Exodus 18:12-23 (NIV)
Then Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law, brought a burnt offering and other sacrifices to God, and Aaron came with all the elders of Israel to eat a meal with Moses’ father-in-law in the presence of God. The next day Moses took his seat to serve as judge for the people, and they stood around him from morning till evening. When his father-in-law saw all that Moses was doing for the people, he said, “What is this you are doing for the people? Why do you alone sit as judge, while all these people stand around you from morning till evening?” Moses answered him, “Because the people come to me to seek God’s will. 16 Whenever they have a dispute, it is brought to me, and I decide between the parties and inform them of God’s decrees and instructions.” Moses’ father-in-law replied, “What you are doing is not good. You and these people who come to you will only wear yourselves out. The work is too heavy for you; you cannot handle it alone. Listen now to me and I will give you some advice, and may God be with you. You must be the people’s representative before God and bring their disputes to him. Teach them his decrees and instructions, and show them the way they are to live and how they are to behave. But select capable men from all the people—men who fear God, trustworthy men who hate dishonest gain—and appoint them as officials over thousands, hundreds, fifties and tens. Have them serve as judges for the people at all times, but have them bring every difficult case to you; the simple cases they can decide themselves. That will make your load lighter, because they will share it with you. If you do this and God so commands, you will be able to stand the strain, and all these people will go home satisfied.”
What burdens do you carry? I know I’ve carried many burdens throughout my life. Some by my doing and some by others. When my daughters come to me with a problem, I think to myself, been there, done that. The reward of been there, done that is the learning part. That learning part allows me to share with my daughters what I’ve learned from my problem or burden. I believe that’s why we experience the heaviness of burdens. We learn from them.
Burdens can overwhelm us tremendously. Especially when we try to carry them alone.
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Do you feel alone during this time? Do you feel overwhelmed like you’re on a hamster wheel that just keeps going around and around? Do you ask for help or do you see that as a sign of weakness? Or maybe it’s just pride that stops us from asking for help. I’m very guilty of letting my pride interfere with not asking for help. Most if not all of us know this feeling well. Do you feel if you do share no one will understand? Men especially don’t want to show the weakness they might feel if they shared. My daddy was one of those men who never shared his feelings. Military through and through. He never wanted me to view him as weak.
The story in our scripture is a story of not only leadership but asking for help. I wrote about leadership in my book, A Place Called Common Sense. The chapter entitled “When Leaders Emerge” speaks to finding leaders in times of turmoil. The leaders who carry our burdens.
Jethro is Moses’ father-in-law. This scripture takes place during a time of the Israelites wandering in the wilderness. They’ve been following Moses all this time. They are learning along the way and begin to see a sign of hope. Jethro, however, sees that Moses can no longer handle the burden of being the full-time judge. Moses feels he is helping the people by taking time to listen to them.
Jethro and Moses go inside the tent to have a conversation. We see here that Jethro is taking time to listen to Moses. This is important to leadership. Jethro says nothing and just listens to Moses’ burdens. Moses not only talks about his burdens but his victories as well. Jethro rejoices in those victories. This is another important part of leadership. Listening and then rejoicing in victories. Jethro observes and when it’s appropriate he speaks and describes what he sees. He goes with Moses and watches Moses’ day.
Jethro puts a very important question to Moses. He wants him to tell him everything he’s been doing. Then Jethro says, “You seem to be the only one here listening to all these people.” Jethro tells Moses he’s going to wear himself out. He says it’s not good. He tells him he needs to share the burden. When you’re in that type of position do you listen and remember? In Jethro’s observations, he sees that Moses is overwhelmed by life. But he feels if he asks for help he’ll be letting the people down. But Jethro knows that Moses needs help.
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As followers of Christ, we need to be able to notice when others appear overwhelmed.
Too many people are smothering with depression. As Christians and as a friend we must listen, observe, and offer a plan. Sometimes we need a Jethro in our life to observe and help.
Jesus said, “For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.” (Matthew 25:35-36) In other words, Jesus said you noticed.
Jethro offers a plan for Moses to alleviate some of the burden. He suggests to Moses that he train others to do what he’s doing. Honestly, isn’t it hard to do that? Turn over some of the control. Let others help. What we must remember is that it’s healthy to work as a team. Needing help is not a weakness. It takes a bit of humility to invite the Jethros in.
Leadership ain’t for the faint of heart. It means so much more than managing others. As a leader, one must have the ability to help and enable those on their team to reach their highest potential. Leaders inspire and motivate their teams. They take pleasure in their team’s success. Teamwork is always the key to leadership.
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How does this story apply to you and how will you apply this story? How are you at being a Jethro?
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And that’s what I learned in Church……see ya next time!