The work is too heavy for you; you cannot handle it alone. Exodus 18:18
While attending seminary, I was working full-time. Add to that a chaplaincy rotation and an internship at a church. I was busy. When my father visited me, he said, “You’re going to have a breakdown.” I shrugged off his warning thinking he was of another generation and didn’t understand goal-setting.
I didn’t have a breakdown. But I did experience a very rough, dry season in which I fell into depression. Since then, I’ve learned to listen to warnings—especially from loved ones—more carefully.
That reminds me of Moses’ story. He too was diligently working, serving as Israel’s judge (Exodus 18:13). Yet he chose to listen to his father-in-law’s warning (vv. 17–18). Jethro wasn’t in the thick of things, but he loved Moses and his family and could see trouble ahead. Perhaps that’s why Moses was able to listen to Jethro and heed his advice. Moses set up a system for “capable men from all the people” to take on the smaller disputes, and he took the more difficult cases (vv. 21–22). Because he listened to Jethro, rearranged his work, and entrusted others to shoulder the load, he was able to avoid burnout during that season of life.
Many of us take our work for God, our families, and others seriously—passionately even. But we still need to heed the advice of trusted loved ones and to rely on the wisdom and power of God in all we do.
By Katara Patton
REFLECT & PRAY
Whose voice can you trust to remind you to serve wisely? What mechanisms do you have in place to avoid burnout? When did you implement them last?
Almighty God, thank You for allowing me to serve You in many ways. As I passionately care for others, teach me to also work wisely so that I’ll have energy to do what You want me to do.
Jethro’s advice to Moses in Exodus 18:13–26 came at a strategic time. At the age of eighty (see Acts 7:23, 30), Moses had spent the previous forty years in relative isolation and anonymity in the Midian desert. Now he found himself the leader of a massive extended family numbering perhaps in the millions—a far cry from watching his father-in-law’s sheep. With the Red Sea behind them and Mount Sinai before them, this was the ideal time for Jethro’s counsel. With the provision of the Law as Israel’s national constitution, additional layers of leadership would be extremely valuable to Moses and to the people he led.