at the Water's Edge

Living life and learning all I can along the way!

Lessons from Moses

Teamwork gets the job done! (Tegucigalpa, Honduras - 2008)

For some reason, when I was a kid the story of the Exodus was my favorite Bible story.  I think it might have had something to do with watching “The Ten Commandments” every year on TV…

At any rate, I’ve learned a lot over the years by looking at the life of Moses.  I’m reading through my Bible chronologically right now, and recently finished the sections about Moses.  One of the passages really struck me while reading through it this time, in a way it never had before.

If you’re like me, when you think of Moses, you tend to think of the burning bush, the plagues in Egypt and Moses parting the Red Sea to bring the Israelites out of slavery and into the Promised Land.  There are a lot of lessons to be learned there, to be sure.  For instance, when I was in high school I heard the saying for the first time that “God doesn’t call the qualified, he qualifies the called.”  I discovered that this saying is totally exemplified in Moses when God called him.  Moses himself said he wasn’t a good speaker; he did not feel comfortable or qualified to approach Pharaoh and tried to come up with excuses to not do what God was asking him.  But God is so much bigger than our shortcomings, and he will give us what we need to carry out his will.  In the end, Moses’ brother, Aaron, helped him and God was able to continue to use Moses in so many ways as he led the people out of Egypt and into the wilderness.  And it’s to the wilderness that I now want to direct your attention.
**As a side note, if you want to learn more from the Israelites’ time in the desert, check out this book my pastor wrote called The Land Between – or download the sermon series

Moses was the leader over Israel and had taken on the duties of a judge – hearing disputes from all the people, and also teaching the people about God’s laws and decrees.  Remembering that the Israelites had just come out of Egypt—a land of abundance—into the desert—a desolate wilderness—you can understand that the Israelites may have been slightly cranky.  They were a quarrelsome bunch, and it seems their complaints were quite burdensome on Moses. 

Exodus 18 talks about a time when Moses’ father-in-law, Jethro, came out into the desert to visit him.  Jethro watched Moses one day as he acted as judge on behalf of the people.  People came to Moses from morning until evening to present their disputes.  When Jethro saw that Moses sat alone as judge over all the people, this is what he said:

 “What you are doing is not good. You and these people who come to you will only wear yourselves out. The work is too heavy for you; you cannot handle it alone.”   
– Exodus 18:18

Jethro then proceeded to give Moses advice on how to help distribute some of his responsibilities among other capable and fully trustworthy people. Although Moses was doing good work, the people would be better served if he allowed others to share in his duties.

I think this resonated with me because I have a tendency to take a lot on myself and not be a good delegator.  I often take the attitude of “if you want it done right, you have to do it yourself.”  Sometimes it is important to get assistance from others, though, because if you are wearing yourself out, not only are you doing yourself harm, but you are not able to give your best to others.  I like this passage because it tells me that it’s okay to ask for help – and the funny thing is, you’ll find that capable and trustworthy people are usually more than willing to give you a hand! 

In Moses’ case, he continued to judge over the more difficult disputes, but his load was greatly lightened by appointing other capable men as judges who could handle the simpler problems.  For me, this really brought to life the expression “many hands make light work.” 

I also really love what Matthew Henry says in his commentary on this passage:

“There may be over-doing even in well-doing. Wisdom is profitable to direct, that we may neither content ourselves with less than our duty, nor task ourselves beyond our strength. Jethro advised Moses to a better plan. Great men should not only study to be useful themselves, but contrive to make others useful.”

We are responsible for not only living up to our own potential, but also for helping others reach theirs by teaching and encouraging them.  What a great challenge!

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Hi there! My name is Dana and I live in West Michigan with my husband, Tom and our dog Copernicus. I created this space as a place to share the things I learn along this journey I call life. I work in marketing and I'm a sort of Jane of All Trades, interested in all things nature, gardening, cooking, exploring and learning new things. This blog is a conglomeration of my interests, hobbies, life and life lessons. Thanks for stopping by!