Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Delegation: some good advice

judge scales So Moses listened to the voice of his father-in-law and did all that he had said. Moses chose able men out of all Israel and made them heads over the people, chiefs of thousands, of hundreds, of fifties, and of tens. And they judged the people at all times. Any hard case they brought to Moses, but any small matter they decided themselves.

Exodus 18:24-26

This may be the biggest miracle of the book of Exodus: a man took the counsel of his father-in-law! Reuel/Jethro saw that Moses was not in a good place as a leader. And he must have been an educated and astute man… he is called the “priest of Midian”, and we can deduce that he had interacted enough with leadership and people to advice Moses on the problem at hand.

And the problem was a big one. Thousands of people generate thousands of problems. And the people were lining up every day to Moses the leader to settle disputes. It was wearing him out and bogging down his leadership. Sometimes, leaders can get so caught up in the daily performance of dealing with people that they can’t even see where the details are keeping them from leading. But Jethro, as an outside consultant of sorts, could easily see the way this was hurting both the leader and the nation. So he proposed that Moses delegate the task of settling disputes to other qualified men who could mediate these issues. And an appeal system was instituted that still allowed the hardest disputes to make their way to Moses if needed.

Moses saw delegation as a “win/win”. He heeded Jethro’s proposal. And he instituted the judgeships necessary to make leadership effective. He administered as a leader rather than let himself get pulled down into the thousands of details of the lives of a nation in transition. This was a wise move that God honored. It sets an example of wise leadership today. And I take note of how God, in His wisdom, can use the insights of others to build more effective relationships and ministry.

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