Click this link to hear an audio version of the below text narrated by SOTH member Jerry Rhinehart:
Exodus 18:13-27 (ESV)
13 The next day Moses sat to judge the people, and the people stood around Moses from morning till evening. 14 When Moses’ father-in-law saw all that he was doing for the people, he said, “What is this that you are doing for the people? Why do you sit alone, and all the people stand around you from morning till evening?” 15 And Moses said to his father-in-law, “Because the people come to me to inquire of God; 16 when they have a dispute, they come to me and I decide between one person and another, and I make them know the statutes of God and his laws.” 17 Moses’ father-in-law said to him, “What you are doing is not good. 18 You and the people with you will certainly wear yourselves out, for the thing is too heavy for you. You are not able to do it alone. 19 Now obey my voice; I will give you advice, and God be with you! You shall represent the people before God and bring their cases to God, 20 and you shall warn them about the statutes and the laws, and make them know the way in which they must walk and what they must do. 21 Moreover, look for able men from all the people, men who fear God, who are trustworthy and hate a bribe, and place such men over the people as chiefs of thousands, of hundreds, of fifties, and of tens. 22 And let them judge the people at all times. Every great matter they shall bring to you, but any small matter they shall decide themselves. So it will be easier for you, and they will bear the burden with you. 23 If you do this, God will direct you, you will be able to endure, and all this people also will go to their place in peace.”
24 So Moses listened to the voice of his father-in-law and did all that he had said. 25 Moses chose able men out of all Israel and made them heads over the people, chiefs of thousands, of hundreds, of fifties, and of tens. 26 And they judged the people at all times. Any hard case they brought to Moses, but any small matter they decided themselves. 27 Then Moses let his father-in-law depart, and he went away to his own country.
It is very helpful to watch Moses at work over the course of time. We tend to remember only the high points of his work, like when he stretched out his staff and parted the Red Sea, or when he received the 10 Commandments. When we read the stories in between, we see that his work was very difficult. He was leading a large nation, and they were not easy to lead! Often, leadership was a burden, because there were constant quarrels and grumbling and disobedience to God. Sometimes Moses wanted to quit, and yesterday, we saw how his stress led to sin. (See Psalm 106:32-33 on how the people made Moses’ spirit bitter.) In this scene, God leads Jethro, his father-in-law, to visit Moses and give him wise advice. This advice is still just as relevant today. If we want to carry out our responsibilities, and not grow bitter or become burned out, we need to share the load!