When Moses’ father in law Jethro came to visit him, he saw the obvious. Moses had too much work and very little help. Perhaps that is the story of many pastors around this country. Jethro obviously cared about Moses, so he decided to give him an advice. In Exodus 18:21-22 we see Jethro’s documented advice to Moses; advice that still carries some weight today.
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. 22 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. (NIV)
Jethro told Moses to find men who 1) fear God, 2) who were capable, 3) who were trustworthy and 4) men who hated dishonest gain. Sounds like great advice to anybody; however, this advice is lacking a fundamental ingredient.
Let’s look at the word Capable. Capable is the Hebrew word, ḥayil: meaning “strength and influence.” The problem is not necessarily the capable men, the problem is the way many pastors are going about choosing these capable men. Many pastors adapt the mentality of, “it is all about who you know” and developing networks. The problem is that those networks are not based on true relationships, but on what can be gained.
You see it in conferences; everybody wants a piece of the big leaders, the pastors with the big congregations, the big buildings, etc. Everybody is networking to advance their ministry. That is why so many churches end up sounding like car salesmen; they have to constantly sell the church vision to the people and keep them excited. They feel that the vision of the church must constantly be in our faces. In a way, the Coronavirus is showing us the truth concerning the quality of our ministries. Perhaps we are witnessing that many people came to our churches for the show, not for God, and perhaps we assumed that those folks were saved when they were not.
I am here to tell you that, biblically speaking, if you have a heart to advance the vision God has given you, Jethro’s advice alone is not going to get you there; not even close! That advise, as good as it may sound, will fail you as much as it failed Moses. The fruit of Jethro’s advice is clearly seen in Numbers 11:14-15 when Moses stated,
I cannot carry all these people by myself; the burden is too heavy for me.15 If this is how you are going to treat me, please go ahead and kill me—if I have found favor in your eyes—and do not let me face my own ruin.” (NIV)
Why was Moses feeling so alone? Why was he carrying the burden by himself? Why was Moses suicidal? What happens with all that capable help that Jethro recommended? These are the words of a person who is beyond burned-out. In numbers 11:16-17 we see God responding with more advice…the Godly advice,
The Lord said to Moses: “Bring me seventy of Israel’s elders who are known to you as leaders and officials among the people. Have them come to the tent of meeting, that they may stand there with you. 17 I will come down and speak with you there, and I will take some of the power of the Spirit that is on you and put it on them. They will share the burden of the people with you so that you will not have to carry it alone. Numbers 11:16-17 (NIV)
Beloved, there is nothing wrong with surrounding ourselves with men who fear God, who are capable and who are trustworthy. However, it does not matter how talented the people around you are. If they don’t have your spirit, they don’t have your vision. If they don’t have your vision you are left with a division and, with a division nothing is accomplished. In verse 17 we see the key of the matter, “They will share the burden of the people with you so that you will not have to carry it alone.” As pastors you can have great elders in your church, but if they don’t share your burden, you will be the only one fulfilling First Peter 5:1-4.
Jethro’s advice was good. After all, God told Moses to choose from amongst the elders that already existed. However, Jethro’s advice needed the supernatural intervention of God. No matter the talent and no matter the degrees of the men around you; if those men do not share your burden, you will end up carrying the burden by yourself. If you are the only one carrying the burden of your ministry, you will not be able to advance the vision God has for you.
Capable men without God’s divine intervention will bring you down. They will not be with you; they will be competing against you. They will be trying to show they can do it better than you; constantly pointing out at your mistakes but lacking the wisdom to give you Godly advice. Capable men without God’s divine intervention are filled with selfish agendas; they will be there for different motives, but never the right motive.
In conclusion, wait on the Lord, he will show you those men who are divinely called to be around you for the realization of the vision God has for you, they will be there just as passionate as you are to help you carry the burden of your ministry. Wait on the Lord as he blesses you with men who are beyond capable.
 Warren Baker and Eugene E. Carpenter, The Complete Word Study Dictionary: Old Testament (Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 2003), 334.