Moses knew about hard work. As a shepherd he would have been responsible for the animals, how when left to wander, did just that…and in every direction. It has been joked about that caring for Jethro’s sheep prepared him to deal with Elohim’s. When, at eighty years old, he returned to confront Pharaoh, he became the de facto leader of the Israelites. Suddenly his flock went from maybe a thousand to several million.
The Israelites themselves had family leaders before Moses. It was nothing new to look to leadership for help. But it was obvious that Moses had a special connection with Elohim. He was a prophet, and one who freed them from slavery and certain death. They did what anyone would do when they had a problem. They came to someone in whom they saw wisdom to ask what to do. Sometimes these were simple matters about how to handle camp life, other times disputes between neighboring tents or more serious camp crimes. But Moses handled all of them.
Enter Jethro. Despite Moses’ wisdom there were still blind spots. One of them was the people that he loved and had worked for so long to free. He understood that they sought his advice, and he didn’t want to disappoint. But Jethro saw the danger Moses was putting himself and the people in. This is what he said:
The thing that you do is not good. You will surely wear away, both you, and this people that is with you; for the thing is too heavy for you. You are not able to perform it yourself alone.Exodus 18:17-18 (WEB)
No matter how you cut it, this was a lot for Moses to do. And they weren’t his only responsibilities. His wife and sons had just returned, he had to organize the camp and travel, he negotiated with neighboring nations for safe passage, and later for food and water. Moses was going to run out of steam. So Jethro offered an easy solutions…ask for help. Yet as easy as this is to say, for most of us it is very hard. Especially in modern Western culture, we are indoctrinated to the idea penned by James Joyce, “There were others who had forced their way to the top from the lowest rung by the aid of their bootstraps.” William Henley put it another way, “I am the master of my fate: I am the captain of my soul.”
Asking for help is hard. It means that we lose power and the ability to control situations. Would the elders get it right? Would they steer the people wrong? Will justice happen? We struggle with the same things. How often are we faced with an impossible situation, and the last resort is asking for help? This response, as it was with Moses, is detrimental to us, our families, and the body of Messiah. In our walk of faith, Elohim has given us a great gift in the people that we walk with. This is why Paul urged the communities of Galatia,
Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. For if a man thinks himself to be something when he is nothing, he deceives himself.Galatians 6:2-3 (WEB)
Asking for help is difficult, and sometimes we’ll be let down. These same leaders that Moses reached out to joined in the sin of the Golden Calf, the rebellion of Dathan and eventually died in the desert because of their refusal to enter the Promised Land. There were disappointments and failures. But in the long run Moses, the leaders and the people benefited. It is a blessing for the body of Messiah to help each other. Not only because we should be concerned with the cares and concerns of each other, but because without this common cause for other’s that have experienced the Messiah’s grace we aren’t fulfilling our purpose in Him.