Every Leader Needs a… Jethro?

February 3, 2010

Jethro Bodine

That’s right, Every leader needs a Jethro, and no, I’m not talking about the one from the Beverly Hillbillies, but a much older one and one who was very wise.  This Jethro was the father-in-law to Moses. 

Jethro giving Moses advice

After the Israelites made their way into the dessert and begin to get used to the new life of Manna, Quail, and water from a rock things began to settle down.  Jethro had heard of all the great events that had taken place for Moses and the Israelites and wanted to reunite his family together again.  After meeting up in the dessert with his wife Zipporah, his father-in-law Jethro, and their two sons Moses began to share in person all the mighty works that God had done for them.  (Ex. 18:1-11)

After Moses spend some time with the family, it was then time for him to get back to work.  What did Moses do for work?  According to the scripture (Ex 18:13-16) he sat around all day acting as sole judge for the people handling disputes and arguments over everything from A to Z.

When Jethro saw what was going on he recognized that it was not a good thing that Moses was doing.  I think he saw the beginnings of a workaholic in the makings and perhaps new what it might do to Moses and his family.  Jethro offers some great advice to Moses and we will take a look at it and break down the advice, but, first it is important to see that Moses took the advice from Jethro and didn’t ignore it.  (Ex 18:24)  I think that this was a big step in the “young” leadership level of Moses.

The following are 3 reasons why we might not be as smart as Moses and ignore advice from others.  First, because far too many times we as leaders think we have it all figured out and we often turn a deaf ear to other advice from Godly men and women.  After all, God put us in charge right?  It also could be that we are insecure about our position and don’t want to take advice from others in fear that we will not look as smart.  Yet, another reason might be that we are in the position and enjoying the power a little too much and we don’t yield ourselves to other advice because we see it as a sign of giving up power.  

If you have found yourself dealing with any of those thoughts you need to pray them out of your system and recognize that Satan doesn’t want you to be smart like Moses and learn from others around you that are older and have more experience.  Young leaders have a greater tendency to fall into these pitfalls because they have had fewer years of experience and that budding desire to be young man or woman of God sometimes leads us make hasty decisions that we think are correct, but are not.  There is much excitement and emotion in youthfulness.

So let’s take a look at the advice that Jethro gave Moses.  There is much we can learn from his advice also.

The wisdom of age allowed Jethro to point out to Moses the end result. (Ex 18:17-18)  There is a lot to be said about knowing the end result.  Often times we start a process or idea without often thinking all the way through to the end.  This can lead to unnecessary steps in a plan or even repeated steps in a plan which wastes time, energy, and resources.

Second, Jethro encouraged Moses to use other people and not try to do it all by himself.  This process is called delegation.  Not too many leaders want to dive into that because they would rather “do it their way” or “in their time.”  Again I think there is a fear of giving up power or control when you delegate things.  When you have delegation in ministry you have to share the successes and the defeats, the good and the bad.  A selfish person finds it hard to share success with others, but there is no room for selfishness in ministry.

Jethro reminded Moses what his main job was, to be the representative from God to the people and to teach the laws of God and show the people how to live.  (Ex 18:19-20)  The judging had become a bigger issue for Moses and distracted him from his main purpose as leader of the Israelites.

Jethro’s advice was to select “capable men” (Ex 18:21) and not just anybody to share in the responsibility and position.  Here is the last leadership principle found in this chapter, Good leaders surround themselves with other good leaders or team members.

 Notice the “capable men” were described as godly men of integrity not as good-looking, well-liked, popular, those that have $20 haircuts or have beautiful families.  Jethro used the following descriptions:

            Men who fear God

            Trustworthy

            Men who hate dishonest gain

These 3 descriptions are very similar to the qualifications for deacons and overseers found in Timothy.  A good Baptist joke I know is that there are some churches that will take the list in Timothy and only focus on the divorce issue.  It doesn’t matter what kind of person they are as long as they haven’t been divorced.  That one qualification seems to rise to the top over the other ones.  A friend of mine has joked before that you can be a non-tither, wife and child beater and serve as a deacon as long as you haven’t been divorced in some churches.  Not all churches are like that and carefully look at all the qualifications equally. 

