By Brenda Black
“And Moses' father-in-law said to him, 'The thing that you are doing is not good.
“'You will surely wear out, both yourself and these people who are with you, for the task is too heavy for you; you cannot do it alone.
“'Now listen to me: I shall give you counsel, and God be with you. You be the people's representative before God, and you bring the disputes to God,
“'then teach them the statutes and the laws, and make known to them the way in which they are to walk, and the work they are to do.
“'Furthermore, you shall select out of all the people able men who fear God, men of truth, those who hate dishonest gain and you shall place these over them, as leaders of thousands, of hundreds, of fifties and of tens.
“'And let them judge the people at all times; and let it be that every major dispute they will bring to you, but every minor dispute they themselves will judge. So it will be easier for you, and they will bear the burden with you.
“'If you do this thing and God so commands you, then you will be able to endure, and all these people also will go to their place in peace.'
“So Moses listened to his father-in-law, and did all that he had said.” (Exodus 18:17-24)
I lived for a while thinking I could juggle all the balls thrown at me. I could be all things to all people. Wrong! It doesn't take long before the balls being thrown hit you square in the head and wake you up to your finite abilities. It was a humbling tumble with blackened eye and wobbly legs when I finally learned that there was only so much of me and there were others quite capable of stepping up to the plate if I would just get out of the way. I learned it the hard way. But I became so much wiser. Later in life, when I saw myself in a younger person headed down the same self-destructive path, I recognized the problem a whole lot quicker and gave it a name: Pride.
Self-reliant, confident, talented people can forget Who is truly in charge. Over achievers can lose sight of the One for whom they are working. Progressive thinkers, poetic writers, flamboyant singers are easily sidetracked from giving glory to God. And worst of all, we make pathetic listeners.
I love the verse 24 of the passage in Exodus 18. “So Moses listened to his father-in-law, and did all that he had said.” What a brilliant son! What a smart move!
Moses must have felt tremendous relief to have someone older and wiser to advise him after bearing all the leadership burden for so long through so much. Jethro was a breath of fresh air. Moses is not the only one who can benefit from the wisdom of elders. We all could learn a lesson or two.
Before you convince yourself that the buck stops with you, get an outside perspective from someone who's been around the block a time or two. As an old wives tale once declared, “Many hands make work lighter.” In the case of managing an entire Israelite nation, I think this is one time when that old wife was right. And the remedy holds true in most things we do in modern times. Mentors and mothers, big brothers, fathers, grandparents and teachers all have something to offer to those younger and less experienced. But will we listen?
It's time to take good advice and submit the counsel to prayer just as Jethro suggested to Moses. He was wise enough to present his opinions with one overriding condition: God needs to authorize it.
“If you do this thing and God so commands you,” Jethro clarifies.
Old doesn't make a man wise. Wisdom comes from God. From the outside looking in, Jethro brought a fresh and holy perspective and many, many people benefited. Who can you turn to when the load gets too heavy to carry and will you listen when they bring you a God suggestion?
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