Jethro’s First Rule of Management

September 5, 2018

Delegation is the assignment of any responsibility or authority to another person to carry out specific activities. It is one of the core concepts of management leadership.

People are often surprised to discover that the first rule of management—delegate— was spoken almost 3,500 years ago by a Midian priest, Jethro, and the father-in-law of Moses. Observing Moses judging the Israelites from morning to night, Jethro offered this advice: “This micromanagement needs to stop, or you and the people will only wear yourselves out. Delegate the tasks to capable men as judges over thousands, hundreds, the fifties, and ten. Let these judges share your load. Only accept the difficult cases, but delegate the simple ones to your appointees.”

Moses knew he was in the end, responsible for the decisions made. God, alone, made him responsible for leading the Israelites to the Promised Land.

Exodus 20

20 You should explain God’s laws and teachings to the people. Warn them not to break the laws. Tell them the right way to live and what they should do.

21 But you should also choose some of the people to be judges and leaders. “Choose good men you can trust—men who respect God. Choose men who will not change their decisions for money. Make these men rulers over the people. There should be rulers over 1000 people, 100 people, 50 people, and even over ten people.

22 Let these rulers judge the people. If there is a significant case, then they can come to you and let you decide what to do. But they can choose the other instances themselves. In this way, these men will share your work with you, and it will be easier for you to lead the people.

 23 If you do this as God directs you, then you will be able to do your job without tiring yourself out.

I believe that many pastors and church leaders will benefit by following Jethro’s advice and choose good men and women you can trust—men and women who respect God and want to introduce more people to Jesus.

By involving the staff, church leaders, and responsible Christian church members, the pastor can get various inputs and often buy-in.