WISDOM FOR LIVING DAILY DEVOTIONAL
MAY 14, 2021
TOPIC: THE BURDEN OF LEADERSHIP
BY T. O. BANSO
“This is not good!’ his father-in-law exclaimed. ‘You’re going to wear yourself out — and the people, too. This job is too heavy a burden for you to handle all by yourself’” (Exodus 18:17-18 New Living Translation).
Leadership is a heavy burden that one man cannot carry alone. The leader needs his subordinates to share with him the burden. He needs burden bearers.
Sometimes wrong motives, ignorance, selfishness, greed, insecurity, and similar things may make the leader want to carry the burden alone. This could lead to inefficiency and ineffectiveness, burnout, and even untimely death.
The top leadership should not be involved in every matter but be concerned with weighty matters, knotty issues, which the subordinates cannot handle. No leader should assume he can do everything.
In Exodus 18, Moses’ father-in-law, Jethro, the priest of Midian, watched the way Moses sat to judge the people. They stood before Moses from morning until evening. After seeing all that Moses did for the people, Jethro said to Moses, “What is this thing that you are doing for the people? Why do you alone sit, and all the people stand before you from morning until evening?” (Verse 14 New King James Version).
Moses had a ready answer: “Because the people come to me to inquire of God. When they have a difficulty, they come to me, and I judge between one and another; and I make known the statutes of God and His laws” (Exodus 18:15-16 New King James Version).
There was nothing wrong with Moses’ job. It was his method that was faulty. This was what Jethro was trying to correct. He told him point-blank: “The thing that you do is not good. Both you and these people who are with you will surely wear yourselves out. For this thing is too much for you; you are not able to perform it by yourself” (Exodus 18:17-18 New King James Version).
The New Living Translation puts it this way: “‘This is not good!’ his father-in-law exclaimed. ‘You’re going to wear yourself out — and the people, too. This job is too heavy a burden for you to handle all by yourself.’” Take note of that sentence “This job is too heavy a burden for you to handle all by yourself.”
The burden of leadership is heavy. Don’t try to carry it alone. Otherwise, you will wear yourself out and wear out the people you lead. Jesus didn’t carry the burden of leadership alone when He was on earth, yet He was the Son of God. Mark 3:14 says Jesus appointed twelve, that they might be with Him and that He might send them out to preach.
In Exodus 18:19-23, Jethro taught Moses what to do, which was applying the principle of delegation of responsibilities. He would choose those who feared God, men of truth who hate covetousness, and place them over the people to be rulers of thousands, rulers of hundreds, rulers of fifties, and rulers of tens.
Jethro said, “And let them judge the people at all times. Then it will be that every great matter they shall bring to you, but every small matter they themselves shall judge. So it will be easier for you, for they will bear the burden with you. If you do this thing, and God so commands you, then you will be able to endure, and all this people will also go to their place in peace” (Exodus 18:22-23 New King James Version)
Jethro didn’t impose his advice on Moses. If you look at the last sentence in that scripture, he didn’t say he must do what he said. Jethro wasn’t a controlling leader or mentor. He gave his advice but the rest depended on if Moses did what he told him and if God so commanded him.
Don’t forget what Jethro told him earlier. “You’re going to wear yourself out — and the people, too. This job is too heavy a burden for you to handle all by yourself” (Exodus 18:18 New Living Translation). Leadership is a heavy burden.
In Deuteronomy 1:12, Moses himself admitted the weight of the burden of leadership on him: “How can I alone bear your problems and your burdens and your complaints?” (New King James Version)
Moses took Jethro’s advice. He appointed tribal leaders – leaders of thousands, leaders of hundreds, leaders of fifties, leaders of tens, and officers for the tribes. However, despite this, it appeared the burden was still too much on Moses because he had to cry to God when it was becoming unbearable for him, especially the complaining attitude of the Israelites. He even asked God to kill him!
Numbers 11:10-12 says, “Then Moses heard the people weeping throughout their families, everyone at the door of his tent; and the anger of the LORD was greatly aroused; Moses also was displeased. So Moses said to the LORD, ‘Why have You afflicted Your servant? And why have I not found favor in Your sight, that You have laid the burden of all these people on me? Did I conceive all these people? Did I beget them, that You should say to me, ‘Carry them in your bosom, as a guardian carries a nursing child,’ to the land which You swore to their fathers?
He continued in verses 13-15: “Where am I to get meat to give to all these people? For they weep all over me, saying, ‘Give us meat, that we may eat.’ I am not able to bear all these people alone, because the burden is too heavy for me. If You treat me like this, please kill me here and now — if I have found favor in Your sight — and do not let me see my wretchedness!’” (New King James Version). Take note of that phrase “because the burden is too heavy for me.”
Jethro was right when he told Moses earlier that the burden was too much for one man to carry. God responded to Moses’ cry, going beyond what Moses had done appointing leaders who met certain criteria. God took of the Spirit upon Moses and put it upon the leaders or elders so that they would be able to do what Moses could do. This was a dimension higher than Jethro’s advice which probably worked for a season, but the burden on Moses remained huge.
