As leaders we fall into a trap thinking we must do all things in our way all by ourselves, especially when led of God for a specific task. We fail to realize that this handicaps and stunts the growth of those God is preparing to lead with us. We can actually rob them of their blessings by God to grow in serving! This passage opened my eyes years ago and the words have profoundly changed the way I lead others. Take notes as we read, this is great stuff (wisdom) from a father-in-law who has the right advice for an overworked, overwhelmed leader.
Exodus 18, The Message
1-4 Jethro, priest of Midian and father-in-law to Moses, heard the report of all that God had done for Moses and Israel his people, the news that God had delivered Israel from Egypt. Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law, had taken in Zipporah, Moses’ wife who had been sent back home, and her two sons. The name of the one was Gershom (Sojourner) for he had said, “I’m a sojourner in a foreign land”; the name of the other was Eliezer (God’s-Help) because “The God of my father is my help and saved me from death by Pharaoh.”
5-6 Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law, brought Moses his sons and his wife there in the wilderness where he was camped at the mountain of God. He had sent a message ahead to Moses: “I, your father-in-law, am coming to you with your wife and two sons.”
7-8 Moses went out to welcome his father-in-law. He bowed to him and kissed him. Each asked the other how things had been with him. Then they went into the tent. Moses told his father-in-law the story of all that God had done to Pharaoh and Egypt in helping Israel, all the trouble they had experienced on the journey, and how God had delivered them.
9-11 Jethro was delighted in all the good that God had done for Israel in delivering them from Egyptian oppression. Jethro said, “Blessed be God who has delivered you from the power of Egypt and Pharaoh, who has delivered his people from the oppression of Egypt. Now I know that God is greater than all gods because he’s done this to all those who treated Israel arrogantly.”
12 Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law, brought a Whole-Burnt-Offering and sacrifices to God. And Aaron, along with all the elders of Israel, came and ate the meal with Moses’ father-in-law in the presence of God.
13-14 The next day Moses took his place to judge the people. People were standing before him all day long, from morning to night. When Moses’ father-in-law saw all that he was doing for the people, he said, “What’s going on here? Why are you doing all this, and all by yourself, letting everybody line up before you from morning to night?”
15-16 Moses said to his father-in-law, “Because the people come to me with questions about God. When something comes up, they come to me. I judge between a man and his neighbor and teach them God’s laws and instructions.”
17-23 Moses’ father-in-law said, “This is no way to go about it. You’ll burn out, and the people right along with you. This is way too much for you—you can’t do this alone. Now listen to me. Let me tell you how to do this so that God will be in this with you. Be there for the people before God, but let the matters of concern be presented to God. Your job is to teach them the rules and instructions, to show them how to live, what to do. And then you need to keep a sharp eye out for competent men—men who fear God, men of integrity, men who are incorruptible—and appoint them as leaders over groups organized by the thousand, by the hundred, by fifty, and by ten. They’ll be responsible for the everyday work of judging among the people. They’ll bring the hard cases to you, but in the routine cases they’ll be the judges. They will share your load and that will make it easier for you. If you handle the work this way, you’ll have the strength to carry out whatever God commands you, and the people in their settings will flourish also.”
24-27 Moses listened to the counsel of his father-in-law and did everything he said. Moses picked competent men from all Israel and set them as leaders over the people who were organized by the thousand, by the hundred, by fifty, and by ten. They took over the everyday work of judging among the people. They brought the hard cases to Moses, but in the routine cases they were the judges. Then Moses said good-bye to his father-in-law who went home to his own country.
WHAT DO WE LEARN—HOW DO WE RESPOND?
Today we take our clues of wisdom and practice for Jesus, Himself, who rarely did anything alone. He prayed alone in a quiet place to get direction from Our Father, God, but the ministry of compassion was always carried out with his disciples. Think about it, seriously, of all the times Jesus ask for help from his disciples. (Feeding the 5000, paying taxes, etc.) These activities served to help them grow to serve in the most excellent way by His Love, in His Name for His glory. They, in turn, passed this method on to others! We are the benefit of Jesus’ work in them!
How do we respond?
- Pray! Pray for God to bring people to you. Pray that you will recognize their gifts and what God is doing in them to help you help others know and follow Jesus.
- Bring them along with you wherever you go. Jesus did this often! As His disciples matured in following Him, He then sent them out two by two to do what He did.
- Teach like Jesus! Jesus invited his disciples to watch Him as He did the will of God. Jesus then invited them to do ministry tasks with Him. Then He sent them out under his watchful eye. The disciples came back to “report” how well it went. Then there was discussion and advice for improvement. Finally, upon Jesus ascending back to heaven, He sent them out on their own with groups of others (and us) with these words; “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:19-20
- Partner with someone with a humbled attitude. Seek out those who you can train to do what you do, better than the way you do it currently. God will certainly bless this way of thinking! He did for me when I woke up to the fact that I am not sent to do HIS work alone.
Help us to know you more and walk in your ways, leading in ways that teach others to lead with us in your Name for your Glory so others will know you more! Thank you, Lord for the privilege to serve you every day by serving others.
In Jesus Name, Amen
Paul to his young ministry apprentice, Timothy:
“You have heard me teach things that have been confirmed by many reliable witnesses. Now teach these truths to other trustworthy people who will be able to pass them on to others.” 2 Timothy 2:2, NLT
Thank you, Lord. I think we’ve got it, now help us to live it in response to your loving advice. In Jesus Name, For YOUR glory, Amen