"What You Are Doing Is Not Good"

What Moses and I had to learn.
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"What you are doing is not good."

Has anyone ever said that to you?

For a performance-based, people-pleaser like me, those words were painful to hear–even though they were told in love–because they were true.

Now I know how Moses must have felt when Jethro, his father-in-law, said these same words upon evaluating his leadership. Here's how their conversation went:

The next day Moses took his seat to serve as judge for the people, and they stood around him from morning till evening. When his father-in-law saw all that Moses was doing for the people, he said, "What is this you are doing for the people? Why do you alone sit as judge, while all these people stand around you from morning till evening?"

Moses answered him, "Because the people come to me to seek God's will. Whenever they have a dispute, it is brought to me, and I decide between the parties and inform them of God's decrees and instructions."

Moses' father-in-law replied, "What you are doing is not good. You and these people who come to you will only wear yourselves out. The work is too heavy for you; you cannot handle it alone." Exodus 18:13-18 (NIV)

This conversation sounds suspiciously similar to the one I had recently with Pete Wilson, the lead pastor of my church. Quick growth and multiplying campuses put me in a situation where I was directly managing 11 other staff members. Unfortunately, like Moses, I was trying to lead and manage everything, and in the process I had become worn out and frustrated with everyone.

Pete reined me in: "What you are doing is not good," he gently pointed out. Not only was it not good for me, it wasn't healthy for our team and for the health of the church. We had to make changes.

In the weeks that followed, we reorganized our staff and reduced my direct reports from 11 to 5 and empowered those leaders with more authority. In addition, we've taken some concerted steps to develop a leadership pipeline for our entire organization–from first-time volunteers to senior leadership–that allows training and development for every level of the organization.

It's easy to overextend ourselves like Moses did. When Jethro asked Moses why he was doing too much, Moses explained: "Because the people come to me to seek God's will."

Isn't that why we all do what we do? We want to lead others in God's will. But we can't do it alone.

April 13, 2011 at 12:00 PM

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