Are you familiar with Jethro? If not, take a moment to read our Old Testament story.
Moses has proven in previously that he is an effective leader. Oh, decidedly that. He is a great leader! He has led folks out of the land of Egypt, done all God says, helped enter a new phase of being fed with manna and quail, and brought water from the rock. Now people know he is wise and come to him to seek God’s will.
Jethro, Moses father-in-law, catches wind of this. He sees how Moses sits to serve as judge from morning till evening. And Moses is doing a good job. But Jethro wisely objects: “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. Find others to do most of this work.”
Isn’t this so often the case in your life?! Burdened with too much work, we need help.
There are principles of church growth that come into play with regard to church leadership. Sometimes churches plateau – they get stuck not growing – despite the excellent leadership of a pastor or great board of elders. A pastor can greatly add or subtract from the overall mission of the church to spread the good news.
It is often said that a pastor, in his/her first few years, will shrink or expand a church to fit the pastor’s own abilities. That means if I am a pastor who can only handle a 500 member congregation and I come to a church of 1000 members, I will quickly find subconscious ways to derail and shrink staff and programs until I am comfortable with the new structures. And I have seen this happen first hand. The inverse is also true. Pretty scary to think about huh?
This is happening to Moses today. Jethro takes a step back and says, “This job is too big.” Yeah, he was doing fine now, but what about burnout? What about cultivating leadership? What happens if you die tomorrow? Who is in a position to take up where you left off? It turns out the “excellent” leadership of Moses wasn’t quite as excellent.
I am sure there are aspects of your life that intersect with Moses or Jethro. Our culture is very anti-sabbath. It is almost a sin in American culture to think about taking a break. “And why would we train assistants to do our job? That would be corporate waste and take my personnel figures over budget! It would also make me vulnerable to being let go! I know, I will just work 70 hour work weeks, and forget about my own needs, my family, and my friends!”
If any of this sounds familiar, join the club! I hear these kinds of statements every week in my office – folks struggling with a balance of their personal, professional, and spiritual lives. And I am one of the worst offenders some days.
How difficult it can be to let go sometimes. But that is part of what it means to be Christian. If we are all in this ship together, it makes sense that very few things are “mine” and nearly everything is “ours.” It is one of the reasons I like corporate confessions and the Nicene Creed which uses “we” and not “I”. Christendom has never been an “I” society.
May we live this day in the “we”.