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A Sense of Timing: A Time to Quit
Leaders never quit, right? Wrong! Great leaders know when it’s time to persevere but they also know that there is a time to quit! Moses learned this lesson from his father-in-law.
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 (Exodus 18:13-21).
We often see this story as one that teaches about delegation and it is. But it is more than that. It is about Moses needing to make tradeoffs which every leader must make. It was time for Moses to quit doing some things he was doing! When is it time to quit?
It’s time to quit when the good keeps you from the best. Moses was serving the people as a judge. That’s a good thing! But Jethro said, “What you are doing is not good!” This good act of service kept Moses from doing the best. Jethro reminded him that his calling was to represent the people to God. Only Moses could do this and it was the best thing he could do. To change from the good to the best, Moses needed to quit some things. He needed a tradeoff; quit the good to focus on the best. Servant leaders are willing to give up to go up. They are willing to quit the good to focus on the best.
It’s time to quit when you are doing work others should do. Moses was doing a good job but Jethro reminds him that there are other “capable men” who could do what he was doing, especially judging the easier cases. Moses work was actually hindering the growth and development of these men! Moses needed to quit and allow them to learn to lead. Servant leaders are willing to quit what they do well for the sake of the growth of their team. They look for things that are not in their area of strength or gifting and pass them on to others. They also look at things they do well, but which others could also do well. They quit so others may begin!
It’s time to quit when you are sacrificing your health for the work. Jethro saw that Moses’ was wearing himself out! He was working from early morning to late in the evenings. Some would have applauded his sacrifice, but Jethro tells Moses that it’s time to quit! Servant leaders know that it’s time to quit when they are sacrificing their health for the work.
Servant leaders reflect on Moses’ example. They look for things they are currently doing which are outside their gifting, strengths or calling and they quit! They look for good things which keep them from their best and they quit those things! And when they recognize their bodies are suffering from the work, they find something to quit! What do you need to quit so you can move forward in your leadership?
Until next time, yours on the journey,
For further reflection and discussion:
In the next issue, we’ll examine when it’s time to sow.
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