A letter to a reluctant leader IN THE CHURCH AND THE ROLE OF JETHRO’S MINISTRY IN LEADERSHIP TODAY. “Exodus18:1-27”
Jethro is an example of a wise and seasoned leader. He is an impartial observer who is willing to share his knowledge, understanding, and wisdom with Moses. Moses is still in the first stages of his career as the leader of the Jewish people. He is a reluctant leader who ascended to his position only at God’s insistence. Moses is humble: His ego does not get in the way. He is an excellent example of a leader who is able to listen to and learn from others. One of his great strengths is that he listens carefully to Jethro’s wise advice and does not hesitate to integrate and incorporate that advice into the manner in which he leads.
There was a certain priest and was the high priest in Midian, this is where Moses was and escaped after several threats from Egyptians and Pharaoh to kill Moses when he had killed one of the Egyptians.
Moses then went and lived in the land of the Midians at family of one Priest Called Jethro, good enough Moses married one of his daughters called Zipporah and bore Sons. When time had come for Moses to start the Ministry at the burning Bush, God approached him in the flames of fire and gave me a task to deliver the Israelites from the hand of Pharaoh from being slaves and the literal story goes and goes.
We know what God did through Moses in the History of the Bible. Of course he delivered the fellow Israelites as God had directed him with many signs and wonders that were made in Egypt. Now that’s not what have come to talk about today, there is something else that happened when Moses and the Israelites had come out of Egypt. They settled in the wilderness where they needed another direction from God on what to do next, Moses was a young leader in the ministry despite his age, he kept the Israelites in the deserts by simply judging them and solving the disputes the whole day and this happened for many days until his Father in law Jethro came in to see what the Lord God had done with Moses and his Ministry .Jethro’s visit was really a blessing to Moses and to the church today if we take up the corrections from what had been directed by Jethro to Moses it will yield much in the church today.
We are going to record the entire chapter of this Story so that we can learn as leaders of today, Christians and how can improve our ministries in serving and avoid trivial things that could hinder our ministries, read through chapter very well in order to understand the role of Jethro’s Ministry in the life of Moses and its relevance to the church today and leadership in Authority. The leaders in the church must take caution and learn from this chapter in order to serve God well and his people, also Christians need to learn from this chapter in order to be good leaders in the future, if not we shall see shadow again in the ministries and we will spend much time in the wilderness yet God wants us to be in other levels of ministering to him and direct the church in the right way.
Jethro Visits Moses( Exodus18:1-27)
1Now Jethro, the priest of Midian and father-in-law of Moses, heard of everything God had done for Moses and for his people Israel, and how the Lord had brought Israel out of Egypt.
2After Moses had sent away his wife Zipporah, his father-in-law Jethro received her 3and her two sons. One son was named Gershom,a for Moses said, “I have become a foreigner in a foreign land”; 4and the other was named Eliezer,b for he said, “My father’s God was my helper; he saved me from the sword of Pharaoh.”
5Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law, together with Moses’ sons and wife, came to him in the wilderness, where he was camped near the mountain of God. 6Jethro had sent word to him, “I, your father-in-law Jethro, am coming to you with your wife and her two sons.”
7So Moses went out to meet his father-in-law and bowed down and kissed him. They greeted each other and then went into the tent. 8Moses told his father-in-law about everything the Lord had done to Pharaoh and the Egyptians for Israel’s sake and about all the hardships they had met along the way and how the Lord had saved them.
9Jethro was delighted to hear about all the good things the Lord had done for Israel in rescuing them from the hand of the Egyptians. 10He said, “Praise be to the Lord, who rescued you from the hand of the Egyptians and of Pharaoh, and who rescued the people from the hand of the Egyptians. 11Now I know that the Lord is greater than all other gods, for he did this to those who had treated Israel arrogantly.” 12Then Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law, brought a burnt offering and other sacrifices to God, and Aaron came with all the elders of Israel to eat a meal with Moses’ father-in-law in the presence of God.
13The next day Moses took his seat to serve as judge for the people, and they stood around him from morning till evening. 14When his father-in-law saw all that Moses was doing for the people, he said, “What is this you are doing for the people? Why do you alone sit as judge, while all these people stand around you from morning till evening?”
