During the exodus, Moses sat from morning till night, making decisions, teaching the people, and speaking the words of God. For a nation of over a million, Moses served as judge, bureaucrat, administrator, school teacher, and figure head. It was an enormous task. Didn’t Moses realize this was he would wear himself out trying to govern alone? Didn’t he realize that a nation that size couldn’t possibly have all its legal disputes settled by one tired, old man? Either the queues to sit before him where impossibly long or Moses was making hasty judgments that were bound to contain mistakes.
It only took his father-in-law a day to see that what Moses wasn’t going to work in the long-term. There’s almost a level of incredulity in what he tells Moses after watching him that day, “What on earth are you doing?”
Moses responds the way so many of us do, “They come with problems and I have to solve them.” It’s almost like he couldn’t help it. This was God’s work after all. How could Moses neglect it? He was caught in this cycle that he didn’t know how to escape, but if he continued eventually it would lead in destruction.
Jethro saw that so he stepped in. “The thing that you do is not good. Both you and these people who are with you will surely wear yourselves out. For this thing is too much for you; you are not able to perform it by yourself. Listen now to my voice; I will give you counsel, and God will be with you.”
There are plenty of people who can offer criticism. Moses surely had heard countless times the complaints of long waits for decisions or of the mistakes he made by making those judgements too quickly. The grumbling Israelites were likely not shy with their complaints, but the complaints didn’t break Moses out of this cycle of overwork.
Jethro does more than criticize; he offers advice: “Moses, you are overworked and overworked people are not at their best, so appoint men under you to share the load.”
Criticism can come a dime a dozen. There are plenty of people who can give destructive criticism, but Jethro offered something better and he offered it in the name of God.
Find and surround yourself with people who can open your eyes to your weaknesses, not to complain, but to help you grow.