Been focusing on leadership quite a bit lately. Started thinking about the scripture where Moses is trying to handle everything and what it could teach about leadership. Soooo I ventured into the Bible to see what I could see. Care to join me?
We are looking at Exodus 18 and skipping down to verse 13.
We find Moses sitting in judgement, just like a court judge would do today. Listening to the people and making a decisions as to who is right or wrong. He did this from sun up to sun down. Take a look up and down your street – how many disputes do you think go on each day just on your street. What if you had to sit down and litigate those arguments – can you even imagine! Now figure the number of people around Moses was greater than the number in your city! How could one man do this? I think I would go insane!
Now I have a question, why did Jethro have to travel such a long distance in order to be the one person who would speak up? Think about that for a minute or two. What Moses was doing this day, wasn’t the first time he did it. Don’t you think someone else thought what Jethro thought? I bet it was a topic for discussion around the water cooler – er well, don’t you?
Do you think there were people who would have been more than willing to help? What kept them from stepping up? Did they just not feel qualified? Wonder if they did offer, but were turned down? What if Moses had other Jethros come to him, but he ignored them? Jethro had a special position because he was Moses’s father-in-law. We know Moses respected him because in V7 he bowed down and kissed him. Maybe Moses just wouldn’t listen to the people around him, because they weren’t important enough? He didn’t respect them enough? Or maybe Moses wasn’t approachable enough for them to express their thoughts? Are you a leader who let’s people share their thoughts?
In verse 15, one word stuck out to me, me. I didn’t stutter, it’s the word ‘me.’ When Jethro asked Moses why he did this, Moses answered, “Because the people came to me …” They didn’t go to Aaron, they came to me. They didn’t seek out Joshua, they came to me. Me is the only one who can discern God’s will. Me is the only one God will talk to. Me is the only one who can do this just right. ME ME ME ME!!!
Is there a mini-ME somewhere in your life? Is there a place where you think you are the only one capable of doing what you are doing? Why? What makes you think God would only create one person in all the human race capable of doing what you are doing? Oh, wait, I know, there are other’s capable, they just aren’t around you, right? Why not? Yes, I asked you, Why not? Why do you think God didn’t put anyone else around you capable of doing what you are doing? Is it possible they are but you just don’t see them? Hmmm, might be a little hard to answers, those questions are. **Channeling my inner Yoda.**
I’m wondering, did Moses ever take the time to look around him? Or was he just focused on the task before him? Surely if he had taken the time to look around, he would have seen other’s capable. Think about it, there was an entire “church staff” all around him, course they aren’t official stuff until Chapter 28, but they were there. Wouldn’t you think at least two or three of them just might have been capable of making a decisions or two? Figuring out what God’s will might be? I don’t know, look around you, who are you over looking as you try to do everything yourself?
I like when Jethro says,
“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.” V 18 MSG
How many times has burn out happened around you, as a leader? Notice Jethro points out ME is not going to be the only one burnt out, but THEY will too. My thought was, why would the people burn out? What were they doing to get burned out? Here are a few things I came up with, but it’s just my pondering, nothing says this is what they were doing:
- Bickering while they waited. Dawn to Dusk people! Someone had to be at Dusk. Do you really think everyone sat around and sang Kumbaya while they waited?
- Nothing. Maybe they did nothing but wait. Sometimes that in itself can be draining, right? Imagine all the work they weren’t doing as they waited for their answer.
- Became hopeless, frustrated, aggravated … and think about this, how can you take the judgement of someone who you are upset with because he made you wait for so long?
I don’t know, but apparently Jethro saw something in the people which brought him concern. Have you looked into the faces of those around you? Those you lead? What do you see? If they are getting burned out – have you considered your leadership might be contributing to it? Not something I would have really considered before reading this. Have you?
Sometimes as leaders I think we miss what our real role is. It isn’t to bark out commands. It isn’t to do the work ourselves. It isn’t always to make the decisions. It’s really about teaching. Jethro reminds Moses of this. Teach them. If you think you have to do all the work yourself because no one around you can do it, then you must be failing as a teacher. Sorry, does that hurt? I’ll give you some people aren’t teachable. Some people don’t want to learn. Some people just can’t learn. But you can not tell me there isn’t at least one person standing around whom you can teach. And if there isn’t, shouldn’t you as a leader go find someone who is teachable? If you don’t have anyone teachable, exactly who are you leading? Take some time to consider this for a moment or two. Are you teaching or failing as a leader?
Let GO!!! Just let go! Jethro tells Moses, let it go, let it go, can’t hold it back anymore – oops, sorry got frozen for a moment. hehe. He tells Moses let those capable judge every minor dispute themselves. Wow, how freeing could it be! Teach, teach, teach, then sit back and enjoy the fruits of your labors. We have to learn to trust people after we’ve taught them all we know. They might make a mistake here or there, but those just create more teachable moments, right? Who have you delegated authority too? Are you holding on too tightly? The question which comes to mind here is, What are you afraid of? Your inability to let someone else lead has a root of fear in it. Dig it out! Figure out what you are afraid of, face it head on, and then Let it go!
Moses didn’t loose all control. Jethro basically tells him to be available for the really important judgement. I wonder how many petty arguments Moses judged, and how many really big ones slipped through the cracks? My guess is there were many people who got tired of waiting and walked away. Maybe nothing major happened by them walking away, but what if something major DIDN’T happen because people walked away? What is calling all the minor shots costing you? What great things are you keeping from happening because you are focused on the minor instead of on the major?
Look at what Jethro says will happen if Moses does this:
If you will do this thing and God so commands you, then you will be able to endure [the responsibility], and all these people will also go [back] to their tents in peace.” v23 MSG
In order to be a leader for a long period of time, you have to empower other leaders, or else, you will not endure. And if you do not endure, who’s future have you jeopardized besides your own? Who’s life might have been changed or impacted but isn’t because you burned out? As a leader, whose fault is it if you burn out?
And there is peace. the people will have peace. If you are a leader and you do not see peace on the faces of the people you lead – what changes are you going to make? It would be nice to say, well, they just weren’t cut out for it. Or maybe they would be better somewhere else? Or they, they, they … but aren’t YOU the leader? If people are burning out under your leadership – whose fault is it? If you are a good leader, shouldn’t you notice them beginning to burn out? What are you going to do to keep those you lead from burning out?
I can almost see why there would be more peace. Think about it, you would go from being 1 of a thousand people waiting in line, to one of ten. The people wouldn’t sit around all day waiting on an answer. They wouldn’t be frustrated because they couldn’t do their job, couldn’t be with their family, and couldn’t relax – they would be at peace because they would get answers much faster. Their issues, problems, disputes, would be taken care of much faster. There wouldn’t be a day of sitting around moaning, groaning, and telling everybody sitting around them about their problems … they wouldn’t have any. How long do the people you lead have to wait on an answer from you? What processes are you holding up because everything has to go through you?
Sure there would be times when they might have to move into the line of 50 or 100, but my guess is, it wouldn’t happen very often. When people get results, see results, and are heard, peace is restored, so the quicker they can get what they need, the better the whole group is. Are the people you lead getting what they need? Are they at peace? If not, what are you going to do about it?
I think one of the most important lines in the entire chapter is at the end. If this line did not exist, the entire chapter would be worthless.
So Moses listened to his father-in-law and did everything that he had said. v 24 MSG
The real question is, are you listening? If not, then maybe the question is, why are you leading?
Well, as usually, the Bible carries a few punches with it. Thinking on these for awhile. Thanks for joining me.