Okay, kidding a bit, because I absolutely believe the Bible has something to say to me. But today I was reading Exodus 18(yes, I’m a little behind, still working to catch up with the group), and after all those plagues earlier on, and a feeling of disconnection from the so-familiar story of Moses and Pharoah, I was surprised to read something that hit me right between the eyes.
The next day Moses sat as judge for the people, while the people stood around him from morning until evening. When Moses’ father-in-law saw all that he was doing for the people, he said, “What is this that you are doing for the people? Why do you sit alone, while all the people stand around you from morning until evening?” Moses said to his father-in-law, “Because the people come to me to inquire of God. When they have a dispute, they come to me and I decide between one person and another, and I make known to them the statutes and instructions of God.” Moses’ father-in-law said to him, “What you are doing is not good. You will surely wear yourself out, both you and these people with you. For the task is too heavy for you; you cannot do it alone. Now listen to me. I will give you counsel, and God be with you! You should represent the people before God, and you should bring their cases before God; teach them the statutes and instructions and make known to them the way they are to go and the things they are to do. You should also look for able men among all the people, men who fear God, are trustworthy, and hate dishonest gain; set such men over them as officers over thousands, hundreds, fifties and tens. Let them sit as judges for the people at all times; let them bring every important case to you, but decide every minor case themselves. So it will be easier for you, and they will bear the burden with you. If you do this, and God so commands you, then you will be able to endure, and all these people will go to their home in peace.” (Exodus 18:13-23, NRSV)
One of the things I have found tricky about coming to pastoral ministry as a mother is my impatience with delegating tasks I know I can accomplish more quickly myself. And there is also the seductive lure of believing I know better, since I am the one with training and gifts and skills…and eventually craziness, from trying to do too many things and be too many people all at the same time.
A wise woman I admire greatly once described her hopes for a colleague, that the colleague might “learn how to do less.” I feel such a need to read more and write more, and I look around the work part of my life and see so many commitments, all interesting, but all encroaching on that time for developing the inner life, for doing “self-care,” for making those nursing home calls with the regularity I would like.
Thank you, Jethro, father-in-law of Moses, for putting it so clearly!