“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?”
In my prior post on Exodus 18, I recounted the story of Moses and Jethro and explored two principles of mentoring. You may recall that Moses had returned with the Israelites from their exile in Egypt and undertook single-handedly to resolve all of the disputes that two million Israelites had built up while in Egypt. He literally went from dawn to dusk taking the cases on one at a time while all of the others stood around waiting their turn. Jethro comes for a visit, and watches this spectacle and is shocked at what he sees. He gently pulls Moses aside and gives him some advice, which was to find Godly men to take the load of the cases, reserving the hardest disputes to himself. For all we know, if Jethro hadn’t been in town, Moses would still be out in the desert judging disputes to this day.
The two principles I explored last week were: 1) Every Moses needs a Jethro, and 2) Every Moses needs to listen to a trusted advisor. I have used this biblical story in two countries – Kenya and Cameroun, with pastors who often don’t have a Jethro, or alternately, have never been a Jethro to another pastor. They are isolated, often to the point that bad things happen. As the resident of a Halfway house in Stamford, Connecticut said, “The mind alone is a bad neighborhood.” Pastors don’t have moral failures in a group – they get isolated and have no other resources to help them with their struggles. It is often a deadly combination, both to the pastor who fails and to the kingdom who watches it happen and is quick to condemn.
The next two Jethro Principles that come from this story follow the thought of the last one:
- Every Moses has a blind spot. In Exodus 18, Moses couldn’t see the obvious solution to his dilemma, that he needed to turn over the task to trained Godly men, which would free him up to be what God wanted to be: the leader of the Israelites. We all have blind spots – things we can’t see, or, perhaps more often, things we see but openly choose to ignore. Either one is potentially deadly. Having a mentor to observe you and provide Godly counsel is a welcome thing, yet so few cultures have maintained a priority for people to be Jethro’s in each other’s lives. I have been in a peer mentoring group of 3 men that has met weekly for close to 24 years. I cannot express how valuable a resource it has been for all of us as we share our struggles, successes and sometimes our failures in life together.
- Delegation is hard. I have often thought that the act of delegation is somewhat unnatural, because it involves the transfer of the responsibility for a task that we have done regularly, often for some time. But, in life, we aren’t gifted in every aspect of leadership. Success as a leader is finding a way to get things done which are not your strengths by those who are gifted or talented at those tasks. Through delegation, you can be freed up to work on issues which are more consistent with your strengths. Put another way, we should look to build to strengths, not to weaknesses. Pastors are particularly guilty of not delegating. They become a choke point in their church, often to the detriment of themselves and their church. They unwittingly can be a modern day Moses who felt obligated to be a judge because the people trusted him. MentorLink is committed to encouraging pastors to collaborate and partner with others to accomplish kingdom goals. That means, by necessity developing the capacity to delegate.
So, what’s your blind spot? Is it one that you chose to ignore? Does someone know you well enough to gently point it out to you? If not, you need to find a Jethro. And, how is your ability to delegate? Have you successfully transferred a task or assignment to others? It takes a little work in the transition, but you will be better off as a leader for having mastered the art of successful delegation.