Supreme Court Justice
So Moses listened to the voice of his father-in-law and did all that he said. Moses chose able men out of all Israel and made them heads over people, chiefs of thousands, of hundreds, of fifties, and of tens. And they judged the people at all times. Any hard case they brought to Moses, but any small matter they decided themselves.
A lesser man would’ve sat in Moses’ judicial seat day after day, clocked in long hours wielding the gavel, and become addicted to the sight of that long line of people seeking him alone for guidance. A lesser man would’ve responded to Jethro’s ‘advice’ in a bombastic retort—“Oh priest of Midian, does your staff turn rivers to blood and part seas? Has Pharaoh ever groveled at your knees for mercy? Get back in line with all the others!” A lesser man would’ve argued with Jethro that adjudicating for the people is an arduous task, a God-ordained one, and not many are qualified for it. A lesser man would’ve rolled his eyes, given Jethro a patronizing pat on the shoulder, and said, “Thanks for the advice, buddy,” before continuing as usual.
But Moses is a great man. Not just because he turns staffs to serpents and preaches before kings and serves God faithfully but because he’s humble. He recognizes the God-given wisdom his father-in-law possesses and the long years of faithful priestly service Jethro’s logged, and without getting defensive or vying for power or making rationalizations he takes the counsel to heart. But there’s greater news here, friend. In verse 21, Jethro specifically challenges Moses to find able men who “fear God, are trustworthy, and hate a bribe,” and Moses is actually able to find many men who fit that high standard! Ponder that. Evidently, there are numerous saints in this wilderness caravan who aren’t spending their days complaining and pining for Egypt, but instead are exemplifying Christ-like fortitude. And I can only imagine what it must have meant for these men to get recruited by Moses for ministerial service, perceiving that God had seen their quiet faithfulness and wanted to reward it.
The moral of the story: godly leadership isn’t just about having courage to step up, but it’s sometimes having courage to step down and make room for others.