When I started my first job at 16, dad said to me on my way out the door, “Answer to the man.” “What do you mean?”, I asked. “Son, when you’re on the boss’ time, do what he says without complaining.” I took my dad’s advice that day, and it made all the difference.
The Apostle Paul, in prison and facing execution, said something similar to his young apprentice, Timothy.
Endure hardship with us like a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No one serving as a soldier gets involved in civilian affairs–he wants to please his commanding officer.2 Timothy 2:3-4
I’ve never been a soldier, but as a teacher on an army post, I rub shoulders with people in the military every day. One thing I’ve noticed is there’s an Army regulation for almost everything a soldier does. I once asked a military friend, “Don’t you think a ten point checklist to park and secure a combat vehicle is a little over-the-top?”
“What I think is irrelevant. I do my job and follow orders. Anything else is an indulgence.”*SSG McMurtry (Just a cool Hollywood sounding name. Not the real guy’s.)
Impressive. “But what if there aren’t specific orders or regulations for something?,” I asked. “How do you respond?” “That’s when you follow the commander’s intent,” he said.
He explained that, in a combat situation, all written orders are assumed to be fluid. No plan survives intact once there’s contact with the enemy. The commander’s intent is a short statement written in bold print that essentially says, “Whatever happens, this is the most important thing to accomplish.”
VERY impressive. I started looking for commander’s intent statements in the Bible.
I found Paul’s exhortation to the Philippians, who were living under intense persecution.
Whatever happens, conduct yourself in a manner worthy of the Gospel of Christ.Philippians 1:27
And Jesus’ charge to His earliest followers:
Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.Matthew 28:19
Answering to the man (God) can be challenging. If there was only an app called FaceofGodBook, with those little red numbers over the icon–you know, messages from heaven?
However, we do have the Bible, and we know what Jesus did, and we also have the Holy Spirit. And that’s enough to know the Commander’s intent.