When Jethro saw all that Moses was doing for the people, he asked, “What are you really trying to accomplish here? Why are you trying to do all this alone while everyone stands around you from morning till evening?” Jethro the Midianite Exodus 18:17-18
Feedback is a gift.
Moses was in a fix. After 40 years in the Sinai wilderness simply looking after sheep and his own family, he found himself leading hundreds of thousands of people. Talk about rapid change. He had no idea what God was getting him into. I imagine at first Moses thought, “God just wants me to get my people out of Egypt and then I can go home. I won’t actually need to be in charge of these folks.” Ahhh…nope, he was stuck with these people.
Moses had been in the desert with the children of Israel for a short period of time when his father-in-law Jethro visited. After a short while there, Jethro challenged his son-in-law with the above observation found in Exodus. From a business standpoint Jethro was one the Bibles’ first management consultants to be engaged with a large organization, much like Joseph when he took over management of Egypt. Moses had a big organizational management problem; he was doing all the work himself.
Here’s how Jethro helped Moses and the new “Israelite organization”.
• Delegation – Prior to Jethro, Moses handled all decisions. Again, Jethro’s wisdom in action…”They will help you carry the load, making the task easier for you…you will be able to endure the pressures, and all these people will go home in peace.”
• Clarity of Functions – He put job descriptions in place for Moses’ leadership team. “They (Moses’ newly appointed leaders) should always be available to solve the people’s common disputes, but have them bring the major cases to you (Moses). Let the leaders decide the the smaller matters themselves.”
• Character Counts – He defined the character qualties for the leadership team: “…select capable, honest men who fear God and hate bribes.”
• Span of Control – Jethro defined boundries…”He put them in charge of groups of one thousand, one hundred, fifty and ten.”
• Leadership Development - Jethro knew that in order to really possess a land and build a nation, Moses needed to develop strong leaders and this could only be accomplished by giving capable people real responsibility and letting them freely carry out their roles.
Why is this important to us?
Here’s why. Moses had spent time in intimacy with God but God chose not to share these principles with Moses directly. Why? My theory is that God wanted to use Jethro. We need mentor’s; people who can build relational equity in our lives and who can give us essential feedback and perspective. God likes it when we lean into spiritual family and draw wisdom from those around… “he who walks with the wise grows wise”, (Proverbs 13:20). Moses trusted Jethro after years of working for him in the family enterprise. God wanted Moses to know that other leaders could give him strategic input to his cause, despite the fact that Moses was likely closer to God than Jethro. Jethro had not been a slave in Egypt but a priest of Midian and a shepherd (small business owner). Understandably, slaves often find themselves simply thinking survival thoughts, not strategic ones, so possibly Jethro was one of the few around Moses that could speak into his situation.
In the mentor instance above, Jethro was older, had more experiences under his belt, had the respect of Moses, and was in proximity to him. These are great criteria, though not an exhaustive list for how you can go about finding a Jethro or a mentor for your life.
Feedback is a gift. Find a Jethro. Here are a few questions you could ask him (or her) to help prime your feedback pump.
1. What are some specific ways I can go from good to great in my spiritual, physical, emotional, or work life?
2. If you were in my position (age, career, married or single) what strategic steps could I take to best prepare myself for the next 5 years.
3. Here’s one for the Jethro’s in your life that know you really well. If there was one thing you felt that was holding me back from achieving my highest potential (spiritually, emotionally, physically, work-wise, etc.), what is that one thing and how can I deal with it?
-- Ron Jacobsen
Ron is married to his best friend Rebecca and is dad to 10 children ranging in ages from 21 to 15 months. He has served as a founding executive for a regional hospitality real estate company for over 15 years and has attended KPIC for that same time period. He loves the outdoors, mountain biking and any activity that includes one of rmore of his children.