The King Is Slow to Learn (Daniel 4:1–37)

KING NEBUCHADNEZZAR proved himself to be one of the most arrogant leaders in history, so self-centered and prideful that God dealt with him in a most unusual way.

God gave the king a vision of a huge tree, chopped down by an angel. The tree represented him. God removed him from his position and drove him into the wilderness to live like an animal. His hair and fingernails grew long; he ate the same diet as the beasts of the field; he dwelt in caves and dirt shelters. And he stayed out there until he fully recognized God as the supreme Ruler of the world. He had to learn submission, relinquish control and power, and become teachable.

Fortunately, God’s discipline worked. Once the king returned to the palace, he became a different man. He no longer laid claim to sovereignty or wisdom. He perceived his greatness as God-given (Dan. 4:36). He sought to honor God rather than himself as the source of every good thing (4:37). Notice how Nebuchadnezzar developed a teachable spirit:

1. Grateful Words
The king expressed appreciation and blessing for God’s grace and mercy.

2. Hungry Mind
The king possessed a passion and hunger for personal growth.

3. Big-picture Perspective
The king saw things from a new, larger viewpoint.

4. Dissatisfaction with the Present
The king did not feel content with the status quo or mediocrity.

5. Humble Heart
The king expressed humility regarding his own importance and power.

6. Magnetic Spirit
The king began once more to attract nobles and counselors.

How about you? Are you a teachable leader? Do you want to dictate the people or circumstances from whom you will learn, or will you learn from anyone? Consider a few steps to improve your teachability:

1. Don’t believe your own press.
The greatest enemy of tomorrow’s success is today’s. Don’t get distracted by your achievements.

2. Observe how you react to mistakes.
Do you admit them when you make them? Do you apologize or get defensive? Get honest about your needs.

3. Try something new.
When was the last time you did something for the first time? Challenges change us for the better and keep us learning.

4. Grow in the area of your strength.
Read books on leadership and in your area of giftedness. Don’t be satisfied with where you are today. Keep stretching.

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