FIVE CRITICAL RESPONSIBILITIES of a GODLY LEADER: “Stand before God for the people, so that you may bring the difficulties to God. And you shall teach them the statutes and the laws, and show them the way in which they must walk and the work they must do. Moreover you shall select from all the people able men, such as fear God, men of truth, hating covetousness; and place such over them to be rulers of thousands, rulers of hundreds, rulers of fifties, and rulers of tens. And let them judge the people at all times" (Exo. 18:19-22)
After Moses began his enormous task of leading over 600,000 Israelites to the Promised Land under the direction of God, his father-in-law Jethro, the priest of Midian, visited Moses in the wilderness bringing with him Zipporah, Moses’ wife and their two sons Gershom and Eliezer (18:1-6). After exchanging the usual pleasantries, Jethro had the chance to observe Moses he sat down to judge the people. It is obvious that already many disagreements had started among the people of God, some trivial and others complicated. Other than Moses, there was nobody designated by Moses yet, nor was his judicial responsibilities delegated to anyone else, who could be able to judge these matters.
What Jethro observed was that from morning to evening, Moses sat on a particular seat to judge the people and everyone else stood beside him to hear his judgment. People came from all the different camp sites to know God’s will in their particular matters of interest. Through this interaction, Moses would both judge as well as make known to the people the statues of God. It soon became obvious to Jethro that it would be detrimental to Moses’ health and well being if he was to continue to be the sole judge and lawgiver of Israel. Moses was already overextended and overstretched (v. 13), and all the Israelites were already making too many demands from him (vv. 14-15). In fact, Moses wore too many hats – leading the Israelites, arbitrating personal disputes and handing down legal judgments for a great multitude – and from a humanly perspective, he would not be able to continue in this manner for a long time. Moses was a classic case of a workaholic heading toward burnout!
So, Jethro gave wise counsel to his son-in-law that was not disputed or rejected by Jehovah God. What Jethro told Moses was that he should delegate more trivial disputes to other godly and wise people that he should appoint, while taking up the more challenging counseling cases for himself (vv. 18-22). While giving this counsel, Jethro also mentioned five critical responsibilities of a godly leader that all spiritual leaders should take note and follow:
- INTERCEDE: A godly leader should stand before God on behalf of the people (v. 19). This act is primarily the responsibility of an Old Testament priest. However, God has designated us as part of the “holy priesthood” (1 Peter 2:5) and “royal priesthood” (1 Peter 2:9). As a spiritual leader, this responsibility as God’s under-shepherds should be performed intentionally every day.
- TEACH-EQUIP: A godly leader should teach God’s Word faithfully to the people (v. 20a). For the New Testament disciples, the Lord Jesus Christ has required that they should especially teach “all things that He has commanded” or, the commandments of Jesus as recorded in the four Gospels (see Matt. 28:20a).
- MODEL: A godly leader should model to the people the way they should walk and the work they should do (v. 20b). We find that many church leaders preach one thing but their lives reflect something else. Every godly leader should be able to tell to the people the following words of Apostle Paul: "Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ" (1 Cor 11:1).
- CHOOSE: A godly leader should be able to select godly people in order to designate them in areas of responsibility (v. 21). Here the selection criteria include choosing men who are talented and capable, who revere God, who are truthful and those who hate covetousness. In the early New Testament church, however, they chose seven men “of good reputation, full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom" (Acts 6:3).
- DELEGATE: Finally, a godly leader should empower and delegate their leadership responsibilities to capable people (v. 22). In this case, Jethro counseled Moses to allow able men to be able to judge the smaller cases of people at all times, even in his presence. These days, godly leaders should delegate tasks and responsibilities to capable people even while empowering them with the adequate tools and resources.