"Why do you alone sit as judge, while all these people stand around you from morning till evening?" . . . "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. . . . Select capable men . . . and appoint them as officials." Ex. 18:14-21, NIV.
During the time that Moses was involved in the liberation of the Israelites from Egypt, he had left his wife and two sons with Jethro, his father-in-law. When Jethro heard that the Israelites were migrating near to where he lived, he took Zipporah and their boys back to Moses.
Soon Jethro noticed a problem. Moses didn't have any time for them—or for himself, for that matter. So Jethro spoke up and basically said that even though Moses was God's appointed leader of the children of Israel, that didn't mean he had to do everything himself. Read this fascinating story for yourself in Exodus 18.
For the first 40 years of his life Moses had been trained in the court of Egypt in matters of government and administration, so he had great ability in dealing with people. Now he had a divine mandate to educate and train God's people in loyalty to their Creator. A conscientious person, Moses felt a great sense of responsibility and urgency for those under his charge.
Jethro understood that Moses was unselfishly doing his best to fulfill his God-given commission. But he also recognized that Moses was in danger of burnout. Israel's leader was exerting himself in a most worthy cause, but that did not justify his being presumptuous in expecting the Lord's continued blessing.
So Jethro said to Moses, "Listen now to me and I will give you some advice, and may God be with you" (Ex. 18:19, NIV). He then outlined an administrative structure in which Moses would continue to be the people's representative to God, and God's representative to the people, but would also train others to administer groups of thousands, hundreds, fifties, and tens. "That will make your load lighter, because they will share it with you" (verse 22).
Then he said, "If you do this and God so commands, you will be able to stand the strain, and all these people will go home satisfied" (verse 23). And Moses too could go home at a decent time to his wife and children, who also needed him!Are you trying to do more than your share? Ask the Holy Spirit and your family how you could cut down before you burn out.
Used by permission of Health Ministries, North American Division of Seventh-day Adventists.