What’s holding you back? Are you feeling inadequate?
You are not alone. When it comes to following Christ’s example by discipling other men, it’s easy to see my shortcomings, why I am not qualified, and use them as an excuse not to initiate. We feel inadequate because we are. But God calls us to do it anyway.
I love the example of Moses and Jethro in Exodus 18 to help remove some of these hesitations.
Most of us know Moses’ story, especially if we’ve been in the church. Or at least maybe you’ve seen the old Charlton Heston version of The Ten Commandments. Moses is one of the most “famous” Bible characters for good reason. He accomplished quite a bit.
Here are some highlights in case it’s been a while since you’ve heard the pieces of his story.
- There’s the story of his birth – saved by a Hebrew midwife, put in a basket to float downriver, only to be discovered and raised by the Pharaoh’s daughter. He grew up a well-educated royal under the nose of the man who was attempting to eliminate his people.
- He went on to murder an Egyptian after Moses discovered his own true identity as a Hebrew and witnessed his people being grossly mistreated by their Egyptian captors.
- He fled to the wilderness, basically to hide, become anonymous. It is there he uses his righteous indignation to help out a group of young women, all sisters.
- The sisters’ dad shows his appreciation by offering his daughter Zipporah to Moses as his wife. They marry, and Moses goes on to care for the man’s flocks.
- But one day, Moses has an encounter with God, the great I AM, at the burning bush.
- After a little arguing with God over whether or not he is qualified to be the one to free God’s people from the Egyptians, Moses finally complies when God agrees to let him take his brother Aaron to be the spokesman.
- They head back to Egypt to demand on God’s behalf that Pharaoh “Let My people go.” When Pharoah refuses, God proceeds to inflict ten horrible plagues on the nation ending in the final plague, the death of the firstborn males, and the Passover. Pharaoh can bear it no more and finally lets God’s people go, but not for long.
- As the children of Israel make their way into the desert, a pursuit ensues. The Egyptians are on the trail of the Hebrews until they reach the Red Sea, where God parts the waters for his people to come through safely and then allows the waters to flood back over the Egyptian armies. (Brian Autry educated us a bit on some of the incredible details of this miracle at our Noble Man Tailgate in Charlottesville.)
- As Moses led the people through the desert over the next four decades, he had other encounters with God, including receiving the Ten Commandments on Mt. Sinai. He then penned a significant portion of what becomes the Old Testament.
Wow – that’s a pretty impressive resume!
But I want to home in on one chapter in his story. During their time in the desert, Moses was settling all disputes among the Israelites. Based on the numbers we know, this was at least a couple of million people. That sounds like more than a full-time job to me.
Enter a lesser-known character, Moses’ father-in-law, Jethro. Compared to Moses’ accomplishments, Jethro had only two line-items that we know of: 1) Priest and 2) Herdsman, yet Jethro mentored Moses. As he observed how Moses judged the people from morning until night, he essentially looked at Moses and said, “This is not good! You need to fix this.”
He then proceeded to mentor him in a way that not only changed the way of life for Moses and the Israelites, but he set the tone for the judicial structure that we still have in place today, even in our nation.
“Moses’ father-in-law said to him, ‘What you are doing is not good. You and the people with you will certainly wear yourselves out, for the thing is too heavy for you. You are not able to do it alone. Now obey my voice; I will give you advice, and God be with you!”
How was Jethro, a man with more limited experience, able to offer Moses the advice that set up our modern legal system?
His example shows us two perspectives.
The Mentor’s Perspective:
Begin with what you have. Jethro knew he could help Moses, and he willingly offered his wisdom and experience to him. God wants all we have to offer. Scripture is full of examples of God rewarding and multiplying meager offerings:
- The Widow’s Offering “Many rich people put in large sums. And a poor widow came and put in two small copper coins, which make a penny.” Mark 12:41b-42
- The five loaves and two fish that fed 5,000 in Matthew 14.
- The oil and flour the widow used to feed the prophet Elijah. “And she and he and her household ate for many days. The jar of flour was not spent, neither did the jug of oil become empty, according to the word of the Lord that he spoke by Elijah.” I Kings 17:15-16
Offer what you have to God.
Jethro could have been intimidated by Moses, mistakenly presuming he had nothing to offer this accomplished younger man.
The Mentee’s Perspective:
Moses could have said thanks but no thanks, but he recognized that wisdom is from the Lord, and it translates to all areas of life. Even though Jethro had never led a nation out of slavery, he had wisdom to offer that would help someone who had.
Moses also recognized he couldn’t do it alone. In Jethro’s words, he would wear himself out – not good! He needed another man to speak into his life.
Moses could have refused to listen, arrogantly thinking he had nothing to learn from Jethro.
We aren’t supposed to do life by ourselves. Sometimes I need to speak into someone’s life, and sometimes I need another man to speak into mine. Inadequate? Yes, we will always be inadequate. But that is no excuse not to follow Jesus’ example of being a life-giver. What amazes me most is that God used Jethro to talk to Moses. He could have spoken directly to Moses just the way He had before, but he used a man this time.
Don’t allow feelings of inadequacy to stop you from reaching out to offer what you have to give. Invest in others. Build relationships. Guys like Moses are all around you, wearing themselves out and wanting to hear wisdom.