How To Become Powerful (Exodus 18)


There is nothing more intoxicating than power. There is nothing more fascinating than those who have it. If not, why would people fight over positions as unimpressive as those on a school or church board? If not, why, from Shakespeare down through the years, have we loved stories about people who rise to power and then fall from grace? It’s fun and weird and compelling to gaze upward at those who can make things happen, creating stories about how they got there and how long they’ll stay. But how fun is it being the one at the top of the pyramid?

Perhaps Moses could answer that question better than anyone – unlike the Cabinets and Houses and Courts of today, Moses was all alone leading the children of Israel. And it wasn’t easy. Not only were the Israelites frequently cranky, but Moses had, up to this point, been without his wife and children. Imagine how much he missed them!

Thankfully, all of that was about to change (well, maybe not the cranky Israelites part) with the visit of Jethro, Moses’s father-in-law. Jethro brought with him Moses’s family, praise for Moses’s God, and advice for the man himself. Jethro saw God’s fingerprints all over the Israelites’ story (verses 10-12). He also saw that Moses was under a lot of pressure, especially dealing with the many quibbles and complaints of the people. He suggested Moses delegate the smaller of his responsibilities to, well, a Cabinet or House or Court of his own. Moses followed his father-in-law’s advice and saved himself time and effort. And just in time, too – Moses was about to need it.

The Treasures Within:

Leadership For Dummies

They say power corrupts, but apparently, this was not true for Moses. Despite leading a nation all on his own, despite essentially saving the lives of everyone who was following him (several times, as we’ll see), despite being the person everyone looked to for guidance and direction, Moses was not prideful. Would a prideful person take advice from a newcomer, waltzing up to tell them what to do? There are world leaders right now who would have told Jethro to mind his own business. But Moses recognized a good idea, even one that he hadn’t come up with already, and was humble enough to implement it.

Yes, good leaders listen to good advice. But great leaders, Godly leaders, successful leaders take it a step further. Not only do they listen, but they ask. Rather than banking on their own pluck and intelligence, they ask for direction from the One who has every direction. Like Moses, who communicated God’s will to the people, not his own (verses 15-16), a wonderful leader will obey the Almighty God at every step. Like Jethro, who suggested Moses seek God’s will first and foremost (verse 23), an outstanding leader will not do anything without running it by Jesus. And like Moses, whose efforts were blessed by God, a top-tier leader will see incredible things happen when they trust in the Lord.

The End Goal

Yet the power a leader has is not just for power’s sake. That’s exactly why it goes wrong so many times. When God calls and equips a leader, He does it for a reason. When God calls you to lead, whether you’re leading a family, a community, or a country, He has called you for a reason. Moses was called to do great things – save God’s people from slavery, lead the Israelite army to defeat the corrupt and dangerous kingdoms surrounding them – but also seemingly simple things, like witness to his father-in-law.

Jethro’s heart was touched by seeing what God had equipped Moses to do for His people. He couldn’t help but praise and worship that incredible God. He saw God in a new light (verse 11) and thus believed. Ages before, when God called Moses at the burning bush, this was what He had in mind. He was thinking of Jethro and the change that would take place in his heart. When God called you, who was He thinking of? What heart was He planning on reaching? What love was He planning on inspiring? There is always at least one person, because that’s always what power is for. Leadership, power, and influence are gifts from God, used through God, to do God’s wonders.

God’s Message To Us:

“I am your leader”. No matter what the moral of the latest story on power is or what that voice that hypes us up on our good days whispers, power and leadership is not about you. It’s not supposed to be an ego-booster, the zenith of accomplishment, or something to shove in your haters’ faces. Leadership is service. It is humility. It is sacrifice. It is surrender and submission and it is not easy. But it is worth something so much more beautiful than what we originally thought. Working with God and for God is an illuminating, moving, rewarding ride. But we will only experience this if we humble ourselves and follow Him. At the end of the day, there is just one Person at the top of the pyramid and it is our Father. Knowing that is more powerful than anything.

What do you think? What strikes you about Moses’s leadership in this chapter? What did God want you to get from this chapter of the Bible?

One thought on “How To Become Powerful (Exodus 18)

  1. It is true that power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Moses’ secret was that he was the meekest man on earth. He did not consider himself the leader of the Children of Israel. He knew that God was their leader, and Moses followed God’s directions. That’s why he was not corrupted. He did not take the power unto himself.


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