One of the wonderful stories in the Hebrew Bible tells us about the time that Moses’ father-in-law, Jethro, came for a visit. He stayed a few days and watched Moses do his work. At the time of this visit, that work mostly involved Moses being judge for the people – the only judge for the people. He answered their questions and made hard decisions for them from morning until evening. Apparently this was entertaining because the story tells us that the people stood around Moses from morning until evening watching him work.
Jethro gave Moses a pointed appraisal of what he saw happening. He asked him why he sits alone while the people stand around him. He said, “This is not good! You will wear yourself out, both you and these people with you. The task is too heavy for you. You can’t do it alone.”
And Jethro gave Moses some good advice. He told him to get the people involved – to train them to do the work that they were very capable of doing themselves so that he could endure. Moses listened, he trained leaders who took a lot of the burden from him and shared leadership with him. Moses was able to lead better when he shared the responsibilities with others.
Today we have a name for what Moses was doing. He was over-functioning. That can be a trap we all fall into. Sometimes it is just easier to do tasks ourselves than it is to teach someone else to do them. Sometimes we don’t trust that anyone else can do a task as well as we can, so we do it ourselves. Sometimes we like being the one with all of the attention and all of the power so we don’t let anyone help us. Sometimes we don’t know how to ask for help. We don’t want to disappoint others so we keep saying yes. But then, we start feeling like nobody cares that we are doing EVERYTHING by ourselves. We want someone to notice that we are doing all of this work and we want someone to intervene and tell others to HELP US!
If this sounds like you, take a deep breath, give yourself a break and remember Jethro’s good advice, “this is not good. You will wear yourself out, both you and these people with you. The task is too heavy for you. You can’t do it alone.” You have gifts to share and an important role to play every day, and so does everyone else. Look around for the people you can share responsibility and leadership with. Pass on your wisdom so that others in your life can also shine and lead.