Exodus 18 is very often used in leadership books written by Christian writers. Many have described it as the foundation of the US legal system (and other similar systems throughout history).
It simply is the idea of delegation, but it took someone giving Moses the idea before it ever became a reality. Jethro, who was the father-in-law of Moses, saw that Moses was attempting to take care of every dispute among the people, and he was making both the people and himself weary.
So Jethro had a simple but needed idea. Basically, he told Moses to only handle the biggest disputes and let trusted men handle smaller groups of people and their disputes. He ended his advice with these words:
So it will be easier for you, and they will bear the burden with you. If you do this, God will direct you, you will be able to endure, and all this people also will go to their place in peace. (Exodus 18:22b-23)
Jethro saw the problem. He gave an organized and practical solution. He even gave a good reminder at the end of why this would be a good idea.
But there was another step in this process that many of the leadership books forget, even though it’s found in the very next verse:
So Moses listened to the voice of his father-in-law and did all that he had said. (verse 24)
Have you ever thought about that one simple verse? What if Jethro had laid out this plan, but Moses decided to do his own thing, or just keep on keeping on the way things were?
One of the signs of a good leader is the ability to change gears, to listen to advice, and to seek new ways to handle old problems. But often, the leader is not the one who comes up with these ideas on his or her own.
So, in this case, the leader must also be the follower!
While Moses was weary and overwhelmed with handling all these disputes, he was still the leader. He could have had the mindset of “my way or the highway.” He could have doubled down and thought, “I’ll show that old man that I can handle this!”
Instead, Moses listened, saw a reasonable and practical opportunity, and became the follower for a moment, which made him a far more effective leader.
Parents, elders, business leaders, teachers…all leaders. Are you listening to good advice? Are you willing to become the follower for a few moments if it means helping to solve a problem?
You may just see amazing results if you will.
AUTHOR: Adam Faughn