Delegation, Jethro-style.

Ever feel like this poor guy? Boy I do. After a week’s vacation touring around Ontario with the family, I’m desperately trying to get my head back into work. There’s a TON to do, and I hate that feeling of being overwhelmed by how much is in front of me. I’ve got a number of organizational tricks that help me get my work organized. I’m a big fan of “To Do” lists. I write everything I can imagine that has to be done down on paper and then prioritize the list. I also like to schedule large blocks of time on my own Outlook calendar to get individual tasks done before anyone else can book that time with a meeting (a meeting that would no doubt result in more work for me!).  But all of the organizational tasks in the world can’t substitute for occasionally asking for someone else to lend a hand.

Enter Jethro. Who is Jethro? Well, he’s Zipporah’s dad, of course. Or in other words, he’s Moses’ father-in-law who gave Moses some great advice in Exodus 18:13-22,

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 laws.”

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. Listen now to me and I will give you some advice, and may God be with you. You must be the people’s representative before God and bring their disputes to him. Teach them the decrees and laws, and show them the way to live and the duties they are to perform. But select capable men from all the people-men who fear God, trustworthy men who hate dishonest gain-and appoint them as officials over thousands, hundreds, fifties and tens. Have them serve as judges for the people at all times, but have them bring every difficult case to you; the simple cases they can decide themselves. That will make your load lighter, because they will share it with you. If you do this and God so commands, you will be able to stand the strain, and all these people will go home satisfied.”

Moses successfully took Jethro’s advice and began delegating work to capable helpers. I can only imagine how tough that must have been, given that he was the sole appointed leader of the Israelites and accountable to God for their choices. But God spoke through Jethro and Moses learned that no man is an island. As the scriptures say,

Two are better than one,
because they have a good return for their work:
If one falls down,
his friend can help him up.
But pity the man who falls
and has no one to help him up! (Ecc 4:9-10)

Whether its at work or at home, watching the kids or finalizing an engineering specification, there are times when we need to reach out to friends or coworkers and ask for help. If Moses can do it, we shouldn’t let our pride get in the way. When the work is overwhelming, we can’t afford to kid oursleves – individual heroics are for Rambo, not for most of us who occasionally need a helping hand. Even the Lone Ranger had Tonto. 

3 Responses

  1. Sorry to hear about the Post Vacation Stress Disorder (PVSD). That is always a drag.

    Good advice about delegating. I have found that to be a key success factor for good results at work and especially for work/life balance. You need to use some discernment about who you can delegate to and then you need to be very clear about expectations, timing, roles & responsibilities. But with a little effort it works like magic.

  2. I so needed to hear this. Thanks for the reminder. Who knew how overwhelming it can feel to prep a house and a pair of lives for a little person who will weigh less than 10 lbs (oh, God, pllllleeeease be WAY less than 10 lbs)?

  3. I delegate to you the job of talking Jill out of getting that adorable dog she posted on her blog. That dog would result in too much work for Me??!!!!

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