We are the family of Christ

A Word of Advice

Posted by Pastor Mark Moreno on

How are you doing? It is a simple enough question, one that we get all the time, even in a stay-at-home world. We have a chance to answer that a bit more candidly these days. All of us have had our world flipped upside down, and though we have the joy of Easter and the knowledge of Christ’s love, the past month has been frustrating. People I talk to seem to fall into one of two camps: Either they are busier than ever, or they have more free time than ever. I have run into a few folks who say everything is the same, but it’s a much smaller group!

There is a wonderful account in Exodus 18 about Moses and his father-in-law Jethro. Moses was absolutely worn out because he spent much of his time settling disputes among the children of Israel. Jethro encouraged Moses with a strong word of advice: Delegate! Jethro spoke a word of practical truth to Moses that included specifying Moses’ role as well as what others in the community could do to help.

So let’s apply Exodus 18 to your life: Are you worn out? Are there things that you have taken on (either by choice or necessity) that are taking a toll? Can you relate to Moses and feel like your days are filled and you have little time for rest or recovery? Is everything on your schedule and "to do" list needed? Is there another way to get it done?

In Exodus 18, other people are able to use their gifts and abilities to glorify God and help their community. It didn’t all have to fall on Moses! So too in our lives; we combine our gifts and abilities with those of others to serve God and His people! I don’t want you getting burned out, and I don’t want ME getting burned out. This pandemic is giving you and me an opportunity to revisit how we handle things and how we lead. Here are some great takeaways from Exodus 18 that I read in an article by Tom O’Toole:

1. It Is Good to Bring In Outside Voices
Moses was "stuck," and the breakthrough for Moses came when somebody from outside the situation came in and could see things with fresh eyes. This was somebody who Moses knew and trusted, who was able to provide the insight that unlocked this situation for Moses and enabled him to move things forward. Who are the "Jethros" for you who can come in and bring an outside perspective on the things that you are doing?

2. It Is Good to Hear Hard Words
The advice that Jethro gave to Moses was not easy to hear. Nobody likes to be told that the way they are doing things isn't the best way. The way Jethro phrased his counsel was practical, but was also blunt ("What you are doing is not good." - v.17) and it questioned Moses' perception of his own abilities ("You are not able to do it alone." - v.18).

3. It Is Good to Take Advice From Wherever It Comes
In verse 1, Jethro is described as "the priest of Midian." He was not a member of God's people and was almost certainly not a worshipper of God (and to this day he is revered as the chief prophet in the Druze religion). None of this caused Moses to turn his nose up when it came to the advice that Jethro offered. Have you ever heard the adage, "Truth is truth"?

4. It Is Good to Share the Load
The heart of Jethro's advice to Moses was that he couldn't do everything on his own. Jethro suggested that Moses raise up many new leaders who could share in the task and take some of the burden off Moses as the senior leader. It is crucial that we do the same in our lives. By raising up other leaders, you are giving space for them to grow, and in time they may start to come close to (or even exceed) the standard that you had reached on your own. Additionally, your time and focus has then been freed up to take care of other important needs.

5. It Is Good to Recognize Leadership Capacity in Others
When Jethro was advising Moses to create other judges who could work under his authority, he did not suggest giving the same level of responsibility to each of them.

Some of them were appointed to be chiefs of thousands, others of hundreds, still others of fifties, and finally some chiefs of tens.

It is sometimes not as easy to discern what our own leadership capacity is, but it is worth taking the time to reflect on this and to discuss it with others to ensure that we each end up doing the kind of task that we are best equipped for.

6. It Is Good to Stay Involved
Though Moses had handed on responsibility for judging the people, he didn't disappear entirely. He created a system so that the appointed judges could deal with the routine cases. However, if anything was too big or complex for them to handle, then they could refer the case on to Moses. Raising up new leaders is not the same as abdicating responsibility, and it is important that as you give somebody a new role, you are willing to stand with them and provide whatever support they need. Sometimes this means that bringing in a new leader doesn't even initially reduce your own workload, though this will usually change over time as the new leader becomes more assured and competent in their role.

7. It Is Good to Apply Wise Advice
Most of us get tons of good advice. We have lots of people speaking into our lives, making great suggestions for how we could develop things. We read books. We see countless posts. We listen to podcasts. We subscribe to blogs. There are many brilliant ideas out there about how we could move things forward. Sometimes the sheer quantity of advice can become so paralyzing that we don't end up implementing any of it. What made the difference for Moses wasn't just that he received good advice, but that he actually listened to it and implemented it in his own situation.

My challenge to you, then, is to think of one piece of advice that you have been given this week and actually put it into practice and see what happens! May God work in and through you in amazing ways as you challenge yourself to learn and grow!

God's peace,
Pastor Mark Moreno


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