Numbers 11:16-17 says, “So the LORD said to Moses: ‘Gather to Me seventy men of the elders of Israel, whom you know to be the elders of the people and officers over them; bring them to the tabernacle of meeting, that they may stand there with you. Then I will come down and talk with you there. I will take of the Spirit that is upon you and will put the same upon them; and they shall bear the burden of the people with you, that you may not bear it yourself alone” (New King James Version).
Moses immediately acted on God’s instruction, which led to the appointment of seventy out of the elders of Israel, on whom God put the Spirit that was upon Moses. “So Moses went out and told the people the words of the LORD, and he gathered the seventy men of the elders of the people and placed them around the tabernacle. Then the LORD came down in the cloud, and spoke to him, and took of the Spirit that was upon him, and placed the same upon the seventy elders; and it happened, when the Spirit rested upon them, that they prophesied, although they never did so again” (Numbers 11: 24-25 New King James Version).
Even the Spirit rested upon two men, Eldad and Medad, who had remained in the camp and were not with them. They prophesied. Joshua, Moses’ assistant, asked Moses to forbid them (Numbers 11:26-27). “Then Moses said to him, ‘Are you zealous for my sake? Oh, that all the LORD’s people were prophets and that the LORD would put His Spirit upon them!’” (Verses 29 New King James Version). Look at the response of Moses. That was a secure leader.
While some leaders as sincerely facing the challenge of finding faithful men among their subordinates who will be committed to the leadership assignment, some leaders are insecure and possessive.They cannot keep those God brings to them to help them in leadership. Therefore, the work suffers.
Leaders need other leaders, willing to share the burden with them because the burden is too much for one leader to carry. In Exodus 24, before Moses went up into the mountain, he said to the elders, “Wait here for us until we come back to you. Indeed, Aaron and Hur are with you. If any man has a difficulty, let him go to them” (Exodus 24:14 New King James Version).
Paul said about Timothy, “For I have no one like-minded, who will sincerely care for your state. For all seek their own, not the things which are of Christ Jesus. But you know his proven character, that as a son with his father he served with me in the gospel” (Philippians 2:20-22 New King James Version).
As a leader, don’t try to do it alone if you don’t want to die before your time. It is true some around you or under you may have ulterior motives – that is why you should be guided by the Holy Spirit and delegate, but you don’t abdicate. However, you must deal with selfishness and insecurity in your life if you’re guilty of these, as they won’t help you.
As a leader, if you must go higher, if you must have time to be alone with God, you must have leaders who can handle issues in your absence, otherwise, you’ll either become immobile being tied down solving the routine problems of the people or you move and come back to meet chaos when you return. That doesn’t mean that the leaders under you will not make mistakes sometimes – you make mistakes too.
Aaron was a leader under Moses but succumbed to pressure from the Israelites and led them into idolatry – he made for them the golden calf (Exodus 32:1-6). That was a serious sin on Aaron’s part showing weakness in his character as a leader. Aaron’s explanation to Moses thereafter about why and how he made the calf was a lame excuse (verses 21-24).
However, despite the risk involved in delegating power, a leader who will be effective and efficient must acknowledge that he cannot achieve so much by leading alone. He must share leadership with others.
If you are not born again, you need to give your life to Jesus now. I urge you to take the following steps: *Admit you are a sinner and you cannot save yourself and repent of your sins. *Confess Jesus as your Lord and Saviour. *Renounce your past way of life – your relationship with the devil and his works. *Invite Jesus into your life. *As a mark of seriousness to mature in the faith, start attending a Bible-believing and Bible-teaching church. There they will teach you how to grow in the Kingdom of God.
Kindly say this prayer now: O Lord God, I come unto you today. I know I am a sinner and I cannot save myself. I believe that Jesus is the Son of God who died on the cross to save me and resurrected the third day. I repent of my sins and confess Jesus as my Lord and Saviour. I surrender my life to Jesus now and invite Him into my heart. By this prayer, I know I am saved. Thank you, Jesus, for saving me and making me a child of God.
I believe you have said this prayer from your heart. Congratulations! You will need to join a Bible-believing and Bible-teaching church in your area where they will teach you how to live your new life in Christ Jesus. I pray that you flourish like the palm tree and grow like the cedar of Lebanon. May you grow into Christ in all things and become all God wants you to be. I will be glad to hear from you. The Lord be with you
PRAYER POINTS: Leadership is too heavy a burden; Father, help me; send me help. Father, give me those who fear You, men and women of truth who hate covetousness, who will share the burden of leadership with me. Deliver every insecure leader from insecurity in Jesus’ name.
(For over 600 in-depth and powerful messages by T.O. Banso, visit www.cedarministry.org).
T. O. Banso is the President, Cedar Ministry International, Abuja, Nigeria.
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