In Exodus 18, right before God summons Moses and gives him the 10 Commandments, Moses gets a visit from his father-in-law, Jethro. Jethro observes Moses dealing with everyone’s problems “from morning until evening” (v.13). Being a good father-in-law, he peppers Moses with questions and cuts to the heart of the issue when he asks, “Why do you sit alone?” Jethro sees the bottleneck and calls foul. He asks “Why?” After listening to Moses’s reply, Jethro lays out a leadership structure that widely distributes the leadership burden. Moses follows the advice and doesn’t die an early death of stress-induced heart failure. Here are a few things good leaders like Moses do:
Good Leaders Listen to Those Who Care About Them
Moses was lucky to have Jethro. Jethro loved Moses, rejoiced in what God was doing through him, and cared enough to speak up and critique a situation he felt would ultimately bring harm to Moses and the entire nation. Verse 24 says, “Moses listened to the voice of his father-in-law and did all that he said.” Humbly, Moses listened and heeded the advice of an older man who cared deeply for him and his family.
Good Leaders Look for Other Capable Leaders
Jethro instructs Moses to “look for able men from all the people, men who fear God, are trustworthy and hate a bribe and place such men of the people as chiefs of thousands, hundreds, fifties, and tens ” (v.21). And Moses did just that. This is the constant hunt for a leader. You never know what God will show you when you start looking around.
Good Leaders Let Others Lead
It’s one thing to create a plan and communicate the plan. It’s another to execute the plan. Verse 22 says, “And let them judge the people at all times.” Moses undoubtedly had to say no to some people who came to him and redirect them to other leaders. I’m sure some people had their feelings hurt due to lack of proximity to the one and only Moses.
But, to continue without a change would have killed Moses. They would have really hated that lack of proximity! Verse 26 says these new leaders judged the people and only brought the hard cases to Moses. So, Moses didn’t step out of leadership. He stepped up his leadership and brought others up with him. By pushing it down in the organization, Moses raised others up in the organization. You can do that too.
Good Leaders Let People Leave
Verse 27 says, “Then Moses let his father-in-law depart, and he went away to his own country.” A good leader will say goodbye to people they care about deeply. They will grow and develop in their capacities and will likely move on to greater things.
The text seems to indicate that Moses implemented this strategy immediately. It seems leaders were already there, just waiting on Moses to turn them loose. They just needed the opportunity. Moses, being a good leader, gave it to them.