But my eyes are fixed on you, Sovereign Lord. Psalm 141:8 (NIV)
(Something like a Veggie Tales story)
Many years ago there was a young pea named Danny. He was a fine young pea – round and green, like good peas should be. The trouble was he lived in a great and wicked city far from home and there were few peas who had more obstacles across their path than Danny Pea. Still fewer rose as high as him. And no other pea survived the pit like he – but we’re getting ahead of ourselves.
It all started when Danny Pea was about twenty years of age. He and three of his friends were happily growing in a pea plantation just outside of Jerusalem when they were prematurely harvested and taken off to Babylon. There they were, in a foreign land, with a foreign tongue, and foreign food. It was dreadful, to say the least. They faced problems that no young peas should have to face. But despite the difficulties’ Danny and his friends’ Shad Pea, Shack Pea and Ego Pea made every effort to be President’s Choice Peas.
In fact Danny Pea so distinguished himself among the Babylonian peas he eventually rose in power and influence until he became Prime Minister Pea – set over the whole kingdom. The pick of the pod! Yes, Danny Pea was exceptional. Of all the Mede and Persian peas there was no one to match him. So, because of his fine qualities he was answerable only to the King of Peas, his royal highness, Darius, the Great Pea.
Now, you may ask; “What made Danny Pea such an outstanding pea?” “How does one pea end up being the pick of the pod?” “How do peas deal with difficulties?” And you may even ask; “If Danny Pea became such an outstanding pea how can I become a great pea too?”
Well, Danny did five things in order to become the pick of the pod:
He had a fixed purpose. In Daniel 1:8 we’re taught that Danny purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the king’s diet. He resolved to not eat or drink any food that was bad for his health. In so doing he illustrated that his eyes were fixed on the Lord (cf. Psalm 141:8). For Danny obviously knew that you need to set your standards when you’re young. In this way he teaches us that character is usually made or ruined before you’re thirty. And he reveals that if we want to get ahead then we must aim high and strive for the goal.
He had thoughtful planning. Danny didn’t sit around waiting for a big break. He went into action. When the king’s servant came with the king’s meat and wine, Danny suggested a substitute of “vegetables to eat and water to drink” Daniel 1:12. A ten-day test in which the king’s guard could see whether a veggie dip was better than the king’s cheese and wine. “At the end of the ten days” Danny and his friends “looked healthier and better nourished than any of the young men who ate the royal food” Daniel 1:15. So his thoughtful planning helped him to come out as one of the best.
He made thorough preparations. To become a prime minister, a president, or a premier, you need to prepare now. Danny knew this full well. The Bible tells us that he applied himself to “all kinds of literature and learning” and “at the end of the time set by the king” none were found to be equal to Danny (Daniel 1:17, 19). In the New Testament we learn that the person who is faithful in little things is given responsibility over many things, but the person who is faithless in little things will have even these things taken away from him (cf. Luke 19:11-27). So develop a full rounded life and endeavour to be like Jesus by growing “in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and men” Luke 2:52.
He developed persistence. Danny knew how to keep on keeping on. He outlasted several Babylonian kings. He succeeded despite the plots of administrators and satraps (cf. Daniel 6:4). And he survived a night in a den of hungry lions. It was one thing after another, challenges upon challenges, struggles compounded on struggles. It would have been easy to say, “Well, this is an impossible task.” But Danny never surrendered, never gave up, never stopped trying. For Danny knew, as the disciples learnt, that we are really Jesus’ disciples when we hold to His teaching (cf. John 8:31).
He persevered in prayer. “Three times a day he got down on his knees and prayed, giving thanks to his God, just as he had done before” Daniel 6:10. That’s a necessity if you want to be the pick of the pod. Pray, pray, pray – at least three times a day. For it’s only when you trust in God that you’ll become exceptional. And it’s only when you anchor each day in prayer that you’ll get ahead and not despair.
So there you have it. If you want to become the pick of the pod, you need to learn from Danny. Five P’s are needed in your life: Firstly, have a fixed purpose. Secondly, be thoughtful in your planning. Thirdly, make thorough preparations. Fourthly, develop persistence. And fifthly, persevere in prayer. Practice these five P’s and even if you don’t become president, you’ll certainly get further in life than you could possibly get without them.