Exodus 18:13-23 reads - "And so it was, on the next day, that Moses sat to judge the people; and the people stood before Moses from morning until evening. So when Moses' father-in-law [Jethro] saw all that he did for the people, he said, '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?' And Moses said to his father-in-law, '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.' So Moses' father-in-law said to him, '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. Listen now to my voice; I will give you counsel, and God will be with you: Stand before God for the people, so that you may bring the difficulties to God. And you shall teach them the statutes and the laws, and show them the way in which they must walk and the work they must do. Moreover you shall select from all the people able men1, such as fear God2, men of truth3, hating covetousness4; and place such over them to be rulers of thousands, rulers of hundreds, rulers of fifties, and rulers of tens. And let them judge the people at all times5. Then it will be that every great matter they shall bring to you, but every small matter they themselves shall judge6. 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."
In a nutshell, Moses was trying to do it all, and he was struggling to keep up. Jethro offered some very wise advice. Moses needed help. He needed to delegate some responsibilities. He needed some other leaders to assist him in guiding the Israelites and resolving problems in a timely and orderly fashion.
Now this brings up the question: How? How were these leaders to be chosen? What qualities would they need to be considered good leaders? A careful look at Jethro's words (which we've already read) reveals six qualities that Moses was to look for. While it is true that these are characteristics Jethro suggested nearly 3500 years ago, it does not mean that these qualities of good leadership are outdated. They are still relevant today. These characteristics are important for spiritual leaders today, although this list is certainly not comprehensive.
1. GOOD LEADERS ARE ABLE.
Webster defines "able" as having enough power or skill to do something. Not everyone is equipped to be a leader; some lack the required abilities. However, just because one is not able to accomplish a certain task now, does not mean that he will never be able to accomplish such. Capable leaders are not born--they are made! How? Through desire, prayer, and long hours of preparation (cf. Phil. 4:13).
2. GOOD LEADERS MUST FEAR GOD.
That is, a good leader must have a deep reverence and respect for God. If a leader does not highly esteem the Lord and His word, he is doomed to fail and destroy others with himself. A reverent leader will inspire others to love God and follow the Lord's will (cf. Eccl. 12:13).
3. GOOD LEADERS ARE PEOPLE OF TRUTH.
They must be dedicated to knowing the truth, teaching the truth, and standing for the truth at any cost. They will not compromise with error (cf. Prov. 23:23).
Friends, are you a leader? If so, are you the kind of leader that God wants you to be? We will consider some more thoughts on this theme tomorrow from Exodus 18.