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How to Navigate the System to Avoid Getting Burned by Caryl R. West, MBA


With the many changes that have and are taking place within our country, it is becoming increasingly more important for black men to properly manage the system to avoid being burned. There are some things that are outside of our control, but there are others that we can personally navigate to enhance our chances of being successful.

To help us understand this principle, I refer to a bible passage found in Daniel 3. In this chapter, we find three Hebrew young men who had been taken into captivity in Babylon. Because of their wisdom and skills, they were placed in positions of power. The head political figure established a system that required those in his community to submit to his authority and worship him. He surrounded himself with others who were charged with enforcing his rules and inflicting punishment on those who would not conform. These three young men would not conform to the king’s orders.

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In the ensuing paragraphs, I will share seven principles that can be extracted from this story to assist us in navigating the system.


These three young men would not follow the instructions of the king; they would not bow down and worship this leader’s “god” nor his statue. Principle number one, Don’t bend or bow down to everything or for everyone! You must take a stand for that which you believe is right. Others around you may succumb and choose to bend, but you have a responsibility to be true to your convictions.


Because these young men would not adhere to the instructions of the king, they were subjected to a hot situation; they were literally thrown into a furnace. They were willing to face the consequences of their actions. Principle number two, “Don’t allow fear to determine your decisions.” When you choose to do the right thing, there are times when things will not go your way. You may have to deal with some difficult consequences. Do the right thing anyway!


Before the king had them thrown into the furnace, he asked if their God would deliver them from this situation. They responded that even if their God did not deliver them, they knew that He was still able. Principle number three, “Never lose sight of God’s power and ability.” Even when you find yourself dealing with a difficult situation, God may not always rescue us from that situation at the time we desire. Don’t allow your faith to waiver. Be confident and know that His response does not have anything to do with His ability. He is still able to deliver you!


Before these young men were thrown into the fire, the king had their hands and feet bound with ropes. But, while they were in the furnace, the fire burned away the very things that had them bound. Principle number four, “Don’t miss that something good can happen even in a bad situation.God can, and often does, use your situation to set you free from things that others did to bind you.


God did not preclude them from having to go through the fire. The text does not even give us an indication of how long they were in the furnace. However, we do know that God showed up in the fire with them. Principle number five, “No matter what you have to face, know that God will never leave you nor forsake you.” God may not rescue you from every difficult situation, but He will show up in your situation. Whatever you are facing, He is there!


The king continuously referred to these young men as Shadrach, Meschach and Abednego. These were not their birth names, but the names they were given when they were taken into captivity. However, they never forgot the names that were tied to their destiny – Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah. Principle number six, “Don’t allow how others define you to impact your perception of yourself!” Others may call you by names that you were not given. But, never allow how others define you to preclude you from pursuing your destiny. Never forget who and whose you are!


They fell into the fire, but the fire did not consume them. They walked out of the fire, without being burned. Principle number seven, “Don’t allow the situations you face to leave permanent damage to you!” Yes, you may fall into some things that are outside of your control, but you can control the impact that those things have on you! They were in the fire, but they did not allow the residue of the fire to get in them or on them.


In our current environment, you may have to take a stand for some things that result in you finding yourself in hot situations. Every choice has a consequence; good or bad. These consequences may be designed to harm you, but they do not have to burn you. You can navigate yourself through your situation. When you choose to stand up for right, remember that God is with you and you will be elevated in the end. After coming out of the fire, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah were promoted to higher positions within Babylon.


Caryl R. West, MBA is a Human Resource Professional and Financial Executive with demonstrated abilities in strategic and project management. He is familiar with all aspects of human resource management, including policy development, recruitment, employee relations, performance management, compensation, benefits administration, payroll, organizational development and training. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Accounting from Indiana University and an MBA with a concentration in Human Resource Management from Indiana Wesleyan University.

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