Recently, I re-read Exodus 18 where Moses receives a visit by his father-in-law, Jethro. It’s a well-known story, especially among Christian leaders. It’s often used to make a case for team-building and delegation.
After observing Moses do all of the work by himself, Jethro advises Moses to find and equip capable people to share the load. Jethro suggests …
This will be much easier for you, and they will share your load. If you do this and God directs you, then you will be able to endure. And all these people will be able to go back to their homes much happier. (Exoducs 18.22-23, CEB)
Moses followed the advice of his father-in-law and it was a big help to Moses’ leadership.
But what really struck me as I read the passage this time was the beginning of the conversation. After watching Moses, Jethro said …
What’s this that you are doing for the people? Why do you sit alone, while all the people are standing around you from morning until evening? (Exodus 18.14, CEB)
Moses was doing it all. Jethro seems to imply that there’s a lot of selfishness in doing it all yourself. “Why do you sit ALONE, while ALL the people are standing around YOU from morning until evening?”
While leaders must be out front leading, they must also guard against allowing it to be all about them–for their own sake and for the sake of the people they lead!
The New Testament certainly continues this idea. In Acts 6, the ministry of the early church was growing but the leadership structure wasn’t sustainable for the growing church. Quite simply, they needed more leaders. The apostles found capable people to help carry the load while they focused on “prayer and the service of proclaiming the word” (Acts 6.4, CEB). As a result, “God’s word continued to grow. The number of disciples in Jerusalem increased significantly” (Acts 6.7, CEB).
Later, Paul wrote that God gave leaders to the church “to equip God’s people for the work of serving and building up the body of Christ” (Ephesians 4.12, CEB).
Ministry is too big for any one person. You can’t do it alone! Invite and equip others to help carry the load!