 A sure way to cause problems for yourself in leadership is just to settle for anyone to serve and help you in ministry and just throw anyone into a position without first.  I realize that you may say, there are not a lot of candidates to choose from out there, which is true but you can’t lower the Biblical standards just to fill a position.  There must be another way to go about staffing your needs.

 The result of shared ministry and delegation is that you can accomplish more together as a team than you can alone.  The old Oxen story goes that if 1 ox can pull 500 pounds each, but 2 oxen yoked together can pull 1,200 pounds.  Together more is accomplished.  Look at the Exodus 18:23, the scripture says it will both benefit Moses and the people at the same time.


Under Fire

January 19, 2010

I decided a few days ago to start writing out my thoughts on a more regular basis and publishing them online.  I have been hesitant to do this in the past because I know that whatever I write will be open for criticism and can be looked at under the microscope by different people.  If you are going to post things for the world to see you should at the very least be responsible with what you post.  Most of all, I wasn’t sure I had the time to give to it.

As a student pastor working with teens, I already, have to make sure what I say and teach lines up with the teachings from the Bible and not just a good thought or my own personal opinion about a subject.   In a world that loves a subjective truth and moral relativism the truth is so easily lost in the endless voices of anyone who can blog and post to the internet.  If anything I think the online posts will cause me to strive to give my best and  make sure I have an eye for the details.  

At first, truth can be hard to swallow, and is often met with excuses and ignored by many people.  We all tend to get a little defensive when we are brought under the microscope or examined closely.  In the end, it is like the much needed medicine that can cure us from our aliment of sin and, we are glad we recieved it.  I see this all the time from students who want to justify the way they live their lifes against the truth of God’s word.  In the end it always comes back to bit them, no matter how many times they deny or ignore it. 

Why am I doing this?  My aim to try to represent the one true God of the Bible that I love and serve by presenting a world-view of the events that will unfold around me in my world.  I’m not looking for fame or a following, just a opportunity to represent Jesus in a Biblical way to a world that needs a savior.   I see so many examples of people who call themselves Christians or disciples of Christ, but when they open their mouths, type on the social networking pages, or live out their life in ways that are so contrary to the Bible and the way Jesus lived.  I just want to announce in a loud voice “That’s not God!”

Realizing that NO ONE is perfect and we will all fall short of God’s purpose and plan for us (Romans 3:23) I want to make sure that you know that I am no better than the next disciple of Jesus, giving my best for him, is still not good enough.  There are 2 kinds of followers of Jesus I believe ones that try to live their life the way God intended, learning more and more as they grow in their faith and then the other group of Christians who know the differences between right and wrong and they continue to disobey God’s desire for their life, ignoring conviction of the Holy Spirit.  I’ve been both kinds of these and I have to constantly guard myself from slipping back into the second type EVERYDAY.  Perhaps this blog will help hold me accountable to live like the first kind of follower of Christ.

We know that people look at us and judge us, right or wrong, everyday.  It’s so important to live the kind of life that best represents a correct life-picture of what the Bible says and how Jesus lived his life.   Looking at Christ not each other is the key of course, but when is the last time you saw Jesus, physically I mean, and how many people are just running to pick up the Bible and read it to discern the truth for themselves these days.  We rather read about vampires and other more interesting things, not that those are inherently bad or evil.  That leads to the importance of us as believers to live out in front of others the most correct interpretation of the Bible and Jesus that we can. 

So go ahead and let the fun begin and if you read anything you want to comment on please feel free to do so.  I’ll be glad to read your thoughts on the subject also.  I now consider myself “under fire.”  Anything I post is fair game.