15Moses answered him, “Because the people come to me to seek God’s will. 16Whenever they have a dispute, it is brought to me, and I decide between the parties and inform them of God’s decrees and instructions.”
Moses’ father-in-law replied, “What you are doing is not good. 18You and these people who come to you will only wear yourselves out. The work is too heavy for you; you cannot handle it alone. 19Listen now to me and I will give you some advice, and may God be with you. You must be the people’s representative before God and bring their disputes to him. 20Teach them his decrees and instructions, and show them the way they are to live and how they are to behave. 21But select capable men from all the people—men who fear God, trustworthy men who hate dishonest gain—and appoint them as officials over thousands, hundreds, fifties and tens. 22Have them serve as judges for the people at all times, but have them bring every difficult case to you; the simple cases they can decide themselves. That will make your load lighter, because they will share it with you. 23If you do this and God so commands, you will be able to stand the strain, and all these people will go home satisfied.”
Moses listened to his father-in-law and did everything he said. He chose capable men from all Israel and made them leaders of the people, officials over thousands, hundreds, fifties and tens. They served as judges for the people at all times. The difficult cases they brought to Moses, but the simple ones they decided themselves.
Then Moses sent his father-in-law on his way, and Jethro returned to his own country. Exodus18:1-27
The story of Jethro is a story that begins much earlier than Exodus 18—in fact, Moses’s relationship with Jethro began all the way back in Exodus 2, when Moses met and married Jethro’s daughter Zipporah (Ex. 2:18, 21; in Exodus 2, Jethro goes by the name “Reuel”). Moses worked for Jethro, caring for his father-in-law’s flocks, until God sent Moses to Egypt to set Israel free from their bondage to Pharaoh.
From what we read here in Exodus 18, it seems that Moses and Jethro must have had several conversations about God. Jethro was not ignorant about spiritual matters, being “the” priest of Midian (Ex. 18:1)—a suggestion that Jethro was actually the high priest of Midian—but it isn’t until this passage when Jethro finally comes to faith in Yahweh:
Jethro said, “Blessed be your God, who has delivered you out of the hand of the Egyptians and out of the hand of Pharaoh and has delivered the people from under the hand of the Egyptians. Now I know that Your God is greater than all gods, because in this affair they dealt arrogantly with the people.” (Ex. 18:10–11).
We get the impression that Moses must have told Jethro about God—and all that God had called Moses to do—but that the Midianite priest must have been skeptical. So, what made the difference for Jethro? Why does he believe now?
Because God had objectively defeated the Egyptians and their gods to redeem Israel out of their bondage.
Jethro must have heard stories from travelers about all that God had done to break the back of mighty Egypt, and even Eliezer, Jethro’s grandson, had a name that meant “God is my help,” since Moses had said, “The God of my father was my help, and delivered me from the sword of Pharaoh” (Ex. 18:4).
What’s so important to see here is that Jethro, the high priest of Midian, converts not because of a warm feeling, or because he thinks that God worship is beautiful, or because he feels that the worshipers of God were nicer or better in some way than other worshipers. He converts to worshiping God because of what God had done.
This is so important. The gospel isn’t about how our lives have improved or how much happier we are or even about anything regarding us at all. The gospel is about God and what God has objectively done in history.
In history, God actually redeemed and rescued his people Israel out of Egypt, and in history, God actually sent his Son into this world to take on human nature, suffer, die on a cross for our sins, rise from the dead, and ascend to reign with him at his right hand. These are true, objective facts, and if they were not true, then all the good feelings in the world couldn’t redeem our religion.
The gospel is about what God has done for his people through his Son Jesus Christ, of which the exodus out of Egypt was merely an early foreshadowing.
But this story of Jethro in Exodus 18 teaches us not only what we ought to look back to (the work of God in the world), but also what we ought to look forward to from this story. The gospel according to Jethro teaches us that God’s gospel is about someone greater than Moses.
