In Exodus 18, Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law meets with him to encourage him and give him some administrative insights. Now that Moses was the leader of a nation of thousands, his workload was intense. (Exodus 18:18) Jethro proposed to Moses what we would call an organization chart – Moses would lead leaders, who would lead the people in various areas. It seems to me that Scripture presents at least four important truths about leadership in Exodus 18:
- Moses father-in-law revealed his wisdom by recognizing what God said He was going to demonstrate to both the Israelites and the Egyptians: that Yahweh (the LORD) is greater than all other gods. (Exodus 18:11) This is especially significant because Jethro wasn’t present for any of these events. Moses told him about what God had done, and immediately Jethro responded enthusiastically to the news. (Exodus 18:8-9)
- As the leader of a large nation, much of Moses’ work was mediating disputes between people and teaching them about the Lord. (Exodus 18:15-16) Wherever there are people, there will be sin and disputes that need to be resolved.
- Notice the characteristics Moses is to seek in those who will lead: they are to be capable men, spiritual men, men who are trustworthy, and men who can’t be bought. (Exodus 18:21) These are qualities all great leaders possess.
- With maturity and age come wisdom, and it is wise for younger leaders to respect and receive counsel from older leaders when their advice does not contradict Scripture. Even though Jethro was a Midianite and not an Israelite, Moses recognized his father-in-law’s wisdom, maturity and insight and implemented what Jethro suggested. (Exodus 18:24)
This was all very significant because Moses and the Israelites were camped near the base of Mount Sinai. Very soon, the Israelites are going to have the 10 commandments and a much more formal legal structure. The law will reveal God’s holiness and man’s sinfulness, thus increasing the need for an organization to administer the law. Through the wisdom of Moses’ Midianite father-in-law, the Lord is rolling out the organizational structure that will enable Moses to effectively lead His covenant people.