Wednesday, July 23, 2008

A Good Leader Knows When To Follow

When his father-in-law saw all that Moses was doing for the people, he said, "What is this you are doing for the people? Why do you alone sit as judge, while all these people stand around you from morning till evening?" Moses answered him, "Because the people come to me to seek God's will. Whenever they have a dispute, it is brought to me, and I decide between the parties and inform them of God's decrees and laws." Moses' father-in-law replied, "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. Listen now to me and I will give you some advice, and may God be with you. You must be the people's representative before God and bring their disputes to him. Teach them the decrees and laws, and show them the way to live and the duties they are to perform. But select capable men from all the people—men who fear God, trustworthy men who hate dishonest gain—and appoint them as officials over thousands, hundreds, fifties and tens. Have them serve as judges for the people at all times, but have them bring every difficult case to you; the simple cases they can decide themselves. That will make your load lighter, because they will share it with you. If you do this and God so commands, you will be able to stand the strain, and all these people will go home satisfied." Moses listened to his father-in-law and did everything he said. (Exodus 18:14-24 NIV)

I realize that today's scripture selection is a bit lengthy but if you are willing to relax and bear with me for a few minutes, you'll understand why I chose so much text today. Moses was one of the greatest leaders of all times. Yet here, we find that he has a dilemma. It's isn't as easy for him to lead as you or I may have thought it would be even though we know that the Lord was with Him. Often times we make the mistake of believing that our leaders lead us effortlessly and that it has no effect on their personal life or morale. We don't always get to see what goes on behind the scenes. But here God offers us a glimpse of what true leadership is all about.

Jethro, Moses' father in-law enters the scene and immediately he is able to identify the problem. You see, sometimes we can't see the problem because we are so immersed in it. But God will send someone else alone to bring it to our attention. Moses is overwhelmed. At this point in time Moses had not yet learned to delegate responsibilities. As a result, he is spreading himself too thin and is miserable.

Can you recall times in your life when you failed to delegate and suffered as a result of it? Did you or do you feel like you need to handle everything or it won't be right? It's nothing to be ashamed of. It's just a reminder to us that we have only gone as far as we have trained our successor to go. We will not be here forever. We don't want what God gave us to die when we die. So we have to raise up others and not be intimidated by new talent. Leaders should want our sucessors to be better than we were.

Moses didn't get offended when his father in law brought his problem to his attention. Also notice that Jethro didn't come to him in a subordinate manner either. He didn't question the leader God placed over him or exalt himself just because he was able to see something that Moses wasn't able to see. Instead he spoke his piece and then told Moses "God be with you". Ultimately, Jethro knew that God's will would be done and didn't want his advice to overshadow God's will.

Moses didn't respond arrogantly. He could have said "Do you know who I am? I am the chosen one". Instead he listened. A good leader has the qualities of God and is quick to listen and slow to speak.This does not mean that he had to accept everything and anything that anyone said to him but he took the time to analyze what was said. Obviously what Jethro said lined up to the vision that God had already given him. People will come to us and offer us all sorts of advice but if what they say or suggest is not on the way to where God is taking you it is just in the way and a distraction.

Jethro told Moses to gather the elders and let them judge over the small matters and bring the bigger ones to him to decide. We can't sweat the small stuff. Nor can we micromanage. An effective leader leads other leaders and knows when to be led. Jethro explained to Moses that once he learned to delegate down that he would have more time to hear from God and deal with some other areas of his life. Moses was a married man with children too. God would not have us to abandon or neglect our natural families.

As I said earlier, I know I can be hard on the leaders at times but it's only because they are leaders for a reason. God does not allow anything to happen just to happen. If you are a leader it is because God allowed it to be so. I believe that we are to all walk worthy of the vocation to which we were called. We are all leaders in one way or another in our lives. Whether you are the devotion leader, a parent, the oldest sibling, a minister or a supervisor we all have people looking up to us just waiting to follow our lead. Let us not become so high minded that we can't listen to anyone. What would have happened had Moses continued on the route he was going, not listened to his father in-law and burned himself out? How much good would he had been to the Children of Israel or his own family? So let's learn from Moses' example and know when to follow as a leader. And by all means, we should ultimately be led by God. We are to follow our leaders as they follow Christ.

Shanita Waters, CEO
Author of By His Stripes We Are Healed
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GOD'S LADIE said...

AAAAA...Men! I am a supervisor and I am guilty of sometimes not delegating enough. I don't want to be the micro manager or high minded supervisor I have once had. I guess I do feel sometimes that only I can do some things "right". Thanks for the eye-opening post. I love the message.

Have a blessed weekend!

Shanita Waters said...

@ God's Ladie - I am so glad that I could be of service to you. I am guilty of the same thing. I'm learning more and more everyday that sometimees we just have to let go and let God.


Patricia W. said...

Hi Shanita! Thanks for stopping by my blog.

I like what you're doing here, encouraging folks thru God's word and a transparency about your spiritual journey.

Be blessed.

Alexander Tiedemann said...

Oh, all leaders will face that kind of dilemma. That's a lesson learned from Moses: we should also listen to our followers. Well, your post proves that there are really new lessons to be learned when you read the Bible. Cheers!