September 24, 2023 | Doug Sauder
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“The next day Moses took his seat to serve as judge for the people, and they stood around him from morning till evening. 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?’ Moses answered him, ‘Because the people come to me to seek God’s will. Whenever they have a dispute, it is brought to me, and I decide between the parties and inform them of God’s decrees and instructions.’ Moses’ father-in-law replied, ‘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.’”—Exodus 18:13–18 (NIV)
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? Once zoomed out, you can tell that odd little cluster of pixels was actually part of a beautiful family portrait.
I’ve come to realize I constantly view my own life like an extreme close-up of a larger photo. Often times I become so granular, zoomed in, and short-sighted. My mind becomes so narrowed I can’t see the potential dangers, gaps, struggles, and sinfulness, nor can I identify the solutions. I need someone to help me “zoom out” and see the bigger picture, to gain greater perspective, discover the truth, and find the best way forward.
Today, as we continue to look at Jethro’s visit, we’ll discover some powerful, profound, and vital benefits that come with having a mentor/discipler in our lives: accountability, hard truths, and wise counsel.
In today’s passage, we see Moses work from dawn until late in the evening—and Jethro saw a gap Moses didn’t see. After seeing all Moses did for the people, Jethro says, “Why do you alone sit as judge, while all these people stand around you from morning till evening?’” 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 Moses couldn’t see. He saw Moses burning the candle at both ends, shouldering too much responsibility, and having too many expectations placed upon him. He saw burnout in Moses’ future. So, he had a hard conversation, entered into a hard space alongside his mentee and, as we’ll see tomorrow, offered wise counsel to help Moses honor the Lord and take the necessary steps that would be better for himself and everyone.
Now, here’s something to remember: Moses was more than 80 years old at the time. This 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, 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 we talked about yesterday.
Is it uncomfortable sometimes? Yes, absolutely. But, friends, the benefits that come from having someone who is willing to step into these spaces 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!
Pause: Why do people often avoid hard conversations and accountability? What is the benefit that comes with such relationships? What are the potential dangers of not having it?
Practice: If you don’t have a mentor like this, 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.
Pray: Father, surround me with people who love You, serve You, seek Your wisdom and truth, and are willing to step into hard spaces with me. Help me establish good, godly community that honors You, glorifies You, and draws other to You. Amen.
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.