21 Mar. Exodus 18:1-27

21 Mar. Moses’ father-in-law gives him some good advice

“Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law, was the priest of Midian. He heard about everything that God had done for Moses and his people, the Israelites, and how the LORD had led the Israelites out of Egypt.”

“Now Moses had sent his wife Zipporah to Jethro, his father-in-law, along with his two sons… So Jethro took Moses’ wife and his two sons and went to Moses. He was camped in the [Sinai] desert near the mountain of God [Mt Horeb]…”

“So Moses went out to meet his father-in-law and bowed down and kissed him. After the two men asked about each other’s health, they went into Moses’ tent. Moses told his father-in-law everything the LORD had done to the king and the Egyptians to help Israel. He told about all the problems they had faced along the way and how the LORD had saved them.”

“Jethro was very happy to hear all the good things the LORD had done for Israel when he had saved them from the Egyptians. He said, ‘Praise the LORD. He has saved you from the Egyptians and their king, and he has saved the people from the power of the Egyptians. Now I know the LORD is greater than all gods, because he did this to those who looked down on Israel.’”

“Then Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law, gave a whole burnt offering and other sacrifices to God. Aaron and all the elders of Israel came to Moses’ father-in-law to eat the holy meal together before God.”

“The next day Moses solved disagreements among the people, and the people stood around him from morning until night. When Moses’ father-in-law saw all that Moses was doing for the people, he asked, ‘What is all this you are doing for the people? Why are you the only one to solve disagreements? All the people are standing around you from morning until night...’”

“Moses’ father-in-law said to him, ‘You are not doing this right. You and the people who come to you will get too tired. This is too much work for you; you can’t do it by yourself. Now listen to me, and I will give you some advice. I want God to be with you… Tell them about the laws and teachings, and teach them the right way to live and what they should do.’”

“’But choose some capable men from among the people – men who respect God, who can be trusted, and who do not change their decisions for money. Make these men officers over the people, to rule over groups of thousands, hundreds, fifties and tens. Let these officers solve the disagreements among the people all the time. They can bring the hard cases to you, but they can decide the simple cases themselves…’”

“So Moses listened to his father-in-law, and did everything he said. He chose capable men from all the Israelites and made them leaders over the people…”

“So Moses sent his father-in-law on his way, and Jethro went back to his own home.”

          (Exodus 18:1-27)



In today’s passage, Jethro – the priest of Midian and Moses’ father-in-law - visited Moses as the Israelites passed through Midian en route to Mt Horeb (Mt Sinai) (see 8 on the map on 14 March).

Jethro observed Moses’ daily resolution of the Israelites’ disputes, and realised that Moses was doing far more than he was physically capable of doing. And he was failing to delegate simpler tasks to assistant leaders who could take much of the burden of leadership off Moses’ shoulders.

So he advised Moses to appoint responsible people (who would not easily be bribed) to be in charge of groups of ten, fifty, a hundred or a thousand people. Moses listened to his father-in-law’s advice, and appointed judges to oversee the needs of smaller groups of people, and to hear the Israelites’ minor grievances.

As in Moses’ day, it’s very tempting for great leaders to think they are indispensable; it’s often hard for leaders (including church leaders) to delegate responsibility to people they regard as less capable (or less gifted) than themselves. But, as today’s reading shows, it’s impossible for a single leader to do everything themselves, and delegating tasks and decisions to other responsible men (and women) is vital if a large organisation (or church) is to operate effectively.

This is something that all church leaders need to learn. Delegation not only lightens the load on the person at the top, but it also gives the opportunity to train up other leaders and to develop and hone their skills. This provides a natural succession of leaders who, in time, can take over responsibility from those who retire from more responsible leadership positions.

The photo (by Tanya Dedyukhina) shows the Sinai desert where Moses met with Jethro his father-in-law.

You can read more about Moses at Mt Sinai @ https://www.thebiblejourney.org/biblejourney2/25-the-israelites-journey-from-egypt-to-mt-sinai/moses-receives-the-ten-commandments/

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