Moses’ father-in-law said to him, “The thing that you are doing is not good. You will surely wear out, both yourself and these people who are with you, for the task is too heavy for you; you cannot do it alone.”
Sometimes, we need help. There are some jobs that are just too big for one person. While Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law (FiL), gave Moses some excellent advice here, I think it applies just as readily to anyone in any ministry at any time. This advice is timeless and I would do well to listen to Jethro.
The first and most important help we need is from the Helper; the Holy Spirit. To do God’s work, I must have God’s strength. To have God’s strength, I must receive it from God. And the only way to receive God’s strength from God is through the Holy Spirit. IT has been said that the book of Acts—sometimes called “The Acts of the Apostles”—could accurately be called “The Acts of the Holy Spirit.” There’s a LOT of truth in that. The Holy Spirit falls on the apostles and they preach life-changing evangelistic sermons. People lie to the Holy Spirit and He strikes them dead which is, let’s be honest, hardcore. The Holy Spirit speaks to the church and calls out who He wants to accomplish a particular task. This last is also important to the subject at hand. If I am not chosen for a particular work, then the Holy Spirit is not going to be giving me the strength to do it. It’s not my job.
Second, we need help from our fellow servants. I say “servants” because my fellow believers, well-intentioned though they may be, are often more of a hindrance than a help. Notice that it’s the children of Israel (“these people”) coming to Moses for judgment between them. My fellow believers will sometimes be loving impediments to the work God is trying to accomplish. The parents of youth in the youth ministry from which I stepped down were such. They were trying to be careful of their youth and mindful of a bunch of young, single leaders off on a “retreat” (air quotes in the mind of the parents, it really was a retreat). They had good motives for voicing the concerns they had. The problem is that their concerns were (1) unfounded and (2) detrimental to the blooming leadership that withered under such criticism. So it is that we need the help of fellow servants when doing God’s work. We need the aide of others called to the same work as we. If my heart is to serve youth, then I need the help of others who have a heart to serve youth. Those with hearts to serve children and young adults are great, but are not the most appropriate help in the task God has me working. My pastor needs my help in this form: my prayers. He doesn’t need my input on what stories to use (or not) or which passages to teach on or anything of the sort. My heart is for a particular sub-set of his congregation. His heart is for the whole. When Moses puts his FiL’s advice into practice, he sets people in charge of progressively larger (or smaller, depending on which side of things you start on) groups. My pastor is over the whole congregation (Moses). There is an overseer who is over me (ruler of thousands?). There are those who serve alongside me (rulers of tens? hundreds? dunno). And there are those we serve (the congregation/assembly). The point, since I’m rabbit-trailing, is that I’m most helpful to my pastor when I attend to the ministry God has set before me and pray for the spiritual health of my pastor and the congregation — particularly my little sub-set.
So, today I find two sides to what this passage is saying. Side one: those who are serving need the help of others who are serving in the same work. Pastors need LOTS of help — a congregation has too many needs for one person to handle them all alone. Leaders need the help of those called to serve in their ministry. And those served need the ministry of those called to serve. How can we learn unless we are taught and how can we be taught if no one shows up prepared to teach? Side two: I need to be a help for those who serve me … by praying. My inputs might be well-intentioned, but if my heart is for another ministry, I will ultimately be an annoyance and possibly a hindrance to what God is up to. Side note (but SUPER important): NONE of this is possible without all parties involved first receiving the Help of the Holy Spirit.
Father God, thank You for calling me to a particular work. Thank You, also, that You call me to support those who are called to serve You by serving me. Please bless them and keep them and make Your face shine upon them today. May You lift up Your countenance on them, be gracious to them, and give them peace this and every day. Thank You for their service. Please remind me to thank them when the opportunity presents itself.