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[Jethro said to Moses,] “What you are doing is not good… Now obey my voice; I will give you advice, and God be with you…” So Moses listened to the voice of his father-in-law and did all that he had said.
Moses was overly stretched trying to single-handedly shepherd the tens of thousands of Hebrews who had fled Egypt (some scholars think the number could have been in the millions). Moses realized that the way he was leading wasn’t sustainable and, thankfully, he had a mentor, Jethro, who could speak some sense into him!
We all would benefit from assessing the sustainability of our current pace in our work and personal life. As a pastor I’ve been blessed with a sabbatical after serving in my church for six years. I have ninety days for rest and reflection (with some doctoral work in between!) So I can re-enter the wonderful challenge of pastoring my congregation with renewed vigor. My church gives me a sabbatical to protect against the burnout that is inevitable with an unsustainable strategy like Moses had.
One of the goals of my sabbatical was to reengage with relationships that have been life giving in the past. These relationships are with people who know me and can speak into my life just as I can speak into theirs in regard to work, family, finances, ministry, leadership, and decisions in general. I’ve reached out to several of these friends and mentors and invited them to speak openly to me about how I am living and working. Largely this is done over coffee or lunch, but the difference is that I’m moving quickly through the small talk and inviting input into deeper areas of my life. It’s amazing how getting input from someone who knows you well but isn’t in your life every day can have incredible insight into various aspects of how you’re living. I’ve found that everyone I’ve spoken with has good insights to share and are willing to receive feedback on their own lives. These encounters have been mutually beneficial. They have helped me make changes in my life so that is more sustainable.
During my sabbatical, I’m trusting in a God whom I believe created me and the world to “glorify and enjoy Him forever” (Westminster Shorter Catechism). I believe he wants each of us to have sustainable lives that involve meaningful work, deep relationships, and pursuing things that matter. I hope you’ll be able to take some time to reflect with some peers and mentors on your current pace so that you can be a good leader with a long trajectory of sustainability.
QUESTIONS TO CONSIDER:
Moses had a mentor in his life (Jethro) that was close enough to evaluate Moses’ leadership sustainability. Jethro had earned the respect to speak a clear and challenging word to Moses. Do you have a mentor or person that would speak into your life if you invited her/him?
Do you think it’s sustainable to spend your life doing things you enjoy and things that matter? What are the challenges to this sustainability?
Lord, each of us were created to glorify and enjoy you. May this be the simple reality of my small life. Bring people into my life who can speak into my life, work, and leadership so that you will be glorified and I can enjoy you even more. Amen.
Explore more at the Theology of Work Project online commentary: The Work of Justice among the People of Israel (Exodus 18:1-27)
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