The Wisdom of an Old Man
Ex 18: 13-26
In verse 13 – 18 a classic local Church problem is described, all the decision making is concentrated in the hands of one man. Through Jethro, God gives the solution for leadership which has not delegated either authority or tasks.
Moses’ entire day was occupied with solving people’s problems (verse 13). This situation was ‘not good’ (verse 17) because Moses will be worn out (verse 18) and so will the people – because they cannot have quick access to someone for counsel and decisions.
Jethro put forward the following solution:
Select (choose) leaders with varying degrees of responsibility (verses 21 to 26). Their levels of responsibility (ie thousands, hundreds, fifties, tens) do not imply an individual’s ultimate capacity but rather his ability at a given point.
The essence of delegation is that we can grow into new responsibilities and therefore authority.
The primary responsibility of the leadership was
- to pray and intercede (verse 19)
- to teach (verse 20)
- to demonstrate lifestyle and function (verse 20)
Note the qualifications of these leaders (verses 21 to 22):-
- capable (noun means strength),
- men who fear God,
- trustworthy men who hate dishonest gain.
Note also the parallel passage in Num 11:4-30.
The result of this would be – your load will be lighter because they will share it with you; you will be able to stand the strain and the people will go home satisfied (Ex 18:22-23).
In considering the views of Jethro, Moses needed his mind to be changed, ie a renewing of the mind.
Read the story of the feeding of the 5,000 plus (Lk 9:12-17; Jn 6:1-13). Jesus said to the apostles give them something to eat (Lk 9:13), There were two reactions:
- Philip’s – ‘that’s impossible’ (Jn 6:7), contradicting the clear command of Jesus,
- Andrew’s – he brought to Jesus the boy with the five loaves and two fishes.
Philip reckoned without Jesus; Andrew realized that Jesus could do something. If we allow God to renew our minds as leaders, ie change our thinking, God can use us.
A leader has been described as a person who sees more than others, who sees farther than others, and who sees before others.
A leader doesn’t wait for things to happen; he helps make things happen. He’s at the point of action. That’s one reason why some people shy away from leadership responsibilities. They know that ‘he who would lead the band must face the music’. A leader is a man of initiative, a man who originates action.
The Scriptures abound with examples of people who took the initiative in accomplishing God’s purpose in their day.
Isaiah stepped out from the ranks to become a voice for God in his generation. ‘Then I heard the Lord asking, “Whom shall I send as a messenger to my people? Who will go?” And I said “Lord, I’ll go! Send me”‘ (Is 6:8).
Rebekah in the Old Testament became the wife of Isaac and the mother of millions because she took the initiative in serving Abraham’s servant (Gen 24:14-21).
In the gospels we find a young boy who became the focal point of a great miracle because he stepped out and offered his lunch to help feed a hungry multitude (Jn 6:9-11).
To take the initiative is a God-like characteristic (Rom 5:8). And when God does something, it bears his hallmarks. These marks can help us focus our own expectations.