From Exodus 18:1-27 we can extrapolate an outline of a training manual for leadership development, which we can use in all aspects of our lives: personal, religious, political, and professional. Jethro’s behavior and actions show us that the following are crucial traits for a great leader:
The Jethro Movement to the wilderness to find Moses was another great time that Israel had to realize change in leadership during Moses’ time. Without Jethro movement, Moses could have messed up everything with the authority and indeed he was overburdened with the work simply he lacked insight, wisdom and knowledge in the ministry of that kind of caliber despite his anointing. Moses spent a lot time judging people and he thought he was doing well in the ministry and well knew that he was serving God and his people well. Nevertheless Jethro took away the towel to reveal the weakness someone could have in the ministry especially the Leadership in the church.
In most cases a minister of the Lord Jesus Christ may have the anointing and the gifting may be very well present but wisdom is cultivated over time as he goes on to experience more and more in the things of God. You could have the gift in you but you need wisdom of how the gift may be fruitful and how you can apply it in the ministry of Christ Jesus, sometimes you may be enjoying your gifting but still in the wrong way just like Moses in the wilderness, had not been the ministry of Jethro in the Life of Moses, Moses could have wasted a lot of time in the wilderness and this sabotages the work of God to expand and grow.
However, Moses in his early stages of his ministry had authority and power though he did not know to exercise all he had simply he had no mentor and with lack of proper guidance until Jethro came, God could have kept silent on it simply to allow Moses grow in the Ministry through Experiences, God does that in most cases to help his ministers grow and mature quickly, when he brings other people to give us guidance he wants to show us that he knows more than us, what we think we are doing right is wrong before him and that humbles us down to serve him better. Inspite of all what happened in the wilderness Moses remained humble and it’s one of the gifts I have not seen much in the leadership today, the gift of meekness is needed much because without you could miss out the voice of God and fail his instructions for his people.
The following are the lessons we can learn from the ministry of Jethro in relation to the church leadership today in the lives of the Christians.
- The scriptures reveal that when come to church we should be observant in order to help the church and eliminate errors made by the leadership by giving constructive correction, or any case pray that the leadership may lead well, we are not just coming to church to expect from God. This is was in Jethro, he did not just end at feasting with the elders in the presence of God but he was able to discern that something was wrong in the ministry of Moses, his advice to Moses was very important and this helps the ministry realize its potential and grow in the Knowledge. He gave a good correction to Moses because he was discerning. Exodus18; 9-23.
- We must to minister in wisdom, if we do not then we shall waste a lot of time in trivial matters that cannot build and edify the body of Christ Jesus. This will delay the work of God just like Moses was, despite his great anointing Moses was immature in the ministry and lacked wisdom to serve God and his people, Moses was judging every dispute which took a lot of time and there was no time for the word of God, in relation today God wants his people to know him through his word and being taught his commandments but pastors are simply demonstrating counterfeit miracles and waste a lot of time in them, Christians remain in the wilderness muddled and they do not know what to do next, every Sunday is the same; Moses wasted more time in judgment yet God wanted his people to know him through Moses, at times we delay the growth of others because of our lack of wisdom to help others in serving them. We mis interpret what God wants and end up doing our own things. Jethro exercises correct way of how authority move in the church in wisdom application and Pastors should lead the church, Is it Miracles or teach the people the word of God and his commandments and miracles will happen in their lives. Exodus18:13-20
- Moses also gives a correct response to advice and how Leaders should behave when approached for correction in case of errors or mess in their ministries. When Moses welcomed his father’s in law he did not only him at the Fatherly level but also at the Ministry level, his advice saved Moses much plus the Israelites, Moses did not become adamant to make changes in the way he was ministering and serving God. This warns the current leaders in authority should be careful in handling other people’s ministries. We should always be ready to accept advice as leaders of the church in authority. Exodus18; 1-12.
