[Daniel said,] “Please test your servants for ten days: Give us nothing but vegetables to eat and water to drink. Then compare our appearance with that of the young men who eat the royal food, and treat your servants in accordance with what you see.” So [the guard] agreed to this and tested them for ten days. At the end of the ten days they looked healthier and better nourished than any of the young men who ate the royal food. So the guard took away their choice food and the wine they were to drink and gave them vegetables instead. 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 1:12-20)
Last week, we saw how Daniel respectfully declined to obey his employer’s command to eat defiled food from King Nebuchadnezzar’s table, as doing so would have violated his ultimate allegiance to God’s commands.
Today’s passage shares the rest of the story, with Daniel proposing an alternative solution and God graciously producing extraordinary results. Verse 20 says that the king found Daniel and his God-fearing friends “ten times better than all the magicians and enchanters in his whole kingdom.”
This is the first time we hear of Daniel setting himself apart at work, but it’s certainly not the last. In Daniel 5:14, King Belshazzar says that Daniel was known for his “enlightenment, understanding, and excellent wisdom.” Daniel 6:3 tells us that “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.”
In short, Daniel was exceptional at his job. He was ten times better than his colleagues. And because of that, he (and more importantly, his God) stood out to the unbelievers in the palace where he worked.
Google is famous for encouraging their employees to adopt “10X thinking.” The idea is that unlike traditional corporations who think in terms of making a product 10 percent better, Googlers are expected to make their products 10 times better as that is how you stand out in the marketplace.
It’s also how we and the God we serve stand out at work.
We shouldn’t aim to be 10% better than our colleagues or competitors. We should aim to be like Daniel—10X better. Not so we can pridefully say we’re the best. And not primarily to land a promotion or bigger valuation. We should strive to model Daniel’s example because the ministry of 10X excellence makes us winsome to unbelievers, serves employers and customers well, and brings glory to our great God who must be credited for our inexplicable results.