The Jethro Principle

This is a VERY practical story, EARLY in the community life of the recently freed Israelite nation. Do you recall the occasion in Exodus 18 when Moses’ father-in-law, Jethro, paid him a visit and found Moses hard at work? He certainly couldn’t accuse his son-in-law of laziness. He was busy, busy, busy! (Does that sound familiar in your life?) Moses was attempting to “be there” for everybody. He was on call for any and all occasions.

But, since Moses was working from morning until evening (Exodus 18:13) Jethro warned him that what he was doing was NOT good (Exodus 18:14, 17). In time, he was only going to wear himself out. Perhaps he was speaking from personal experience, but in any case, Jethro realized that as leaders grow weary, they risk burnout. Inevitably, we lose the joy of service we once knew.

Jethro’s advice to Moses represents what is known as the Jethro Principle for leaders. That is, no leader is called or gifted to do everything. It’s the wise leader who understands their limits.

The wise leader will ask the question, “What are the two or three things I do that are most valuable to the Kingdom and my church?” Then delegate the rest. The result is we will work out of our strengths while delegating our weaknesses to those whose strength is in that area. I’m not saying I have all this figured out, but it is a worthy goal of all leaders to listen to the wisdom of Jethro.

If you are NOT the leader, how are you stepping up to take the burden off of your church staff or other leadership? (Exodus 18:24-26)

Just because you’re busy doesn’t mean you’re productive or effective. I can look at my busy calendar and at the end of the day still wonder what I did for the kingdom. I want to do things that will yield an eternal investment, not just stay busy. The real return on our life’s investment is realized when we work through our God-given strengths. May each of us find our strengths and allow God to work through us.

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