A Lesson on Boundaries and Work from Jethro and Moses

Exodus 18:  Lesson on Moses, Jethro, and Boundaries in Leadership/Work
For years I have taught Boundaries class from the book of the same name by Cloud and Townsend.  In Chapter 11 on Boundaries and Work, there is a reference to Exodus 18 and the role of Jethro in helping Moses be more effective in his work as the new leader of the Hebrews after their departure from Egypt.

Today, once again, I led a group of women in discussion of this chapter in Boundaries and the chapter in Exodus.  

After we have talked about the lesson reading and reviewed several handouts about issues of God’s perspective on work, time management, of how to examine a set of questions to determine what is in one’s own best interest, and a set of “self evaluation” questions that require one to get scrupulously honest about her motives and goals, we read Exodus 18 all the way through.  Then we went back and examined it in the light of the following questions:

Where were Moses wife and children?  Why?
          With the father in law in Midian.  Because Moses had been very busy with the challenges of facing Pharoah and getting the Hebrews out of Egypt, perhaps?  Also, Moses’ wife had already had a scare when God reminded Moses that he would remove his first born if not circumcised.  

What did his father in law, Jethro do before arriving at Moses’ camp?  Why?  What might it indicate?

          He sent word ahead of his arrival
          He’s coming purposefully
          He’s respectful of Moses
          He wants some time with Moses

What evidence do we see upon arrival of Moses’ and Jethro’s respect and affection for one another?

          Moses bows to him and welcomes him.
          They spend time resting and eating together, hospitality is shown.
          They worship and Jethro celebrates what God has done in Moses’ recent success

How did Jethro approach the issue of commenting on Moses’ situation and leadership?

          Watched, asked questions and waited for answers to assure understanding

What was his reaction to hearing Moses’ explanation for how he was doing things?  Why?

          This is “not good” for you, you will wear yourself out.
          This is “not good” for the people.  No direct reason is given, but many can be inferred.  They are being taught to depend upon one person.  There is likely a long backlog to get their cases handled which can lead to dissatisfaction and complaining.  There is no leadership or maturity being developed among the people.  Others?

What guidelines did Jethro suggest?   Delegation of duties to responsible individuals according to ability based of numbers they would oversee.  Only the most important cases would find their way to Moses.  He was to teach them how to do what he had been doing alone.
What are the benefits of these suggestions to Moses?   To the people?

What actions did Moses take?

What did Jethro do then?

Who went home to Midian? 

How did these “boundaries” free Moses up to fulfill all of his roles- leader of this newly forming nation of Hebrew people, priest, husband, father, friend of God and still be able to sustain it for the following 40 years? 

It’s always interesting to do this lesson because of what they learn in personal application about work and its role in our lives and also in what they learn by closely reading and asking questions of the text.  Have I mentioned that I love what I do?