Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law, visits Moses after the battle with the Amalekites.
The next day, Moses took his seat to hear the people’s disputes against each other. They waited before him from morning till evening.
When Moses’ father-in-law saw all that Moses was doing for the people, he asked, “What are you really accomplishing here? Why are you trying to do all this alone while everyone stands around you from morning till evening?”
Moses replied, “Because the people come to me to get a ruling from God. When a dispute arises, they come to me, and I am the one who settles the case between the quarreling parties. I inform the people of God’s decrees and give them his instructions.”
“This is not good!” Moses’ father-in-law exclaimed. “You’re going to wear yourself out—and the people, too. This job is too heavy a burden for you to handle all by yourself. Now listen to me, and let me give you a word of advice, and may God be with you. You should continue to be the people’s representative before God, bringing their disputes to him. Teach them God’s decrees, and give them his instructions. Show them how to conduct their lives. But select from all the people some capable, honest men who fear God and hate bribes. Appoint them as leaders over groups of one thousand, one hundred, fifty, and ten. They should always be available to solve the people’s common disputes, but have them bring the major cases to you. Let the leaders decide the smaller matters themselves. They will help you carry the load, making the task easier for you. If you follow this advice, and if God commands you to do so, then you will be able to endure the pressures, and all these people will go home in peace.”
Moses listened to his father-in-law’s advice and followed his suggestions.
Moses was spending so much time and energy hearing the Hebrews’ complaints that he could not get to other important work. Jethro suggested that Moses delegate most of this work to others and focus his efforts on jobs only he could do. The process of delegation was organized, dividing the people into groups with “leaders” over them.
People in positions of responsibility sometimes feel they are the only ones who can do necessary tasks; but others are capable of handling part of the load. Delegation relieved Moses’ stress and improved the quality of the government. It helped prepare them for the system of government set up in Canaan. Proper delegation can multiply your effectiveness while giving others a chance to grow.
Moses not only decided the cases brought to him, he also taught the people God’s laws. Whenever we help others settle disputes or resolve conflicts, we should also look for opportunities to teach about God.
To whom can you delegate some of your workload? How can you support them in their responsibilities? Ask God to help you be wise about your positions of responsibility and alert to opportunities to teach others about him.