October 29, 2011

Who'se Your Jethro?

"When Jethro saw all that Moses was doing for the people, he asked, "What are you really trying to accomplish here?  Why are you trying to do all this alone while everyone stands around you from morning till evening?" Jethro the Midianite

Feedback is a gift.

Moses was in a fix, after 40 years in the desert simply looking after sheep and his own family he found himself leading hundreds of thousands of people.  Talk about rapid change, he had no idea what God was getting him into.  I imagine at first Moses thought, "God just wants me to get my people out of Egypt, I won't actually need to be in charge of these folks"; ahhh...nope, he was stuck with these people.

Moses had been in the desert with the children of Israel for a short period of time when his father-in-law Jethro visited.  After a short while there, Jethro challenged his son-in-law with the above observation.  From a business standpoint Jethro was the bibles' first management consultant to be engaged with a large organization. Moses had an organizational management problem, he basically did everything of consequence. 

Here's how Jethro helped Moses and the new "Israelite organization".
  • Delegation - Prior to Jethro, Moses handled all decisions.  again, Jethro's wisdom in action..."They will help you carry the load, making the task easier for you...you will be able to endure the pressures, and all these people will go home in peace."
  • Clarity of Communication - He put job descriptions in place for Moses' leadership team; "they (Moses' newly appointed leaders) should always be available to solve the people's common disputes, but have them bring the major cases to you.  Let the leaders decided the the smaller matters themselves."
  • Character Counts - He defined the character qualties for the leadership team; "...select capable, honest men who fear God and hate bribes."
  • Span of Control - Jethro defined..."He put them in charge of groups of one thousand, one hundred, fifty and ten."
  • Leadership Development - Jethro knew that in order to really possess a land, Moses needed to develop strong leaders and this could only be accomplished by giving capable people responsibility and letting them execute their jobs.
Why did this strike me? 

Here's why; Moses had spent time in intimacy with God but God hadn't shared these management principles with Moses directly, why?  My theory is that God wanted to use Jethro.  Jethro had relational equity built-up with Moses.  Moses trusted Jethro after years of working for him in the desert.  God wanted Moses to know other leaders could give him strategic input to his cause.  Jethro had not been a slave in Egypt but a priest of Midian and shepard (small business owner).  Unfortunately, yet understandably, slaves often find themselves simply thinking survivial thoughts, not strategic ones.

So here's my personal take-away;

Feedback is a gift.  Find a Jethro and here are a few questions you could ask him (or her) to help prime your feedback pump

  1. So what's it really like to live with me?
  2. If you could change one thing about how I related to you what would it be?
  3. Is there anything I could do to be a better ______ (husband, father, son, brother, employee, etc)?
Thanks for visiting.


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1 comment:

  1. As someone once told me, if you always do what you've always done, you'll always get what you've always got. Feedback is essential for growth as a parent, husband, individual. Otherwise we're stuck like Moses was prior to Jethro's counsel. A big part of the purpose of life is individual growth, and as soon as we stop taking assessment of ourselves and receiving that feedback from others, we stop growing. Growth necessarily implies change, which can be intimidating particularly when things are already going well. It can take faith to trust in the Lord that things will be better by implementing changes based on self-assessment, counsel from others, and most importantly counsel from the Lord Himself. Yet this is precisely the way we arrive at the divine potential that God sees in each one of us as His children.

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