I want to focus on Moses and his father-in-law today. We get taught about the manna and the water from the rock all the time. I haven’t had enough sermons on Jethro and his good advice. Or better yet, on how Moses took that advice.
Jethro came to visit his son-in-law, to escort his daughter and grandsons back to Moses. I don’t know when Moses sent his wife back to her father, or why, it doesn’t say. She accompanies Moses to Egypt, and then she’s next mentioned back with her father here. Maybe Moses wanted to protect them from the trauma of the plagues. If so, probably a good call.
When they arrive, they greet each other affectionately. Also, as equals. Jethro doesn’t try to posture as Moses father-in-law, despite having been the authority before Moses left to free his people. Moses doesn’t posture in his new position as leader of a nation. They greet each other, they embrace, they ask about family. I just… that seems nice.
And then, when Jethro sits in on the daily business the next day, he sees some problems. He’s held a position of authority; he’s led people. Maybe not on the scale of Israel, but enough to know Moses is not going to do well if he continues as he is. He’s going to burn out in a big way.
(To be honest, Moses kind of burns out anyway. All the complaining will do that to you.)
Does Jethro keep it to himself? Does he criticize Moses and ask him what he thinks he’s doing? No. He respectfully but quite clearly lets Moses know there’s a problem. He does kind of start with “What is this that you’re doing?” But I don’t think it was the harsh way that implies a “what’s wrong with you?” I think we was making sure he understood. Or maybe it was just his way of broaching the subject. Regardless, Moses receives it well.
Jethro gives good advice, and Moses acts on it.
Wisdom is shared. Wisdom accepts guidance. Good leaders support each other. Constructive criticism doesn’t insult someone for being less experienced or less educated, and humility appreciates the help.
In how many situations would our lives have been better had they followed this model? How often do we get too defensive to make the best use of good advice? How often are we too harsh in efforts to ‘help’ someone else?
This is just a beautiful relationship between these men, and the world needs more of it.