After leading the people of Israel out of slavery in Egypt, Moses was back in his wife’s homeland. While Moses had been working long hours in negotiations with Pharaoh and the Israelites and God, Zipporah had stayed with her family. Now that Moses was in the area, Jethro, his father-in-law, provided an escort for his daughter and two grandsons back their dad.
Moses welcomed Jethro. As any good son-in-law would do, Moses took Jethro to work with him. It was an opportunity to show that he was doing well, that he had graduated from leading sheep to leading people. After a day of watching, Jethro had some advice, like any good father-in-law.
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?”
Jethro had four suggestions for Moses.
- Remember your job.
- Teach people who they are
- Show people how to live
- Release people to serve in ways appropriate to their capacity.
We’re going to spend a couple days looking at Jethro’s advice. It applies to many leadership settings, particularly when you are willing to let other people grow in their capacity to serve others.
We’ll start with 1. Remember your job.
Jethro said, “You must be the people’s representative before God and bring their disputes to him.” Moses’s job wasn’t sorting out every argument about who stepped on whose foot. His job wasn’t deciding how each person should fix manna. His job wasn’t herding sheep or pitching tents or gathering wood. It wasn’t that he wasn’t capable of doing those things. He had been a shepherd for 40 years. But that wasn’t today’s assignment. Interceding was.
Jethro wanted him to remember.
drawn from Exodus 18