March 19, 2023 | Doug Sauder
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In part 14 of the Book of Exodus, we’ll study Exodus 18 as we see Moses meet with his father-in-law and get some great counsel. Discover the importance of mentorship and surrounding yourself with great community!
Below, you’ll find some key discussion points to consider, questions to personally reflect on and/or discuss in your small group, with your family, or in your circle of friends, and some action points for the week.
Memory Verse of the Week: Exodus 18:7–9 (NIV)
“So Moses went out to meet his father-in-law and bowed down and kissed him. They greeted each other and then went into the tent. Moses told his father-in-law about everything the Lord had done to Pharaoh and the Egyptians for Israel’s sake and about all the hardships they had met along the way and how the Lord had saved them. Jethro was delighted to hear about all the good things the Lord had done for Israel in rescuing them from the hand of the Egyptians.”
READ: Exodus 18:1–12
In years past, most careers you would get into operated on a master/apprentice model. For example, a master blacksmith would take on an apprentice and train them to do the job well, as if the master was doing it. That’s the goal. From carpenters to merchants to farmers to priests and rabbis, this model of apprenticeship has stood the test of time. It’s also the model Jesus used to raise up His disciples to take the gospel to the ends of the earth. You see, just like a blacksmith, we all need people to guide us as we learn to live like Jesus, grow in relationship with Jesus, and walk in the gifts and calling Jesus has for us. And then likewise, we get to pass that on to someone else through the continued legacy of what we call discipleship—the practice of making disciples, learners and apprentices of Jesus Christ!
Similarly, here in Exodus 18, in the account of Moses and his mentor/father-in-law Jethro, we see a beautiful example for us to follow. Let’s focus on three specific aspects of a discipleship relationship we all desperately need, yet most often lack:
1. A bond defined by love and intimacy: Moses went out to greet Jethro when he visited. While it was custom to meet an honored guest, the act of obeisance (bowing in respect) was wholly voluntary. It shows Moses’ humility and affection toward his most treasured mentor figure.
The disciple/discipler bond should be marked by mutual love, affection, devotion, respect, and humility. Do you have a mentor figure who has walked with you and shown you what it looks like to walk with Jesus? When was the last time you honored them like Moses honored Jethro?
2. Celebration: Moses told Jethro everything God had done, and Jethro rejoiced and praised the Lord with Moses! It’s a beautiful thing to read.
To share together in the work of God, to relive what He’s done in your life with someone who’s been there with you and seen you grow is so crucial for you and them! What has the Lord done in your life recently? How have you seen Him move and work? Tell a mentor figure about it! Call them or connect in person. Give them the privilege of experiencing the joy of the Lord with you!
3. Breaking bread: There’s something so wonderful about sharing a meal with someone, particularly someone who’s been significant in your discipleship journey. Here we see Moses, his brother, and those who serve with him share a meal with his father-in-law “in the presence of God.” That’s so cool!
I pray the next time you share a meal with other believers, whether to have fellowship, share stories, celebrate, mourn, seek counsel, and/or just enjoy deep human relationships, you wouldn’t breeze by it as just another everyday activity. Instead, that you remember you’re breaking bread “in the presence of God” and to the praise of His glory!
Discussion Question 1: What can we learn about Christian relationships, particularly mentor/discipleship relationships, from Moses and Jethro?
Discussion Question 2: Why are these mentor/discipleship relationships so important for our maturity and development as followers of Jesus?
READ: Exodus 18:13-18
Have you ever been shown a picture that made no sense until you zoomed out and realized you were looking at only a small corner of it? Now, having zoomed out, you can tell that odd little cluster of pixels was actually part of a beautiful family portrait.
Isn’t it strange how this is often how we view our own lives, like an extreme close-up of a larger photo? Often times we become so granular, zoomed in, and short-sighted. Our minds become so narrow we can’t see the potential dangers and damage, gaps, struggles, and sinfulness, nor can we identify the solutions. What do we need? Someone to help us “zoom out” and see the bigger picture, to gain greater perspective, discover the truth, and find the best way forward.
As we continue our look at Jethro’s visit, we discover some powerful, profound, and vital benefits that come with having a mentor/discipler in our lives: accountability, hard truths, and wise counsel.
In Exodus 18:13–18, on the second day of Jethro’s visit, we see Moses work from dawn until late in the evening. And Jethro saw a gap Moses didn’t see. It says, “When his father-in-law saw all that Moses was doing for the people, he said, ‘What is this you are doing for the people? Why do you alone sit as judge, while all these people stand around you from morning till evening?’”
So, as someone who has influence over Moses’ life, someone Moses trusts and respects, Jethro speaks into Moses’ life: “What you are doing is not good. You and these people who come to you will only wear yourselves out. The work is too heavy for you; you cannot handle it alone.”
Jethro saw the bigger picture that Moses couldn’t see. He saw Moses burning the candle at both ends, shouldering too much responsibility, and having too many expectations placed on him. He saw burnout in Moses’ future. So, he had a hard conversation, entered into a hard space alongside his mentee, and offered wise counsel to help Moses honor the Lord and take the necessary steps that would be best for himself and everyone.
Now, here’s something to remember: Moses was more than 80 years old at this time. Why point this out? Because it shows us that no matter how old we get, we never outgrow the need for discipleship and spiritual leadership. We all need friends and mentors who are willing to step into hard spaces, speak truth and have hard conversations when we’re struggling in some area, and offer honest, wise, biblical, Spirit-led advice . . . all from a place of mutual love, devotion, respect, and humility.
Is it uncomfortable sometimes? Yes, absolutely. But, friends, the benefits that come with having someone who is willing to step into these spaces with you FAR outweigh any discomfort—and the alternative is simply too dangerous to consider.
Friends, God desires these relationships for us. That’s why the Bible is full of examples like Jethro and Moses, Samuel and David, Elijah and Elisha, Paul and Timothy, Jesus and His disciples. Your life—and theirs—will be enriched by it, your faith will grow through it, and God will be glorified in it!
Discussion Question 3: Why do people often avoid hard conversations and accountability? What are the potential dangers of not having it?
Discussion Question 4: Share a time when someone spoke into your life and helped you gain perspective and see what you were missing.
If you don’t have a mentor, ask God to reveal the right person—in your workplace, community, church, family, or friend group—and connect with them about being your Jethro! If you can’t think of anyone, please contact me at DanielS@CalvaryFTL.org.
In our next study, we’ll explore Exodus 19 as the people reach Mount Sinai.
Danny Saavedra is a licensed minister who has served on staff at Calvary since 2012, managing the Calvary Devotional and digital discipleship resources. He has a Master of Arts in Pastoral Counseling and Master of Divinity in Pastoral Ministry from Liberty Theological Seminary. His wife Stephanie, son Jude, and daughter Zoe share a love of Star Wars, good food, having friends over for dinner, and studying the Word together as a family.