When 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?” 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 instructions.” Moses’ father-in-law replied, “What you are doing is not good.” (Ex. 18:14-17)
Moses’s father-in-law Jethro was blunt. But he also was profoundly helpful. So much so that Exodus 18:24 tells us that “Moses listened to his father-in-law and did everything he said.”
What did Jethro tell Moses to do? In short, delegate the work of governing Israel. Exodus 18:13-26 gives us a front-row seat to the masterclass Jethro taught Moses on delegation. Today, I want to turn your attention to five principles from that passage that are relevant to you today, whether you lead a team of 10 or 0 and are simply delegating work around your house.
1. Identify the work you’re most uniquely equipped to do
For Moses, that was to “be the people’s representative before God and bring their disputes to him” (v. 19). He was the only person God had called to that task, so Jethro urged him to focus his time and energy on that singular activity.
2. Select trustworthy people to delegate other work to
In verse 21, Jethro told Moses to “select capable” people to delegate the work of judging Israel to. But when he explained what he meant by “capable,” he didn’t focus on technical skills but matters of the heart, urging Moses to select “men who fear God, trustworthy men who hate dishonest gain.”
3. Make the time to train well
One of the most common mistakes I see people make when delegating is not making the time to delegate well. Jethro warned Moses against this, instructing Moses to “teach [his team God’s] decrees and instructions, and show them the way they are to live” (v. 20).
4. Trust your team
“The simple cases they can decide themselves,” Jethro said in verse 22. In other words, “Don’t micro-manage, Moses!” When we trust those we delegate work to, it not only serves us by freeing us to focus on the work we’re most uniquely equipped to do, it also enables others to do their most exceptional work.
5. Delegate, but don’t abdicate
Jethro didn’t advise Moses to let his team handle all cases on their own. Just the “simple” ones. Jethro said, “Have them bring every difficult case to you” (v. 22). Why? Because, to quote Michael Hyatt, “Delegation is not abdication. The outcome is still your responsibility.”
Why does it matter that we, like Moses, learn to delegate well? Because it enables us to excel at the very thing God saved the Israelites and us to do: Work for his glory, the good of others, and the advancement of his kingdom!
This post originally appeared at Jordan’s blog.
Published May 2, 2023