Let us now study Jethro’s instructions in more detail.
A. FIVE INSTRUCTIONS GIVEN TO MOSES
STAND BEFORE GOD FOR THE PEOPLE (Ex 18:19)
“Stand before God for the people, so that you may bring the difficulties to God” (Ex 18:19).
Moses was spending most of his time “sitting before the people” (vs. 13-16), trying to solve their problems for them. This represents a temptation all leaders will face.
It is flattering when people look up to you as a leader and ask for your help. You may have some understanding of God’s Word and ways, so people want your input or counsel. That is acceptable, but only in a limited way.
This is NOT acceptable when you as a leader find yourself feeling responsible – even obligated – to solve everyone’s problems. This serious mistake can cause people to depend upon you, instead of maturing and learning to go to God for themselves.
Moses was following the Eastern custom of rulers who would sit at the gates (places of authority) to dispense justice to their subjects. Moses had good intentions. But he could never meet the demands or solve the problems of millions of people by himself!
Jethro recognized that Moses was spending too much time trying to solve the problems of the people and not enough time going to God for the people. He told Moses, “The thing that you do is not good. Both you and these people who are with you will surely wear yourselves out. For this thing is too much for you; you are not able to perform it by yourself” (vs. 17,18).
Jethro offered several solutions to this challenge. But they required Moses to change the way he was spending his time.
Jethro first instructed Moses to “stand before God for the people” (v.19). Moses did not need to listen to and solve everyone’s problems. Moses’ first responsibility was to pray for the people! Moses was to come before God and lift the difficulties of the people to the Lord in prayer.
Coming to God first with the needs of the people:
- relieved Moses of the tremendous burden of trying to solve so many needs (read Psalms 37:5-7; 55:22; Proverbs 3:5,6; 16:3; 1Peter 5:7).
- invited God to move on behalf of His people and their needs.
- allowed Moses the time to hear from God about what he should do to properly lead the people.
The first responsibility of a church leader is to pray for the people God gives him! (1Sam 12:23; Rom 1:9; Col 1:9). Then he must take time to listen to what God tells him to do – and then do it!
Moses learned this lesson, and his intercessions for the people became very important (Exo 32:30-34).
DISCIPLING, NOT PROBLEM-SOLVING
In the Old Testament, God’s appointed leaders acted as mediators between God and the people, telling them what God expected of them. The leader stood before God on behalf of the people.
However, Jesus is the final Mediator between God and mankind (1Tim 2:5,6). His sacrifice and forgiveness for the sins of mankind make it possible for every repentant person to be restored to God. Every believer in Jesus Christ can now have his/her own direct relationship with God!