January 2, 2023
An interesting part to the story of Moses is impactful for us today. The scene is typically overshadowed by other dramatic moments from Exodus, such as the burning bush, the plagues, the Passover, the parting of the Red Sea, and the manna. The part worth our attention involves none other than Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law, and the advice Jethro offers. It’s also wise counsel for us now!
Let’s set the stage. All of the aforementioned Exodus drama is in the rearview mirror, and Moses is leading the Hebrew people toward the promised land. Along the way, Moses’ credibility increases, so much that the people keep coming to Moses, wanting him fix their problems and settle their squabbles. “The next day Moses sat as judge for the people, while the people stood around him from morning until evening (Exodus 18:13).” Jethro sees the sheer number of people, the magnitude of the situation, and grows concerned. He asks Moses to explain what was happening and why. Moses responds, “Because the people come to me to inquire of God. When they have a dispute, they come to me and I decide between one person and another, and I make known to them the statutes and instructions of God (Exodus 18:15-16).”
Imagine if Jethro replied, “Way to go! You’ve proven how important you are! My daughter married a hero. There’s no one as great as you, Moses! Everyone depends on you – what a terrific guy!”
But Jethro did not. Far from it!
Instead, Jethro said, “What you are doing is not good. You will surely wear yourself out, both you and these people with you. For the task is too heavy for you; you cannot do it alone (Exodus 18:17-18).”
Jethro named the truth that was hard for Moses to recognize on his own. Perhaps Moses felt such a strong burden of responsibility, that he presumed the remainder of his days would be spent acting as judge for each case, one-by-one, ad infinitum. Jethro’s interjection, however, was surely a liberating observation. It took a fresh set of eyes and an outsider’s voice to guide Moses, so that he could be the best leader on behalf of God’s people.
Jethro’s counsel included other pieces of excellent advice (Exodus 18:19-27). Find trustworthy people. Train them. Entrust them to carry on the work, otherwise you will wear out.
Think about how this applies leadership development for the Western North Carolina Conference. Imagine all of the responsibilities and tasks related to our ministries locally & and through the connection. No one person, even the most gifted and talented, can manage them all. No lone clergyperson, lay leader, staff member, or committee chair can do it all. As Jethro noted, “the task is too heavy.” When the weight is too heavy, either set it down or get extra people to carry.
The theme for this eLead is “Distributing Power.” In your ministry setting, you possess a degree of power. This power is neither negative nor positive. How this power is used -- to lead God’s people in the next faithful step – represents your leadership. Instead of ending up exhausted like Moses, imagine how you can creatively distribute power. After all, there are baptized & gifted people right near you.
The Gospel truth is that Jesus Christ does the heavy lifting. What’s more – by the power of the Holy Spirit, Christ also gives us the strength to do our part. And yes, you do have a part to play. Do not wait for someone else, and do not attempt to carry the entire weight. The church’s mission is too important; it’s need, too urgent. How is God calling you to distribute power?
The January 2023 eLead provides resources that supplement this article.