Scripture Reading: Exodus 18
Feeling overwhelmed with too much to do? Don’t despair. Help may be on the way! I was lamenting to a friend one day about all the things I felt God wanted me to do. She asked: “Why would God give you more to do than one person could do?” I knew the answer: He wouldn’t. He knows what I can handle and what I can’t.
So I knew there were only two options left: 1) Either God hadn’t given me everything I felt He wanted me to do, and I needed to back out of some of them; Or 2) God had given me all the things I felt He wanted me to do, and I needed to find a new way to do them.
It turned out to be some of both. For this lesson, though, I want to focus on the second option. There are times when God calls us to accomplish things for Him, that don’t require us to do them all by ourselves.
Moses found himself in this situation when leading over 600,000 men, not counting all the women and children, through a desert. Moses’ father-in-law, Jethro, saw all that Moses was doing and said:
“What is this you are doing for the people? Why do you alone sit as judge, while all these people stand around you from morning till evening?”
Moses answered him, “Because the people come to me to seek God’s will. Whenever they have a dispute, it is brought to me, and I decide between the parties and inform them of God’s decrees and laws.”
Moses’ father-in-law replied, “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. Listen now to me and I will give you some advice, and may God be with you. You must be the people’s representative before God and bring their disputes to him. Teach them the decrees and laws, and show them the way to live and the duties they are to perform. But select capable men from all the people―men who fear God, trustworthy men who hate dishonest gain―and appoint them as officials over thousands, hundreds, fifties and tens. Have them serve as judges for the people at all times, but have them bring every difficult case to you; the simple cases they can decide themselves. That will make your load lighter, because they will share it with you. If you do this and God so commands, you will be able to stand the strain, and all these people will go home satisfied.”
Moses listened to his father-in-law and did everything he said. (Exodus 18:14-24)
Here was Moses, a man truly called by God to lead the people, yet becoming overwhelmed by taking care of every dispute by himself. Jethro saw that this would eventually wear Moses out―as well as all the people. So Jethro gave Moses some practical advice: “Get help!” Moses did, and he was able to fulfill the call of God on his life in a way that he was able to “stand the strain,” and all the people went home “satisfied.”
Was Moses called to lead the people? Absolutely. Did that mean he had to meet every need personally? Not at all. While he was still ultimately responsible for the people, he found that by putting a system into place and enlisting the help of others he was able to fulfill the call of God on his life.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed with too much to do, it’s worth an honest prayer to God: “Am I doing the things You want me to do? And if so, is there another way You want me to do them?” Then listen to His honest answers, which come at times through other people.
Even Moses, as close as He was to God, still allowed God to speak into His life through another human being. God’s goal was to meet the needs of the people. Moses’ goal was to see that it got done. Take a look at the goal, then look at your role. In the end, I believe God will help you to “stand the strain,” and all the people will go home “satisfied.”
Want to learn more? You can watch a podcast with more discussion about this topic below.