Today’s Bible reading is Exodus 18 and Revelation 17.
Exodus 18 describes a family reunion between Moses, his wife, his two sons, and Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law.
The next day Moses sat to judge the people, and the people stood around Moses from morning till evening. 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?” And Moses said to his father-in-law, “Because the people come to me to inquire of God; 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.” Moses’ father-in-law said to him, “What you are doing is not good. 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. Now obey my voice; I will give you advice…” (Exo 18:13-19)
It turned out to be great advice. Moses would handle the “hard cases” while the “small matters” from that point forward would be handled by “able men” would could serve as “chiefs of thousands, of hundreds, of fifties, and of tens” (Exo 18:24-26).
There are many lessons we can take away from Moses’ father-in-law, but here’s one point of self-evaluation worth thinking about throughout the day: “Am I willing to listen to the advice of others?”
Jethro was looking at the day-by-day challenges facing Moses with fresh perspective and he immediately had concerns.
“What are you doing? This isn’t good. You’re all going to wear yourselves out. This burden is too heavy for you. You can’t possibly do this all on your own. Listen; I’ve got some advice for you…”
If I were Moses in that moment, would I have responded with humility?
“Don’t you know who I am? Haven’t you heard what I’ve already accomplished? The LORD chose me! If he wanted you to be the leader, there are plenty of burning bushes in your backyard! But he didn’t choose you, did he? And I haven’t asked for your input or your advice. I’ve got this, we’re fine, thanks for coming out, have a safe trip home.”
…and perhaps this burden, which was too heavy for one person, would have eventually crushed Moses.
But Moses “listened to the voice of his father-in-law and did all that he had said” (Exo 18:24). Which brings us back to our question for the day: “Am I willing to listen to the advice of others?” Even if I’m in a position of great influence, I can certainly learn from those who are looking at my day-by-day challenges with fresh eyes. Maybe I completely adopt and apply their advice, maybe I don’t. But “if one gives an answer before he hears, it is his folly and shame” (Prov 18:13). Maybe the people around me see something I don’t see. Maybe, because they care about me, they’re willing to say what needs to be said for my betterment, my health, and the good of the people around me.
If Moses was too arrogant in that moment to listen to his father-in-law, he would have missed out on a great solution to a very real challenge, the long-term consequences could have been severe, and the overall situation in Israel wouldn’t have been as healthy.
If Moses recognized the value of listening to the advice of others, shouldn’t we?
The way of a fool is right in his own eyes,
but a wise man listens to advice. (Prov 12:15)