- Accepting new leadership style; Moses was willing to accept another leadership style, he was the only one who knew about God and the rest were learning from him and that one man band Pastor in the church is very wrong, God wants to work through many people not only the Pastor, the body of Christ Jesus is of many members and therefore the leadership should have many members to contribute to the body of Christ Jesus, in this cases Moses in that category but after the advice from Jethro, Moses changed the leadership style, in the first instance everything was rotating around him which very dangerous for the ministry. He was not reluctant to accept the leadership because God was planning to make Israel a “State” and therefore he needed many ranks under Moses yet Moses had not realized that. Pastors should take the way of Moses to accept new leadership that Jesus Christ offers to the church, in order to allow ministers of God move in ranks to bring the Glory of God in the church. The modern church Pastors are opposing that, they only handle everything by themselves and never allow the ordinary Christians to advance in their ministry and that is very wrong. It’s not the way of God. Exodus18;24-26
- As a church today we should care and show concern for the wellbeing of others and this makes authority relevant just like Moses and Jethro demonstrated; Exodus18:7, caring for the fellow Christians is part of the Jesus Christ commands. Love your neighbor as you love yourself.
- As Christians we should celebrate the accomplishments of other ministries especially when they reach climax and share the joy with them, celebrate victories with them, progress with them and also share the goodness of others people lives. Exodus18;9-12, Jethro was willing to celebrate with the children of Israel alongside Moses for the great victory over Egyptians and Pharaoh in the great Red Sea. Today people only feel Jealousy and never wish people well in their ministries they want only to be the ones progressing and others are retarded, please take this example of Jethro.
- We should offer constructive criticism to fellow Christians in such a way that can be understood, that happens when we minister in love, if they error we correct them in a constructive way that can bring back their Ministries. Other Christians will be motivated to love Christ Jesus rather than pushing them away. Exodus18; 13-23. Jethro offered a constructive criticism that helped Moses realize his mistake. Jethro was shocked the way Moses was serving God and the children of Israel but he never stopped at criticism. He offered advice on the way forward.
- It also reveals that as Christians we need discernment and maturity, wisdom that is profound in the church in order to understand how the church of God should run, imagine all Israelites were following but none had realized retardation in the ministry until Jethro was revealed. When Jethro came in, he identified that actually Moses was not doing rightly the work of God, yet the Israelites had been with him all this while, nevertheless they were so blind, may be Moses could have mis represented God ministry at that time and thought Moses was the only to know God, you and me will have these questions. Jethro brings another challenge in the church, it shows that if Christians get know only wrong things from the very first stage, they will keep blind and will never see their leader is wrong in the ministry and no one will offer him advise since they see nothing wrong, at that time the church will be crippled. Exodus18; 17-20.
- The scriptures also reveal that someone greater than Moses was at work, Moses ministry was a shadow to what would be revealed in the future. Jethro corrected Moses to show him that he had taken a seat of Jesus Christ, he was not supposed to be the Judge to the people, and his work was simply to exercise authority in the right way. He was overshadowing others in Christ, so Jesus was not well magnified. Exodus18:13.
- It also teaches us that leaders must be willing to share the mantle of leadership just like Moses was advised. However Moses was given proper directions when sharing mantle the kind of qualities he should look for;
- Capability of the person in question
- Believers of God who fear him
- Ethical principled
- Godly and wise in service. Exodus18;21-22, this is how the church should operate in choosing leaders, they must be proven and be tested whether they qualify with the above qualities and this will take most burden of the church leader or any leader in any nation, this scripture applies to all states of life of leadership;
- As Christians or leaders, we must accept open criticism especially that is constructive from the wise men and women of the church that God has placed there, this will help us strengthen our weakness and grow in the knowledge of Our Lord Jesus Christ. Moses accepted this open criticism and it saved him a lot in his ministry. The church needs more of Jethro’s in the ministry to shape up the church vision, the Vision of Moses could have been narrow, he was only seeing Judgment, but Jethro was seeing Israel as a big state, this criticism could have helped Moses realize that God had a bigger plan than what he had expected. Exodus18:24-26.
- It also reveals that we should empower leadership and encourage growth in others by sharing responsibilities just like Moses was instructed to do. Exodus18; 13-23. This will help the church or a nation to raise greater leaders for the Glory of God.
- We should never hesitate to implement change where it is necessary and when it is necessary, just like Moses, Moses accepted change which opened the new gate of leadership in Israel and it helped Moses remain with a few burdens to carry, at first Moses was overwhelmed. Exodus18;24-26
- We should humble in serving others just like Moses was, he never resisted advice from Jethro.
