#130: The Higher You Climb the Harder You Fall

Remember the saying “The higher you climb, the harder you fall?” When I was younger I always thought the author of this quote got it wrong.

Daniel, Nebuchadnezzar

I’ve fallen out of a tree and off a ladder once or twice and believe me it wasn’t hard to fall. The falling part was easy! The landing part, now that was hard!

Now though I think I finally understand what the author meant (I’m slow sometimes). In the context of your career, your position in life, falling from the heights of power is indeed hard.

Just ask billionaire investment financier Bernie Madoff who was convicted of the largest investment fraud in U.S. history. Bernie is currently serving a 150-year prison term.

Or Jeffrey Skilling the former CEO of Enron who was convicted 35 counts of fraud and insider trading. Jeffrey served 14 years of a 24-year prison sentence.

Falling from the heights of executive power to the depths of a prison cell was hard!

Someone who fell even further and harder than Madoff and Skilling was Nebuchadnezzar. His story is a lesson for anyone who is climbing the ladder, and especially for those that have reached the top of the ladder.

Nebuchadnezzar’s Back Story

Nebuchadnezzar grew up in a palace in Babylon. His dad was the king and founder of the Chaldean Dynasty. As prince Nebuchadnezzar was a successful military commander, winning numerous battles and expanding the empire over which the Chaldeans ruled. He captured Palestine in 605 B.C. and brought David and a number of Jewish leaders back to Babylon with him.

Nebuchadnezzar built a giant statue of himself and told everyone they must worship his image. Of course, David and his Jewish friends refused and that led them to be thrown into the fiery furnace where God saved them and brought them out of the furnace unscathed. Nebuchadnezzar praised God for rescuing David and his friends and warned the entire nation that anyone who spoke against God would be killed (Daniel 3).

But Nebuchadnezzar was a proud man who continued to worship other gods, refusing to recognize that God had given him this position and could just as easily take it away. He rejected David’s counsel to repent (Daniel 4:27). Nebuchadnezzar had another dream that Daniel interpreted and this dream indicated that God had decided to take his kingdom away from him. A year later an unrepentant Nebuchadnezzar was walking on the rooftop of his palace proud of all that he had accomplished, “by my mighty power and for the glory of my majesty” (Daniel 4:30).

That was it, God spoke to Nebuchadnezzar stripping away his kingdom, and forcing him to live in the fields like cattle for seven years until he acknowledged that God was sovereign (Daniel 4:30-32).

At the end of seven years, Nebuchadnezzar raised his eyes to heaven praising God, recognizing His power over all the earth. Nebuchadnezzar’s power and authority were restored. He became even more powerful than before, and he continued to praise and glorify God (Daniel 4:36-37).

Nebuchadnezzar’s Lessons for Us

God gives both position and power to leaders. But God expects the position and power to be used for good, for the benefit of mankind, not for the leader’s own self-aggrandizement.

God also expects leaders to recognize the source of the power and position is not of their own making, but is bestowed by God.

Nebuchadnezzar had personally witnessed the power of God in saving Daniel and his friends from the fiery furnace, but for himself, he refused to accept that his power and position were not of his own making.

By refusing to use his power and position for good, for refusing to heed Daniel’s warning, and for refusing to recognize God, God punished him for seven years until he finally humbled himself and accepted God as sovereign.

If you want to avoid a hard fall in your career make sure that you realize that the position and power you enjoy as a leader comes as gifts from God, but that they come with the added responsibility of being a faithful steward of the gifts.

If you don’t, God may humble you by removing you from your position and power. Hopefully, you won’t spend seven years eating grass in the field like a cow before you repent and return to God.

Join the Conversation

As always questions and comments are welcome. Have you experienced times in your life when the pride of accomplishment obscured your vision of God’s blessings? Have you seen the effects of pride and pride’s impact on other leaders? What happened to them?

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Category: Relationships | Power/Influence

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