“You will wear yourselves out...”

It hit me hard yesterday morning…again!

We’re all familiar with Moses’ visit with his father-in-law, Jethro, following God’s rescue of Israel through the Red Sea. Jethro rejoices when Moses tells of God’s mighty acts on behalf of His people. But the next day, when he sees Moses, from sun up to sun down, singlehandedly sorting through every complaint and dispute, he knows it’s time to have a little talk with the father of his grandkids. Exodus 18:18 is one verse, but it contains two sentences. The first: “You and the people with you will certainly wear yourselves out, for the thing is too heavy for you.” I’d always focused on Moses as the one getting worn-out and burned-out; he’s the leader after all, and the people are just standing around waiting in line to have their disputes settled. But Jethro says that this will wear the people out too, not just Moses. That’s true isn’t it; in our contexts, burn-out can also come in the form of boredom. People want to be part of a community where they feel listened to and cared for, but they also want to be part of a community where they feel valued and like they can make a valuable contribution for the greater good (most people, that is).

The next sentence in v. 18 says: “You are not able to do it alone.” Good words from ol’ Jethro! But hard words for leaders to hear. Often as leaders we get our worth-load from our work-load, and in doing so we fail to empower and deploy the very people God has given us for help in building up the community. It’s subtle, but this arrangement puts us too much at the center of things; it overvalues ourselves and undervalues the other resources God has placed in His community to keep it moving toward His goal of being a light to the nations.

Granted, none of us is leading 3 million people through a desert. But don’t be fooled, just because you’re shepherding 300 or 30 people, if you’re trying to do it all and assuming “Well, I’m the leader, so I guess it’s my job,” you’re headed for a burn-out breakdown—and so are your people, however many or few you’re leading. Empower. Share. Develop and deploy the people God has given you to care for the community so that everyone is rightly valued and able to contribute most effectively.

Hey welcome to the new ClevelandHope.com! This refreshed website for our association is a case-in-point of the above devotional. I am so thankful to Chris Schwab for seeing the need and working to get things into shape. As we move forward I hope this site will become more and more useful to you and your churches as a resource connector!

I’m writing this morning from Alpharetta, GA where I and 250 fellow associational leaders are participating in the RePlant Lab, an intensive training experience equipping us to help churches in need of deep change and transition in order to have fresh gospel impact on the future.

I hope you’ll take some time and look around our new website. I especially want you to visit the Events page for a few reminders about upcoming fellowship and networking opportunities.

Have a blessed day as you serve (and share) in the Lord’s work!