Moses is in the middle of another busy day when his father-in-law Jethro arrives at camp with Moses’ wife and children. It must have been like an oasis in the desert to see his family for the first time in a long time.
In Exodus 18 however, the spotlight is on Jethro as he observes Moses’ leadership in action. He observes the daily routine in the camp. Everyone who has a legal dispute or matter to be heard by the court lines up and one by one, Moses hears each case and judges accordingly. If you’ve ever stood in line to dispute a speeding ticket, you get the picture. This wouldn’t be such a big deal if we were talking about a couple of hundred people. But multiply that by 10,000 and you’ve got a time management problem on your hands.
At the end of the day, Moses is exhausted and piles into bed, only to rinse and repeat the next day. With no end in sight, he created at the very least, job security for himself, but at this rate, he wouldn’t last long enough to see his pension kick in.
Jethro was a wise man and it was obvious to him that Moses needed to make some immediate changes or this would be the end of him. Sometimes in ministry and business, the obvious is overlooked. We get on the wheel and go as long as it keeps turning without even thinking how we will sustain ourselves for the long run. The immediate cries out and the squeaky wheel gets the grease while our family, health and other important values are pushed aside.
I know I’m biased, but I think Jethro might be one of the first personal coaches in the Bible. Besides being a priest, he took the time to observe Moses and asked him some key questions to make him think. The first one was “What are you spending all your time and energy on?” and the second question he posed was “Why are you doing it all yourself?” You and I could ask ourselves the same questions.
Moses’ response was off the cuff. He started off with “Because…” and by the time he finished his sentence, Jethro told him that what he was doing was not good. He pointed out that Moses’ health was at risk with a schedule and workload that would kill someone half his age and lovingly scolded him for not delegating.
Then, inspired by the wisdom of God, Jethro gave Moses some wise counsel as to how he could share the workload by dividing the responsibility among the leaders. Moses receives the correction and heeds Jethro’s advice, appointing heads over thousands, hundreds, fifties and tens, according to each one’s ability to lead. From that time on, only the difficult cases were brought to Moses, freeing him up to focus on leading the nation.
I’m convinced that God gives others the keys to our problems because we were created for community. Moses needed Jethro and Moses needed other leaders to come alongside him in order to fulfill his purpose for that period of time. Obviously Moses had great wisdom to be able to judge civil cases all day long without a break. He just got so caught up in what he was doing, it didn’t cross his mind that there were others who were ready, willing and able to help.
If you’ve ever planted a church or started a business, you know how easy it is to get consumed with it all, especially in the beginning stages when there may not be anyone else to help. But even then, there are viable options for sharing the workload; whether with volunteers or virtual assistants, some of the work must be delegated or you will end up paying with your health, your family or other things that matter to you.
Everyone has a blind spot, not just with character issues that seem so obvious to others (especially your spouse), but with obvious solutions to problems that have you stumped. I remember when I was around 9 years old, I watched as my Dad and my brother measured out walls for a new bathroom. I was no genius by any means, but as they talked about what would go where, asked them innocently, “Where’s the door?” They looked at each other and smiled because they hadn’t considered the obvious.
This is why we need each other in the Body of Christ. Even leaders with all their brilliant strategies can at the best of times miss the obvious. As those leaders, we must be humble enough to listen and consider what others are saying. Sometimes the obvious is not so obvious. But with good people around you that are willing to speak the truth in love, you can get into alignment with God’s will and God’s way of doing what He’s called you to do.
Are you focused on one area of your life, to the detriment of your health, family or other important values? Who can you trust to allow them to speak into your life and offer godly wisdom regarding your situation? I would appreciate hearing your thoughts and comments on this topic.