Successful people in all walks of life tend to practice the art of delegation. Pierre Nanterme, the chairman and CEO of Accenture, a global firm of management consultancy, has this to say about his success strategy, “The art of leadership is not to spend your time measuring [and] evaluating. It is all about selecting the person. And if you believe you selected the right person, then you give that person the freedom, the authority, the delegation to innovate and to lead…” Nevertheless, not all great leaders have this important clue regarding successful administration. Moses was a case in point.
Jethro, the father-in-law of Moses heard about the miraculous liberation of Israel from Egypt and he wanted to visit Moses. Jethro also brought Moses’ wife and children back to Moses. We do not know the exact reason why Moses sent his wife to her parents’ home. May be Moses did not want to put his family in trouble which he was going to face in Egypt. Or it may be that Zipporah, Moses’ wife was frightened by the incident that happened on their way to Egypt (Exodus 4:24 where God came to kill Moses) and decided to leave Moses. In any case, Jethro initially supported her by receiving her into his home and later promptly sending her back to her husband.
Gershom and Eliezer were the names of the sons of Moses. The meaning of these names are remarkable. Gershom means, “alien.” In fact, by naming his son Gershon, Moses was making his son a reminder of his own situation. In Midian and in Egypt Moses considered himself a foreigner. Gershon is a reminder to all of us that we all are aliens in this land. As foreigners we will never be able to feel at home here on this earth. Moses never tried to settle in Egypt even when he had a royal life at his disposal. Rather than compromising with an oppressive system for his personal benefits including perhaps the imperial throne, Moses opted to fight for the rights of his people, forfeiting even the security of his own life. Gershon reminds us that too much friendship and closeness with this world and its princes come at the price of our faith, morals and values.
Moses’ second son, Eliezer, meaning God helps, gives hope and comfort in this world where we feel uneasy and unfit. In our struggle in this world to follow our God and the values of his kingdom, we are not left alone. We are “Eliezers,” a people whom God helps. It is this strong faith in the divine help that empowers us to fight for justice and freedom, and to make a new way to begin a new journey in a new direction.
When Jethro, Moses’ father in law visited Moses he saw Moses adjudicating the cases of the people. It is heartening to see that as a leader Moses considered it very important to dispense justice. The scriptural text makes it clear that Moses was making the will of God known to the people by explicating the real meaning of the Word of God in their differing contexts.
It seems that Moses was acting as the judge of the people the entire day and every day. Evidently, it was an exhausting work. It exhausted both Moses and the people. Moses was exhausted because he had to settle numerous cases all by himself. People were also exhausted through long waiting for their turn. We do not know what prompted Moses to do this time-consuming job all by himself. Some people want to do everything by themselves. They think that they only can do things right. Some other people are overzealous and they are ready to burn out than rust out.
Jethro advised Moses to delegate his duty to people who are God-fearing, capable, trustworthy and honest. Interestingly, Moses could find such a man of noble character among every ten people in Israel! Delegation is not only an effective administrative strategy, it is also a means to recognize people for what they are.
We do not know why God did not give this advice directly to Moses. The answer may be that most of the times God Himself delegates His duties to our relatives, friends and foes who are bold to correct us. Like Moses, we need to be listening and receptive to corrections no matter how big we are.