- Proper acknowledgement of God’s Testimony of what he has done is very important in the church today. Jethro was able to testify for God what he had done for Israelites. Exodus18:9-11. He even offered sacrifice as part of thanks giving and he feasted with the elders of the church to demonstrate his joy, I think the church can copy the type of thanks giving from Jethro. And God will do more things for the church and in our lives.
- We should learn how to serve one another amidst conflict and accept others people’s weakness and shape them up. When at conflict we should demonstrate love in doing so we show Jesus Christ in us, that he is loving and also cares for those with weaknesses and wants to help them achieve in life.
So, we have so far situated the story of Exodus 18 properly in its context—looking back at the redemption of Israel out of Egypt, and looking forward to the coming of Jesus into the world. But we would be remiss if we didn’t acknowledge the profound wisdom that Jethro offers Moses.
Moses had been judging every dispute in the entire nation of Israel himself, so that he was spending entire days doing nothing but resolving conflict in Israel (Ex. 18:13–14). When Jethro saw this, he was shocked, concerned that Moses would wear himself and the people of Israel out if he continued to work at that pace.
Instead, Jethro suggested that Moses share the mantle of leadership with godly, wise men in Israel. He gave specific instructions about the caliber of person Moses should choose (“able men…men who fear God, who are trustworthy and hate a bribe,” Ex. 18:21), but he suggested that Moses should employ those men over appropriate numbers of people to hear their cases, with harder cases working their way up the chain until only the most difficult cases actually came before Moses. In this way, the people could get justice without burdening Moses every single time a dispute arose.
This is almost exactly what Jesus advises us to do if someone sins against us in Matthew 18:
“If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. But if does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector. Truly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” (Matt. 18:15–18)
The principle is that you don’t go straight to the top with every dispute you have. In a church context, you wouldn’t go straight to the pastor or straight to the elders or straight to the whole congregation if someone sins against you. Instead, you should confront the person yourself, and if that doesn’t work, slowly incorporate more people in the decision until the dispute is resolved.
Paul makes a related point in 1 Corinthians 6, when he is shocked to hear that the Corinthian church has become litigious, suing each other in public courts. He says:
When one of you has a grievance against another, does he dare go to law before the unrighteous instead of the saints? Or do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if the world is to be judged by you, are you incompetent to try trivial cases? Do you not know that we are to judge angels? How much more, then, matters pertaining to this life! So if you have such cases, why do you lay them before those who have no standing in the church? I say this to your shame. Can it be that there is no one among you wise enough to settle a dispute between the brothers, but brother goes to law against brother, and that before unbelievers? To have lawsuits at all with one another is already a defeat for you. Why not rather suffer wrong? Why not rather be defrauded? But you yourselves wrong and defraud—even your own brothers! (1 Cor. 6:1–8)
Paul is urging us to try our cases within the church by consulting someone “among you wise enough to settle a dispute” rather than dragging each other before the unrighteous courts of the world, spoiling our witness and making a mockery of the gospel.
In conclusion, the modern church has many things to amend in order to be in the right line of God, with the current Pastors doing everything just like Moses in the wilderness? No that one man band is never in the Kingdom of God and will never part of God’s Kingdom, God wants us to learn from Jethro and Moses Literal conversation, story and amend accordingly.
This goes to the church leaders who are seating on the gifting of the church in others, you should change and accept others to minister, you are not are the only prophet of the church nor are you the only Teacher of the word that God has called in the church, let the flock grow in serving Jesus Christ.
And finally brethren, do not be like the Israelites who lacked discernment and spent much time in trivial matters with Moses instead of Growing in the word of God and have knowledge of Jesus Christ, they were blind. Awaken and be watchful otherwise you might be blind forever.
Be blessed brethren, see that I have warned you beforehand that your ministries may not be hindered, Peace be with you, grace be multiplied to you the elect of God the Father and the blessing of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.
I remain Asher Namanya, the fellow laborer in Christ Jesus and the Bondservant of the Living God and the Lord Jesus Christ, may the Holy Spirit be outpoured in you to understand and grow in the knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ.