What do the initials G.M. bring to your mind? The automaker General Motors? A key in my pocket has G.M. engraved on it. It’s a Grand Master that will open most doors in the building.
In the realms of industry and professional sports, G.M. stands for General Manager.
An article in the Harvard Business Review identifies several responsibilities of a General Manager. The G.M. shapes the work environment, crafts a strategic vision, marshals resources, builds up the organization, and supervises operations. Effective leaders, including those who lead churches, understand the importance of management principles like these. However, in the church we have only one General Manager: Jesus Christ. He is the Head of the body, the Master of the ministers, the Author and Finisher of our faith, the King of kings and Lord of lords. He sets the vision, directs our work, and makes the final call about policies and procedures. “For the Lord’s sake” we respect and pray for the leaders who guide our nation (1 Peter 2:13), for by doing so we submit to our G.M.—“the Shepherd and Overseer” of our souls (v. 25).
The Final Say-So
When you negotiate to buy a car, the salesperson might say, “I need to discuss your offer with my manager.” The sales rep disappears into a backroom and leaves you squirming, wondering if your offer will be accepted. Although I dislike that experience, I understand the chain of command. If a customer makes an unreasonably low offer, the salesperson can’t say, “Sure, I’m okay with that,” without checking with the boss. The G.M. has the final say-so.
In a similar way, when the Scriptures have clearly spoken, you and I can’t bend the rules just because someone doesn’t like them. Our job is to comply with the Lord’s will. Followers of Christ have the privilege of consulting with the G.M. We surrender to his direction because we trust his judgment, even when his standards go against our personal inclinations. Jesus calls us to deny ourselves, so we can’t make self-indulgence our main goal in life. We can’t say it’s okay to harbor hypocrisy, greed, ingratitude, lust, envy, and self-righteousness in our hearts, for the G.M. considers such attitudes unacceptable.
Christians must respect the G.M.’s instructions. Don’t ask us to bless sexual intimacy between same-gender partners, or to pretend it’s okay for unmarried heterosexuals to engage in sexual relations. How can we affirm behaviors the Bible unambiguously disapproves? We aren’t trying to be judgmental. We simply can’t say something is okay if the Lord says it’s wrong. Yes, the God of grace forgives sin; but who determines what is a sin? God does. It’s not our job to redefine standards ordained by the Creator and pretend that disobeying the Lord is no big deal. Getting drunk is forgivable, but that doesn’t mean it’s advisable. Cheating on your spouse—even in your heart? The G.M. says “no.”
It’s not legalistic, intolerant, or unloving to obey the Lord. It’s wise. God knows us better than we know ourselves. Jesus said, “If you love me, keep my commands” (John 14:15). When we decide to follow Jesus, that means we trust him with the final say-so about the rest of our decisions.
Are you looking for wise counsel? Open your Bible and talk things over with the G.M.
David Faust serves as the Associate Minister at East 91st Street Christian Church in Indianapolis, Indiana.
Lesson study ©2018, Christian Standard Media. Lesson based on The Lookout’s Scope and Sequence ©2018. Scripture quotations are from the New International Version, ©2011, unless otherwise indicated.