Scripture: “And let them judge the people at all times. Every great matter they shall bring to you, but any small matter they shall decide themselves. So it will be easier for you, and they will bear the burden with you. If you do this, God will direct you, you will be able to endure, and all this people also will go to their place in peace.” Exodus 18:22-23 ESV
Observation: As revealed earlier in this passage, Moses sent his wife and sons to live with Jethro (18:2), which raises the question, why? Was it because Moses knew he would not have time to care for his family given the mammoth task of leading two million Israelites to the Promise Land? It would offer one plausible reason for Jethro seeking an audience with Moses. Nevertheless, in this God-orchestrated reunion, Jethro observes Moses’ leadership style and conveys wise counsel regarding how Moses could more efficiently oversee all the people’s concerns as their judge. To ensure the mission’s success, Moses must establish a triage of trusted overseers to assess and address the “small matters” of the community. His time and energy could then be devoted to the “great matters” that the elders would present to him on behalf of the people (verse 22 above).
Takeaway: Jethro’s structure for delegating ensures four important blessings:
- It will keep Moses from burning out (v.23).
- It will free time for Moses to love and care for his family.
- It will ensure the success of the mission: to lead God’s people to the Promised Land in peace (v.23).
- It will empower others to lead (fulfilling God’s calling on their lives).
And we see a similar pattern in the life of Jesus:
- He cared for himself via ongoing communion with the Father.
- He cared for his family (even from the cross when he instructed John to look after his mother).
- He fulfilled his mission by bringing reconciliation and preparing a place for all the Father’s chosen people.
- He cared for his disciples (even restoring them after they abandoned him) and all future generations of believers by sending his Holy Spirit to be our counselor and guide.
For us, the risk and rewards are the same as Moses’s. Channeling all decisions through ourselves will inevitably lead to burnout. But if we share the workload and empower others to lead under our supervision, we will have the capacity to fulfill God’s calling on our lives by caring first for our family and then for those he calls us to serve. And we will empower those we supervise to develop the same godly leadership skills, ensuring the well-being of themselves, their families, and the people they lead.
Prayer: Father God, thank you that you did not leave us to our devices to navigate this world but sent us your Son and Holy Spirit to lead us to your heavenly home. Would you please help us as your ambassadors to do the same by exercising godly leadership of ourselves and others? Amen.
Rev. Gordon Green, M.Div., M.A. Counseling