Exodus 18:13 & 17-18
The next day Moses sat to judge the people, and the people stood around Moses from morning till evening. … Moses’ father-in-law said to him, “What you are doing is not good. You and the people with you will certainly wear yourselves out, for the thing is too heavy for you. You are not able to do it alone.”
In an ethical sense, Moses is doing a wonderful thing here. In fact, I can’t think of a nobler way for a good shepherd to treat his flock than to watch over them from sunup to sundown. Didn’t our very Lord forego eating and sleeping in order to minister to the long lines of people who constantly wanted His attention? It’s good that Moses is down here in the thick of the action. He isn’t like those cult leaders who live in mansions while their followers live in tents, or like those celebrities who pamper themselves in VIP lounges and only address the fans who pay a premium to meet them. He’s among the crowd, at the same level with the poorest of the poor, listening to their complaints—many of which they’re airing at him—and doing it day after day.
No question Moses’ heart is in the right place here, but he’s too weak and temperamental to bear the burdens of the people on his shoulders. So Jethro’s intervention is succinctly timed by God. Jethro knows the difficulty of leadership too; he’s devoted his own life to priestly service; he’s able to understand the people’s need for arbitration and godly direction, while also understanding Moses’ need for physical and psychological rest. Thus, he finds a solution that works best for both Moses and the people, just as a wise counselor should do.
Friend, I hope you’ve got a friend like Jethro in your life who loves you enough to not always pat you on the back and say things like, “Good for it!—You’ve got this!—You’re the man for the job!”, but who knows when to put a firm hand on your shoulder and speak the truth in love, “You need help! You can’t do this alone!” Today, thank that Jethro in your life who reached out to you at just the right time, and then go out and be a Jethro to someone else.