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Future Leaders: The Jethro Principle

by Pastor Chris Kumpula - July 19th, 2023

In Exodus 18, Moses is leading many thousands of Israelites and daily arbitrating disputes, sun-up to sundown, sending him towards exhaustion. Jethro tells Moses "this is not good," and that "you and the people with you will certainly wear yourselves out." (v.18) Did you notice that? Jethro encourages Moses to delegate responsibility to other leaders not just to relieve himself of the burden of leadership but also to relieve the people of the burden of constantly coming to Moses's tent! Moses was a shepherd, and that's what he was best at doing- tending to sheep. He had not become the leader with an administrative leadership style. He had to transition to an administrative leadership style because he found himself leading a large number of people.

Taking Jethro's advice, leaders were appointed for groups of people numbering 50, 100, 1000 etc. Some leaders were appointed because they could handle 50 people. Fewer were ready to lead 100 people. And the 1000 level leaders most certainly must have had roles in Egypt's slave-based engineering program to have prepared for the task. At the close of Moses's life, we see the culmination of his preparation of a 10000 level leader, Joshua, commissioning him to be the new leader of Israel for the Promised Land. Throughout Moses's time leading Israel, he and a large retinue of leaders were constantly concerned with preparing the leaders that would succeed them.

Preparing Disciples

I want to remind our leadership group of one of the five points of our current ministry strategy which is to "PREPARE Zion’s disciples," which has a great deal to do with service and leadership development. When a need comes to one of our ministry boards, the first thing we're looking for is not for one of y'all to grab the shovel or hammer. Rather, the first thing we seek to do is put the hammer and shovel in the hands of others. Any time a new need arises, we need to retrain ourselves to ask the right questions:

How do we PREPARE Zion's disciples?

  • Deepening: grow relationships - "Where can I build relationships around this task?"

  • Equipping: teach and invest - "Where can I invest a little extra time in conversation that will encourage learning and growth?"

  • Serving: enlist and serve - "How can I involve new people and empower them with real trust and responsibility?"

  • Investing: seed the future - "How can I contribute to their leadership growth towards who God is calling them to be?"

One of the critical ways we accomplish leader preparation is by delegating responsibility to clearly defined volunteer roles. Why is this important?

1. Empowering New People

Delegating real responsibility provides an excellent opportunity for newcomers to become active participants in our ministry. When we entrust them with specific roles, we show our trust in their abilities and give them a chance to contribute meaningfully. This empowerment boosts their confidence, ignites their passion, and paves the way for them to grow as leaders. They need to get used to the accountability of serving supported by other leaders.

2. Inviting Talents and Gifts

All our people have unique perspectives, experiences, and abilities that can benefit Zion's mission. Delegation allows us to make the most of these gifts by fostering an environment where everyone can contribute their strengths. The more specific the roles, the more likely an invitation to serve will be welcomed, and the greater the involvement of our church fellowship. It's likely only our best-prepared servants (often the ones already serving) will respond to a vague call for "we need help."

3. Preventing Burnout

Ministry work can be demanding, and often the burden falls on a few dedicated individuals. By delegating responsibilities, we distribute the workload and prevent board burnout. Sharing tasks among a larger team not only lightens the load but also ensures that no one person becomes overwhelmed. When the responsibilities are shared, each team member can have a healthier balance and sustain their dedication in the long run.

4. Fostering Growth and Succession

Delegation is a key component of effective succession planning. As we involve new people and delegate responsibilities, we create a pipeline for future leaders. By giving individuals opportunities to learn, take ownership, and make decisions, we equip them with the skills and experience needed for future leadership roles. This approach not only ensures the continuity of our ministry, but also fosters personal growth and development.

5. Building Stronger Relationships

Delegating responsibility encourages collaboration and teamwork. When individuals work together on specific tasks, they form deeper connections, build trust, and strengthen their relationships. By involving new people and expanding our ministry team, we create a supportive and interconnected community, united by a shared purpose. These strong relationships will contribute to the long-term sustainability and success of our ministry.

How do you think we're doing?

What new people have we involved in ministry in the last 6 months? The extent to which we engage people in service is a more important growth indicator than measuring Sunday attendance. If we cannot specifically identify new people in new leadership roles, we should be concerned. I hope each of our ministry boards is concerned with intentionally and creatively involving new people as a strategy not just for growth, but for health and sustainability. Who can you involve over the next 6 months?

On the way to Zion, Pastor Chris


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