeed a wise, mighty, fair and a good king! Here are the details:

1. Talents Management -Select,Develop,Assess,Appoint.
The selection of talent is given in Dan 1:3-4. The Criteria are:

    1.   of royal and nobility ... background is important
    2.   youths ... potential for development and growth, successors.
    3.   without blemish.... no physical defects
    4.   of good appearance ... must look good too!
    5.   skillful in all wisdom  ... high IQ
    6.   endowed with knowledge... read widely,
    7.   understanding learning ...... learn quickly
    8.   competent to stand in the king's palace... high EQ, know how to behave, talk confidently and social grace.
The development of talent is given in Dan 1:4,5.
    1. They were given the best food and wine as with the king!
    2. Educated with the best of the Chaldean's literature and cultures. Everyone is the same company must share the same mission, vision, values and speak the same language for greatest effectiveness and minimum misunderstanding.
    3. Training period of 3 years. This is the same as the period to get a university bachelor degree!
    4. Assessment by the king at the end. 2 key points to stress:
      1. there must be an assessment to check the learning.
      2. the Boss himself should be involved in assessing his future talents.  Dan 1:19-20. The King found them to be 10 times better! There must be some kind of grading system and also showing the care and seriousness in this matter.
Those found suitable,like the young Daniel and his friends, were appointed into the service of the King.

2. Validations of Interpretation or Forecasts
While it was likely that the King forgot about his dream, nevertheless, it created the situation for him to judge the correctness of interpretation. If we just tell our dreams to others, we can never be sure of the interpretations, as there could be many reasonable ones. Before you believe in anyone's interpretation or prophecies, you must have some criteria to judge it (1 Thes 5:19-22). He definitely had the real acid test.

3. Strict Laws with Clear Rewards and Punishments and Execution
King Nebuchadnezzar ruled his kingdom will very clear laws and orders. He also stated the rewards and punishments clearly. Furthermore, he followed his rewards and punishments faithfully as seen in the rounding up of the wise men and promotion of Daniel in Dan 1, and the throwing of SMA(Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego) into the furnace for their disobedience.

Some parents failed to give clear orders to their children and then punishing their children for wrong doing that they did not even understand in the first place. Such is a case of provoking the child's anger (Ephesians 6:4 Colossians 3:21 ). Some parents may failed to execute the consequence when their children did not obey their orders. That will result in future disobedience of their children since their parents are telling them that the consequences are not for real.

4. Benefits to the People - Share Your Wealth
King Nebuchadnezzar did not just built glorious palaces and gardens for himself. He shared his wealth with the people. This can be inferred from his dream and interpretation in Dan 4:12 ... Its leaves were beautiful and its fruit abundant, and in it was food for all. The beasts of the field found shade under it, and the birds of the heavens lived in its branches, and all flesh was fed from it.

5. Giving a Fair Hearing - Check Out the Malicious Falsehood/Bad Mouthing
There was an accusation made against the SMA that they did not worship the image. The King did not just believe the accusation and BBQ'ed SMA. Instead, he called for a hearing of the case to validate accusation. 
In any where, we will encounter all kinds of gossips and bad-mouthing. If something bad is said against our good friends, do we choose to believe them or do we defend them? Indeed, the way you react, either adding to the gossip or defend for your friends, actually determine whether you are a true friend.

If bosses in the office can behave like King Nebuchadnezzar in validating the bad mouthing, then office politics can be eliminated or at least kept to the minimum.

6. Giving a 2nd Chance
Here we can see the kindness of King Nebuchadnezzar. He gave SMA a 2nd chance to worship the golden image. He did that for Jerusalem, sparing the destruction twice! It was only after the 2nd revolt by Zedekiah that he destroyed the city and the temple.

7. Facing up Bad News - Know the Reality
In Dan 4, he assured Daniel to gave him the honest interpretation. Secured Bosses are willing to listen to honest opinions about them. Insecure bosses usually tell their staff that they are opened to frank opinions and bad news, but then they penalized them later. If we tend to kill the deliverer of bad news, we will never get to hear the truth and will be living in an illusion. See how big old successful companies fail because they fail to face the new reality. 

Unfortunately, King Nebuchadnezzar did not follow the warning of his dream and it turned out exactly as foretold in the dream. This story also tell us the pattern of a true prophecy. The Jonah story is similar to this one but it has a good ending.

8. True Repentance - Testimony for the Truth
Until he became mad and recovered from his madness, King Nebuchadnezzar did not acknowledge the only true God. He recognized the God of Daniel and SMA but he also had his own god, including himself. In this repentance, we can know it is a true one because he even publicly announced it to all his people. Telling the story of his own madness as the king is a great act of courage. It shows that he was not longer concern about himself but more about his ONE and ONLY ALMIGHTY TRUE GOD. He is more concern that his people must know and worship this true God. A true repentance is usually followed up by a public testimony proclaiming the goodness of God that others must come and see. 

I am sure one day when we get to heaven, we will meet King Nebuchadnezzar there.

Lim Liat(C) 28 May 2012