How not to wear yourself out as a leader

farm-554545_1280Exodus 18:18: You and the people with you will certainly wear yourselves out, for the thing is too heavy for you. You are not able to do it alone. (ESV)

Moses was wearing himself out attending to the untold thousands of the children of Israel who came to him to judge between one and another. It was a one-man show, it was a solo performance, and his father-in-law came to his rescue, coming with suggestions on how things can be done differently to enhance efficiency (Exodus 18). The main part of that idea is delegation. We know that Moses was the one to whom God appeared to but there are others who can be instructed in the ways of God to stand as supporting judges, and only the most serious issues should be brought to Moses.

The following are the saline truths for all leaders to imbibe so that they do not wear out.

  1. Teach the people

The number one thing that Jethro mentioned was the need to instruct the people in the ways of God. Teaching was number one role of a Leader. That affords the opportunity to cast vision in order to guide the people. With that, Moses will stop being a crisis manager, running from pillar to post. Teaching pre-empts the problems that may arise and how the people can live to ensure that many problematic issues do not arise.

Be a leader who anticipates problems before they emerge and does something about them. Let not counselling be the primary thing you do, let it be teaching, which should be on a continuous basis. We see Paul saying that he was repeating what the people had said already because it is good for them (Philippians 3:1). He wrote: rejoice in the lord always and again I say rejoice. He repeats his words for emphasis (Philippians 4:4).

In teaching the people they get to know what is expected from them, they are trained in the right way. If people do not know the direction we are going, it will be crisis after crisis. Without law there cannot be sin; without vision there is no restraint, without restraint it is error without limit.

Paul wrote about punishing every disobedience when our obedience is complete (2Corinthians 10:6). There can be no obedience if there is nothing to obey.

The first things we need to obey is the gospel, to become believers in Jesus (2Thessalonians 1:8). Your church should be populated by those with genuine salvation responding to the teaching that they should be born again.

The task Jesus gave the apostles while he was exiting the stage was to preach the gospel, not to counsel people in good behaviours, but to preach the gospel and that the believers should he taught all Jesus has taught them and that is no joke (Matthew 28:18-20).

In the book of Acts, they put that to work and the apostles went from house to house. The bible says that the people continued in the apostles’ teaching, prayer, etc. (Acts 2:42). They were constantly being trained in the way of God and prepared to face any challenges.

  1. Prayer must be priority, no fire brigade approach

Just as spiritual instruction is a priority, prayer should also be. While teaching takes care of the issues of the heart (issues within us), prayer takes care of the issues of the spirit (issues outside us).

Jesus, quoting the Old Testament said: my father’s house shall be called the house of prayer for all nations (Matthew 21:13). The church is meant to impact all nations, and the way he wants to do things is to ensure that everyone prays. He said we should pray so that we will not fall into temptation.

Prayer is spiritual preparation, it is to gain the vision of heaven to lead the people in the race on the earth. With prayer, we get resources from heaven.

Paul prayed for the church in Ephesus that the eyes of their understanding be enlightened (Ephesians 1:15-21). Paul might preach until he is blue in the face but without the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of God activated in the place of prayer, it will all be in futility.

He mentioned prayer right at the first chapter of that book. It holds priority and he mentioned it also in the last chapter. The first chapter prayer is about them, the last chapter about the devil.

And there is one in chapter three about having the love of God entrench in us. When that happens, we will cease having personality clashes; because then the people will love each other with all genuineness.

The point we are discussing here corresponds to the advice of Jethro that Moses take the matters of the people before God, the first one (teaching) is about bringing God’s matter to the people.

  1. Delegate, Delegate, Delegate

To delegate means to assign people to tasks. Moses was managing millions with their different needs, their individual uniqueness, and if he tried to go it alone he was going to wear himself out fast.

There was no questioning Moses’ passion for God, and for the people to get things right, but he needed help for the work.

There was a time that God took from the spirit on Moses and had scores of leaders in the camp. What Jethro was recommending was something systematic, for Moses to appoint different levels of leadership handling different spheres/levels of people-groups and hierarchy of leadership who have been trained for the task and then deployed.

Jethro was personally concerned that Moses was overburdening himself. Everyone else was viewing Moses as some superman, a special breed but Jethro, who was his father-in-law, saw him differently. He knew him for forty years and had a perspective on Moses that was different.

We need people with a full view of our humanity to hold us accountable to the need for balance in our daily regime. The children of Israel might not have talked until Moses crashed physically. But Jethro spoke from the angle of love and understanding.

Attending to everybody only swells the ego, and at the end of the day, the people and Moses will l be dissatisfied and frustrated.

Actually, 24hours in a day is not enough to truly deal with all the cases of the children of Israel. That is why there was the need for Moses to dedicate his time to building others. Paul told Timothy that rather than trying to do it alone, he would teach faithful men who will be able to teach others the things he learnt from Paul (2Timothy 2:2).


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