Summary: Jethro’s advise wasn’t just good for Moses in his day, it’s also good for Christians today. What lesson can we learn from this ancient man of God.
OPEN: Back in the 90’s there was a president of was a president of Harvard University named Neil Rudenstine. Now, one of the major roles of college president is to raise money for the institution so they can pay the salaries and other financial responsibilities of the organization. And Neil Rudenstine was very good at meeting that need. For three years - since he became the school’s president - he methodically raised a $1 million a day for Harvard..
The reason he was so successful was that he was passionate about every facet of his job. He focused on both the big and small things in the college. Besides spending twelve hours a day on a demanding job, he fretted banquet menus, argued about his $10-15 medical co-pay and, wrote notes to the football coach, the editors school newspaper, the various staff as well as the dorm house masters.
But one morning in November, he overslept and just couldn’t manage to make himself go to work. When he went to the doctor, he was diagnosed with “severe fatigue and exhaustion.” The directors insisted he took an indefinite leave of absence to recover.
So he did.
And he didn’t return for the next seven days.
In fact, he didn’t return for the next seven weeks.
In fact, he spent the next seven months recovering from his fatigue. (Courtesy of Victor Yap Sermoncentral.com based on stories from Newsweek 3/6/95, U.S. News & World Report 12/12/94)
APPLY: Watching Moses put in long hours day after day, Jethro said to him: "What you are doing is not good. 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.” Exodus 18:17b-18
When Moses led the people of God out of Egypt there were at least 600,000 men with their wives and children (Exodus 12:37). And all day long, every day for several weeks, he’s been in the desert with these people and he has constantly been judging their many conflicts and disputes.
It’s obvious that it’s tiring Moses out. He’s been doing this from early morning til late nite for several weeks now. Jethro can see the fatigue in Moses’ eyes and he sees how haggard Moses appears each day.
And it’s obvious that the people aren’t real happy with this arrangement either. It’s wearing them out as well too.
Have you ever stood in a long line at the Grocery store or at the Post Office? Have you ever gotten impatient if you had to wait more than a few minutes? (me too)
Imagine what it would be like if you had to wait in line for HOURS to get service! Out here in the desert… there’s over a million people… and only one line to stand in.
You can kind of get the idea of what this must have been like for the average Israelite.
So Jethro watches what’s going on and he realizes his son-in-law needs some advice. So he makes a suggestion. He says: “Moses, you need help.”
Look again with me to Exodus 18:19-21
“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. Teach them the decrees and laws, and show them the way to live and the duties they are to perform.
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.”
In other words: don’t quit doing what you’re doing… just learn to share it with others.
You see, God never designed us to work alone.
Do you remember back in Genesis – when God created man? Do you remember the reason He gave for creating Eve? He said “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him." Gen. 2:18
It’s an abiding principle in Scripture that when we work for God - we need to work with others.
That’s part of the reason Jesus didn’t do His ministry alone. He selected 12 men to work along side of Him. And THEN - when he sent them out to do their work - do you remember how he sent them out? “He sent them out two by two” (Mark 6:7 & Luke 10:1)
Because trying to work for God all by yourself can wear you out.
Ecclesiastes 4:10 “If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up!”
Ecclesiastes 4:12 says: “Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.”