Moses' father-in-law replied, "What you are doing is not good. You and these people who come to you will only wear yourselves out. The work is too heavy for you; you cannot handle it alone.
One area of ministry that I have always struggled with is delegation. I am a task oriented person, so it is just easier for me to do a job than to orient someone else to do it. There are two major problems with this strategy. First, I tend to take on more than I can realistically handle. Second, I deny others the opportunity to serve in meaningful ways. Oh yes, there is a third drawback, it hinders the ministry from growing.
In my daily devotions. I have been reading Exodus. When I came to Exodus 18, it jumped off the page at me. God had led the people of Israel out of Egypt. He had saved them from the pursuing Egyptian army. He had provided for them food and water in the desert. At this point, the people are camped in the desert getting organized. Moses’ father-in-law, Jethro, comes to Moses to see how things are going. He is excited about all that God had already done for the people and for Moses. But as he observed the operation of the camp, he noticed a significant flaw.
The next day Moses took his seat to serve as judge for the people, and they stood around him from morning till evening. 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?" Exodus 18:13-14
Jethro was not impressed by Moses’ leadership style. Moses had taken upon himself the responsibility for the entire group of people. All day long he would listen to people’s questions and disputes. It was a tedious and draining exercise. It hindered Moses from doing what God had called him to do and it frustrated the people. Jethro, as an outside observer, called Moses onto the carpet. Listen son, this is not good. You need a better plan. So Jethro suggested one.
Listen now to me and I will give you some advice, and may God be with you. You must be the people's representative before God and bring their disputes to him. Teach them the decrees and laws, and show them the way to live and the duties they are to perform. But select capable men from all the people--men who fear God, trustworthy men who hate dishonest gain--and appoint them as officials over thousands, hundreds, fifties and tens. Have them serve as judges for the people at all times, but have them bring every difficult case to you; the simple cases they can decide themselves. That will make your load lighter, because they will share it with you. If you do this and God so commands, you will be able to stand the strain, and all these people will go home satisfied." Exodus 18:19-23
Moses listened to Jethro and things improved. Unfortunately, I identify with Moses (too much). Because I have a high sense of responsibility, I tend to take on too large of a role. Like Moses, I need to learn to let go and delegate responsibility to others. I have taken steps in this direction, but I still have a long way to go.
The overall lesson from this story is that the Christian life and ministry is a shared experience. If we try to do God’s will alone, we will become overburdened and discouraged. We need one another as active partners. God has gifted each of us with unique abilities that He wants us to use for the good of the body of Christ. It as we share the load that we accomplish far more for God than we ever could going solo.
From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.