I’m catching up on my one year Bible reading from over the weekend. In Exodus 18, we hit this story about Moses:
13 The next day Moses took his seat to serve as judge for the people, and they stood around him from morning till evening.
14 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?” 15 Moses answered him, “Because the people come to me to seek God’s will.
16 Whenever they have a dispute, it is brought to me, and I decide between the parties and inform them of God’s decrees and instructions.” 17 Moses’ father-in-law replied, “What you are doing is not good.18 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.19 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.20 Teach them his decrees and instructions, and show them the way they are to live and how they are to behave.21 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.22 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.
As I get older and older, I am realizing what a stud Jethro, Moses father-in-law, was. I spent the first part of my life trying to do everything on my own. I wanted to prove I could, I was a type A guy, and I was proud of it. God had made me to be a take charge, get it done person. Leadership books agreed with what I believed, adding fuel to the fire.
But I got tired of being alone in leadership. I got tired of having to cover my tracks for mistakes I made, or having to own my mistakes over and over. I was worn out from doing a lot, and not really going anywhere in the long run. The whole type A thing is a rocket, it flies fast, shoots high, makes a big bang, and then lands back almost where it took off from, only to reload and do it all again.
God has worked on me and shown me that I need to apply all of my talents and abilities into building into others. It seems basic, and over stated. But how many of us are actually doing it? There is no glamour or praise in it. We don’t become famous by building an effective team. We just become effective.
I no longer want to be a rocket zooming into space. I want to be a roller skater from the 80’s. Big hair, Def Leppard playing on the speakers, pants pegged at the cuffs. We would go skating when I was a kid and go around and around and around the same little circle. It wasn’t so much about where we were going, as it was about doing it together. Sometimes we got to laugh, sometimes we got to slow skate with that someone special, and sometimes we got to crack the whip. This was where a lot of us got in line, held hands, and skated fast around the circle. We would all work together to go faster than any of us could go alone, and then, at just the right time, we’d all lean forward and pull. The person at the end of the line would be ready, and we’d put all of our combined energy into them, and they’d snap and take off, passing all of us, going faster than any of us had ever gone. They’d cruise around the circle, and pass us all up.
That’s the leadership I want to have. I want to be on a team that launches people out into ministry, with each one going farther and faster for the kingdom than the last. I want them to succeed, not because they are so amazing, but because a lot of amazing people poured into them. Then, they can start their own line, in their own skating rink, and begin launching people. And the kingdom will move forward, a perpetual machine of love, motion, and service.
Jethro was a stud.
I only wish I could have seen it sooner.