2017-11-08 / Faith

Centered, not central

Lessons from the Heart
By Pastor Michael Rogers

When Moses leads the Israelites out of Egypt, his task is larger than he realizes. Thousands of people need care and food and shelter; people who spent their whole lives as slaves relying on someone else to make decisions. The Israelites do not have a frame of reference for justice. For years, fairness was decided by masters who thought of the Israelites as little more than cattle.

Now they are free. What is right and what is wrong? The immediate response is to find a person who can help them navigate it. Who do they trust? Who has God’s ear? How can they know they are treated fairly? All these years and all their experiences, tell them they cannot trust themselves. They did not have Scripture, no set of laws to check. Maybe they still weren’t even sure about this, God who saved them only to turn them loose in the desert. Where can they go to get a measure of justice?

In Exodus 18, Moses is fulfilling this need in the people. When they have a dispute, any dispute, they come to Moses to hear what God thinks about their situation. Moses spends his entire day while they are camped, (I guess he also heard cases as they traveled), sitting in judgment of the people. Enter Jethro, Moses’ fatherin law. He sees his new son is making some huge mistakes: 1. Moses is required to handle all the disputes. 2. Moses is the keeper of right and wrong. 3. Moses is teaching the people to depend on him. 4. Moses is making the people feel that only he can hear from God.

Jethro comes along and says, “This thing you are doing is not good! You will wear yourself and the people out like this!” Then he asks Moses to consider the following things. It might be good for us to consider them, too. 1. If I act like it is all up to me, it will be all up to me. 2. If I act like only I can know God’s will, I will be the only one trusting God. 3. If I act like only I can be trusted, I will not foster trustworthiness. 4. If I am the only one in charge, I cannot blame people for grumbling.

If we are called to be leaders, we should be centered on Jesus, but not central to the cause. Our followers will appreciate it and our leadership will be easier.

Michael Rogers is the pastor at Faith Church of Christ in Burlington.

Return to top