When leaders let go… everyone wins…

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Exodus 18:13 The next day Moses sat as judge for the people, while the people stood around him from morning until evening. 14 When Moses’ father-in-law saw all that he was doing for the people, he said, “What is this that you are doing for the people? Why do you sit alone, while all the people stand around you from morning until evening?” 15 Moses said to his father-in-law, “Because the people come to me to inquire of God. 16 When they have a dispute, they come to me and I decide between one person and another, and I make known to them the statutes and instructions of God.” 17 Moses’ father-in-law said to him, “What you are doing is not good. 18 You will surely wear yourself out, both you and these people with you. For the task is too heavy for you; you cannot do it alone.

Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law, saw what was going on – and it wasn’t good. When you think about hundreds of thousands of people going to one person for justice, you can imagine what a stressful bottleneck that would be for Moses and for the people. So Jethro gave Moses some good advice. Share the load. How did this situation happen in the first place? I think v.15 offers some insight:

“… the people come to me to inquire of God.”

To be fair, Moses had been the sole spokesperson for God for some time so it would have been logical to think that’s the way it should continue. It took an outsider, Jethro, to see the problem and the solution. It was too big a job for one man, but leadership could be shared. Others could be entrusted to exercise judgment and offer wise counsel to those needing it.

For everyone’s sake, Moses needed to let go of some control.

In the many years I’ve been consulting, coaching, and supporting other church leaders I can honestly say this is one of the most common inhibitors to church health and growth. I’m referring to pastors who feel the need to do too much by themselves, who resist sharing leadership with others. I’m not just talking about other people, I’m talking about myself as well. I understand the impulse, I really do.

So over the years I’ve made a real effort to share leadership. It was hard at first, but has gotten easier, mostly because I see the fruit of it. When I get out of the way others are free to offer their gifts to God in new ways and I am freed to focus on the few things I am uniquely qualified to do. Everyone wins.

Lord help those of us who are leaders let go of things others can do, and give us faith to trust you in the process. I pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen.

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