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. 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. If you do this and God so commands, you will be able to stand the strain, and all these people will go home satisfied.”Exodus 18:21-23
Jethro cared about his daughter’s family. His son-in-law Moses had a big job but was burning his candle at both ends. In compassion, Jethro offered Moses advice to help him work in a healthier way: “What you are doing is not good. … The work is too heavy for you; you cannot handle it alone.” (Exodus 18:17-18)
Exodus 18:13-27 describes Jethro’s supremely practical suggestion for Moses to divide his labour into tens, his fifties, hundreds, and thousands to reduce his leadership burden and delegate responsibility to the people of Israel.
Jethro said if Moses followed his suggestion, he would prevent himself from burning out and his people would all be much happier with the outcome. It would free Moses to focus on a overarching strategy, so to speak, and not be held up with trivial matters. And the system would empower his people to work simple matters out themselves.
Jethro was ahead of his time, this is a leadership structure that still holds true today.
Jethro offered his wisdom to Moses in love and Moses, thankfully, had a teachable spirit. He could have ignored his father-in-law’s wisdom and continued down the path toward exhaustion, but Moses chose instead to follow Jethro’s advice. He could have received this as criticism of his work, but instead Moses heard it as a gift from a wise mentor.
Sometimes we become irritated when people offer unsolicited advice. “Who are they to tell me what to do?” But God calls us to care about the people around us. Sometimes caring means sharing our wisdom, and other times it means being willing to be taught.
Prayer: Lord, we can be so stubborn when it comes to accepting the advice of godly mentors who seek to care for us. Give us the courage to listen to those who speak your Word lovingly into our lives. In Jesus’ name, Amen