Today on the Daily Audio Bible we read Exodus 18. There are many stories I enjoy revisiting in our yearly revolution through the word, but this one has become both special and a continual challenge to me.
Here’s the story that always connects with me:
12 Then Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law, brought a burnt offering and sacrifices to God, and Aaron came with all the elders of Israel to eat a meal with Moses’ father-in-law in God’s presence. 13 The next day Moses sat down to judge the people, and they stood around Moses from morning until evening. 14 When Moses’ father-in-law saw everything he was doing for them he asked, “What is this thing you’re doing for the people? Why are you alone sitting as judge, while all the people stand around you from morning until evening?”
15 Moses replied to his father-in-law, “Because the people come to me to inquire of God. 16 Whenever they have a dispute, it comes to me, and I make a decision between one man and another. I teach [them] God’s statutes and laws.”
17 “What you’re doing is not good,” Moses’ father-in-law said to him. 18 “You will certainly wear out both yourself and these people who are with you, because the task is too heavy for you. You can’t do it alone. 19 Now listen to me; I will give you some advice, and God be with you. You be the one to represent the people before God and bring their cases to Him. 20 Instruct them about the statutes and laws, and teach them the way to live and what they must do. 21 But you should select from all the people able men, God-fearing, trustworthy, and hating bribes. Place [them] over the people as officials of thousands, hundreds, fifties, and tens. 22 They should judge the people at all times. Then they can bring you every important case but judge every minor case themselves. In this way you will lighten your load, and they will bear [it] with you. 23 If you do this, and God [so] directs you, you will be able to endure, and also all these people will be able to go home satisfied.” 24 Moses listened to his father-in-law and did everything he said. 25 So Moses chose able men from all Israel and made them leaders over the people [as] officials of thousands, hundreds, fifties, and tens. 26 They judged the people at all times; the hard cases they would bring to Moses, but every minor case they would judge themselves.
Here’s Moses, super-hero-savior-miracle-worker-dude, who just brought the Israelites out of Egypt. And where has he wound up? In my world, we call it scope creep. His role as “leader” has gradually evolved to mean just about everything – from finding water in the desert to leading the crowd down the road to solving their petty disputes about who gets the best campsite each night. His father-in-law shows up and bluntly tells him, “What you are doing is not good.” You’re working yourself to death, and these people you’re helping are suffering because of it! Lighten your load! Spread the burden. Raise others up.
This is so true. As a person of influence in a few areas of life, I’ve found “control” to be something I secretly long for on a consistent basis. We believe, as Vladamir Lenin once said, “Trust is good, but control is better.” How WRONG! Jethro speaks both common sense and straight out truth to Moses here when he exhorts him to raise up others to carry the load he can’t manage on his own.
Yesterday we had a company brainstorming and goal setting session. By company I mean “all two” of us that live at the office every day. It was flat out awesome. Not only do we generate more ideas when working together like this, but they’re more personal to each and every one of us, and not skewed by short-sightedness or lack of perspective.
I’m also reminded of the opportunity I had to step in and help the Brian Hardin of the DAB a few years back. The Daily Audio Bible was growing rapidly, but its single server couldn’t handle the load of all the MP3 traffic he was pushing through it. It was getting burnt out, frayed, and the listeners were suffering for it. I was able to step in and help “lighten the load” by building a distribution system that took the daily traffic and scaled it out to any number of servers evenly. It’s affirming to think that without stepping into this opportunity set before us, the DAB might not have been able to grow like it has over the years. Sure, something else could have helped. Someone else couuld have stepped up. But they didn’t have to. God gave us the opportunity to help, we stepped in, and everyone has been the better because of it.
As I said, this passage is a good reminder to me that what Lenin said was flat wrong. Control may be good, but trust is better.
Are you burdened by more then you can carry? Lighten your load by sharing it. Don’t have anyone to share it with? Consider what Peter said about God in 1 Peter 5:7:
Cast all your cares upon Him, because He cares for you.