Leaders must grow in the skill to delegate responsibility

Healthy leadership leads to growth, resulting in increased organizational load for the leader which at some point will impede the leader’s ability lead effectively – unless the leader grows in the skill to delegate responsibly.


Exodus 18:13-24

13 The next day Moses took his seat to serve as judge for the people, and they stood around him from morning till evening. 14 When [Jethro] his father-in-law saw all that Moses was doing for the people, he 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?”  15 Moses answered him, “Because the people come to me to seek God’s will. 16 Whenever they have a dispute, it is brought to me, and I decide between the parties and inform them of God’s decrees and instructions.”

17 Moses’ father-in-law replied, “What you are doing is not good. 18 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. 19 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. 20 Teach them his decrees and instructions, and show them the way they are to live and how they are to behave. 21 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. 22 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. 23 If you do this and God so commands, you will be able to stand the strain, and all these people will go home satisfied.”  24 Moses listened to his father-in-law and did everything he said.

Observations and reflection questions

Note: After Moses lead the Hebrews out of Egypt, Moses’ father-in-law Jethro brought heard of it and came to Moses in the wilderness.

  1. What troubled Jethro about Moses’ leadership style? And what was the risk?
  2. Ironically, what was the thing that caused Moses to be overwhelmed? [hint: God’s gift and God’ will]
    1. What was the promise of Jethro’s counsel? (verse 23)
    2. What do you learn from this about leadership, obedience and stewarding your gift?
  3. In your own words, what were the qualifications of people Moses were advised to assign responsibility to, in order to lighten his load?
    1. Instead, what were the three things ought Moses to focus on? (verses 19-21)
    2. What do you learn about leadership, obedience and stewardship from this example?

Personal reflection and application questions

Moses was an extraordinary transformational leader with profound wisdom and endurance, so the people were naturally drawn to him for counsel, but the workload drained him and impeded his leadership function. He had to learn to delegate leadership responsibility and empower trustworthy people in solving less critical matters.  This ensured progress towards the vision and his personal preservation.

  1. Consider a major personal area of leadership or responsibility.
    1. What were you called to do or entrusted with primarily? Pray about this now and write it down.
    2. What do you do best, and what do you enjoy doing most?
    3. Which non-core tasks are you responsible for which other trained people can do just as well as you do?
    4. Whom in your group can you train and entrust to do these essential but non-core tasks, to lighten you load and ensure better progress in your vision or project? Pray and write down names and future responsibilities.
    5. Make dates to talk through these things with these people.
  2. For fellowship or Bible study groups, assigning “Prayer Friends” to encourage and support one or two people is an excellent way to ensure the care and welfare of the whole group, while lightening the load of the small group leader.
    1. In your group, who is capable and faithful to do such a thing? Pray about this now.
    2. Whom should they walk a road with, and what would their responsibilities be?
    3. When will you talk to them about this?