WILDERNESS: Why We Need Jethros in Our Lives


May 1, 2020

Exodus 18:13-27 (NIV)

13 The next day Moses took his seat to serve as judge for the people, and they stood around him from morning till evening. 14 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?”

15 Moses answered him, “Because the people come to me to seek God’s will. 16 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.”

17 Moses’ father-in-law replied, “What you are doing is not good. 18 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. 19 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. 20 Teach them his decrees and instructions, and show them the way they are to live and how they are to behave. 21 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. 23 If you do this and God so commands, you will be able to stand the strain, and all these people will go home satisfied.”

24 Moses listened to his father-in-law and did everything he said. 25 He chose capable men from all Israel and made them leaders of the people, officials over thousands, hundreds, fifties and tens. 26 They served as judges for the people at all times. The difficult cases they brought to Moses, but the simple ones they decided themselves.

27 Then Moses sent his father-in-law on his way, and Jethro returned to his own country.


Jethro is one great father-in-Law. Yesterday he was a powerful prophetic witness to the one true and living God. Today he is an executive coach! 

Wisdom can be hard to come by in the wilderness, but when it comes it is oh so practical.

18 Moses’ father-in-law replied, “What you are doing is not good. 18 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. 19 Listen now to me and I will give you some advice, and may God be with you.

So the advice is pretty straightforward and doesn’t need further explanation. It can be brought down to a single word: delegate. Despite how obvious it appears to the onlooker, it was not apparent to Moses. That’s the observation I want to make here. We all find ourselves deeply immersed in our particular lives and contexts. We are so deep in, it can be hard to see even the most obvious things; not like Joe Exotic deep, but you get the point.  We all need a Jethro or three in our lives. We need people who are close enough to us and know us sufficiently well to feel the freedom and permission to say, ““What you are doing is not good.” We need the kind of “elders” in our lives who love us enough both to encourage us and also to tell us we are doing it wrong.

I’m in a discipleship band with two such “elders” in my life. I call them my Mighty Men Band. We meet every other week early on Thursday mornings. I first met Paul Baddour (and his wife, Jane) twenty five years ago when I was a seminary student at Asbury Seminary in Kentucky. His daughter was one of my classmates. We had a lot in common and struck up a friendship right off the bat. We have talked on the phone almost every day for the past twenty years. He is a mentor, coach, friend, advisor, confidant, and straight-talking truth teller. I met Bill Johnson (and Phyllis) almost twenty years ago, admired him from a near distance for a decade and the last ten years have led us deeper and deeper into the bonds of a friendship anchored in the Kingdom of Jesus. He is without a doubt one of the most brilliant minds and clearest thinkers I have ever known. And for better or worse, I never have to wonder what he thinks. Both of these men are Jethros in my life. Twenty years my senior, they are steeped in the stature, wisdom and favor of God. They have both helped me through the darkest days of my life in extraordinary ways, and both of them have no hesitation in speaking the truth in love to me on a regular basis. 


Father, reveal to me the deeper wisdom of your will and ways in the wilderness. Thank you for the Jethros in our lives. We pray for their tribe to increase. And we pray, in your time, that we would become such people in the lives of others. O, God, who by the light of the Holy Spirit, did instruct the hearts of the faithful, grant that by the same Holy Spirit we may be truly wise and ever enjoy his consolations, through Christ Our Lord, Amen.


Who are the Jethros in your life? Who do you serve as a Jethro in their life?  

For the Awakening,
J.D. Walt

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