We've all tried it, though, haven't we? Especially those of us who are recovering Type A's. We're the ones who take point on the projects, not trusting that they will get finished if we don't steer the ship. Surely we've all had times when we take on the full load because we want to know that a job is done 100% correct. It seems necessary to be a part of every detail to ensure all the bases are covered.
In the midst of that project, another one crops up, and you think you can eek it out, too. Slowly but surely, you work longer hours, take fewer breaks. PTO - what's that? 12:00 appears twice in your waking hours. You forget (or don't make time) to eat. You cancel plans with the people you care about, making excuses for your "crazy-busy schedule."
Me? Guilty as charged.
And thankfully, I'm not alone. Apparently Moses was a bit of a work hoarder, too. In Exodus 18, we see that he's taken the reigns as judge over Israel. Completely qualified and with only good intentions, Moses serves the people "from morning till evening" (v. 13). All day, he listened to cases and made decisions. He heard testimonies and in his wisdom had to decide the outcome. The people came to him to seek God's will when they had a dispute. What a responsibility!
Finally, Moses' father-in-law stepped in and called his attention to the impact this schedule was having on his health and well-being. Join me in observing Jethro's wisdom:
"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 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; 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...But select capable men from all the people - men who fear God, trustworthy men who hate dishonest gain - and appoint them as officials...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" (v. 14-23).
A few points that stick out to me:
- It took an "outsider" who cared about Moses to see the stress he was experiencing and confront him about it (so often, we simply cannot see it ourselves, or if we do, we won't acknowledge it until confronted by someone we love)
- Jethro approached Moses with an admonition but also with a solution (he didn't just scold Moses for taking on too much)
- Jethro gently reproached Moses, but he left the response in God's hands (no matter how much they care, no one can make a person respond to reproach - only God can change a heart)
- The result of Moses delegating authority would be less strain for him and satisfaction for the people (it is not only for our benefit that we learn to share the load - it will benefit others, as well)
Recently, God blessed me richly with an opportunity at work to delegate a number of tasks to a new employee in a pseudo-manager work relationship. With a tendency to hold things closely, it took me awhile to feel comfortable delegating these tasks so that I could a) experience relief, and b) have the opportunity to pursue more strategic responsibilities.
The key here is that I had to trust this person. I don't believe God advocates for us to relinquish important things to untrustworthy people. In verse 21, Jethro commands Moses to "(...)select capable men from all the people - men who fear God, trustworthy men who hate dishonest gain(...)" After a period of vetting, I realized that this person could be trusted to take on the work and to ask the right questions if he was unsure of the answer.
God has granted me significant relief through the blessing of this new employee, not only at work, but in my personal life. He continues to teach me to slow down and enjoy time with Him and the people I love. I can't do it all. I don't WANT to do it all. We cannot succeed in isolation - we have to learn to depend on each other.
May I continue to learn how to share the load - both in releasing my hold on certain things and in taking on new things to help others.