One of my other weaknesses is I like to “own” things. Not in the sense of owning a car or owning a set of baseball cards, but as in owning tasks and responsibilities. I tend to find it difficult to let a task go to someone else. Part of it goes back to that old cliche that of wanting something done right I need to do it myself. That’s something most of us believe, whether we’re willing to admit it or not. But the truth of the matter is we can’t do it all. Not only that, but by trying to do everything, we end up doing worse overall than if we willing give up some tasks to others. Another concern is that while I can delegate a task to another to do, I can’t delegate the responsibility. So if the other person doesn’t do the task, or doesn’t do it well, ultimately I’m the one that has to answer for it. This isn’t a valid excuse for holding onto something unnecessarily. Rather, it requires one to be a bit wiser about who one trusts and also a bit diligent in ensuring that important tasks are actually getting done. Because again, by holding on to everything, everything suffers.
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. Listen now to me and I will give you some advice, and may God be with you. You must be the people’s representative before God and bring their disputes to him. Teach them the decrees and laws, and show them the way to live and the duties they are to perform. But select capable men from all the people—men who fear God, trustworthy men who hate dishonest gain—and appoint them as officials over thousands, hundreds, fifties and tens. Have them serve as judges for the people at all times, but have them bring every difficult case to you; the simple cases they can decide themselves. That will make your load lighter, because they will share it with you. If you do this and God so commands, you will be able to stand the strain, and all these people will go home satisfied.” – Exodus 18:17-23, NIV
Moses had a lot of responsibilities on his shoulders. Some were shared with his brother Aaron, but the lion’s share were all on Moses. And Moses was plugging away, trying to be all things to all people but all wasn’t well. His father-in-law saw the situation and decided to pull Moses aside. His advice was simple: you can’t do it all, so find good men to help you before you burn out and everyone suffers for it.Moses certainly was feeling the strain. Because we know from the next few verses that Moses heeded Jethro’s words and started delegating some of the duties. While ultimately they rolled back to Moses, more people were there to take on the overall work load.
As we go into the new year, we need to take a good look at what we should be doing and what we need to be asking for help with. If we’re too prideful to ask for help, we’re going to pay for it. If we can’t learn to trust others, we’re going to pay for it. And if we’re afraid to ask for help, we’re going to pay for it. And not only are we going to pay for it, but those around us are going to as well. So we need to be ready to ask for help when we need it, and be willing to trust those folks whom we ask. Otherwise, we’ll face the strain and we’ll burn out. And that does no one any good. If you’re not sure what to ask for help on and who to ask, let me suggest starting by taking this problem to God. He has perfect wisdom and knowledge. And He knows who will be able to help us, who we can count on to come through, and what will be better served by handing over to someone else. Just as we have to be sure about asking other folks for help, we must be sure about asking God, too.