Wouldn’t it be nice to be really important? Wouldn’t it be nice to be the person that everyone had to come to for advice and answers. Wouldn’t it be cool if when people walked into your house or work environment, they just knew without even asking that you were in charge, and that everyone else was counting on you because you were the most important?
Well, I’m not sure if Moses wanted to be the most important or not, but in Exodus 18 we see that he is.
In the story, Moses’ father-in-law, Jethro, comes to visit and bring Moses his wife and kids. When Jethro arrives, Moses comes out to meet him and begins to tell him all the mighty work the Lord God has done for them. Jethro rejoices with Moses and claims that God is the only true God and makes a sacrifice to God. So here we have a big God, which is a good thing.
After hearing all the great work that God had done for Israel, Jethro stuck around to observe the work Moses was doing for the people. Exodus 18:3 says, “The next day Moses sat to judge the people, and the people stood around Moses from morning till evening.”
I’m sure Moses was looking out the corner of his eye to make sure his father-in-law was noticing how important he had become, as he judged the people from sun up to sun down. I’m sure Moses could hear Jethro in his head saying, “Wow Moses I am so proud of you! You have made it to the top of your career as a leader! Everyone needs you, and my daughter is so lucky to have you!” So now we have a big God and a big Moses.
And then at the end of the day, Moses’ father-in-law actually speaks to him, but not in the way Moses would have expected. Jethro begins, “What is this that you are doing for the people? Why do you sit alone… What you are doing is not good.”
Can you imagine how those words must have stung Moses? Here Moses was working himself to the bone trying to lead over a million people, and all Jethro could say is this “is not good.” Then Moses began to defend himself by telling Jethro how important he was and how much all the people needed him.
So far in the text we have a big God and a big Moses, and that’s a big problem.
So what needed to change? Jethro tells him at least two things. First, Moses’ needed to stop doing everything and focus on the few things God had called only him to do. And secondly, Moses needed to raise up others leaders under him to share the load so that he would not be overwhelmed, and so that all the people would actually get cared for.
In short, the solution to the problem was for Moses to become smaller (and not so important). It’s a really good thing for God to be big, important, and irreplaceable, but it’s not so good when God’s leaders become the same. Instead, God must always remain big, while His servants remain small. A big God and a small you is a good thing, and not just for you, but also for all those who are counting on you.