‘What is this thing that you are doing to the people? Why do you act alone, while all the people stand about you from morning until evening?’ Moses replied to his father-in-law, ‘It is because the people come to me to inquire of God. When they have a dispute, it comes before me, and I decide between one person and another, and I make known the laws and teachings of God.’ But Moses’ father-in-law said to him, ‘The thing you are doing is not right; you will surely wear yourself out, and these people as well. For the task is too heavy for you; you cannot do it alone.’
Wow! I’m sure that for the pastors reading this there will be no question why this caught my attention as I read this morning. We as a whole tend to have “lone ranger” tendencies. At times it seems like we take great pride in what we have accomplished all by ourselves. Lifting up examples of great “lone rangers” we fail to provide a different model for leadership in the faith community. Moses father-in-law was a wise man. He recognized human limitations and the unhealthy patterns that Moses was perpetuating. In the end this way of leading was not good for him nor for the people he cared so deeply for. The answer to this dilemma was in front of him, the people themselves could be empowered to lead each other.
‘You represent the people before God; you bring the disputes before God, and enjoin upon them the laws and the teachings, and make known to them the way they are to go and the
practices they are to follow. You shall also seek our from among all the people cabable men who fear God, trustworthy men who spurn ill-gotten gain. Set these over them as chiefs of thousands,
hundreds, fifties, and tens, and let them judge the people at all times. Have them bring every major dispute to you, but let them decide every minor dispute themselves. Make it easier for yourself by letting them share the burden with you. If you do this — and God so commands you — you will be able to bear up; and all these people too will go home unwearied.’
I know that none of us are leading communities in the wilderness trying to reach a promised land. We are leading faith communities to be about God’s kingdom in the midst of life. What would it look like to adopt a more collegial and communal approach to leadership? What if we shared the burden of the people with others? What if we visioned, ordered, and led in leadership groups?