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Food for the Soul

Food for the Soul, devotionals to help you in your busy life, written by NEWIM board members and staff. 

Rightful Responsibility

Kim Johnson

"When Moses' father-in-law saw all that Moses was doing for the people, he asked, 'What are you really accomplishing here? Why are you trying to do all this alone while everyone stands around you from morning till evening?'"

                                                                         —Exodus 18:14 (NLT)

When it comes to serving the Lord, many Christians are passionate in their pursuit to advance His Kingdom. Often this passion to please can cause these crusaders to take on responsibilities God never intended them to have. For leaders, this can be an even bigger problem. We love God and we love the people under our leadership, so when we see needs to be met, our first response is to do what we can to meet them. Sometimes however, those good intentions can cause more harm than good and the bigger challenge becomes determining what God does NOT want us to do.

An excellent example of this dilemma is found in Exodus 18. Moses had become painfully aware that the Israelites needed someone to help them settle disputes. After years of living as slaves and being controlled by masters, they had no idea how to live together as people of God, so Moses naturally assumed it was his job as their leader to meet this need. Suddenly Moses experienced long lines of frustrated people lining up to have him hear their case. Day after day he carried the weight of his nation’s problems on his shoulders alone. Since he was their leader it must be his job.

Then one day Moses’ father-in-law witnessed what was happening and immediately questioned the wisdom of Moses’ actions. It was clear Moses had taken on more than he could handle. At the very least it was a disservice to his people since the issues could be heard and resolved more quickly if he had help. Not only that, perhaps there was someone else God wanted to use in this capacity. By going it alone, Moses was robbing that person of an opportunity to serve.

Willingness to serve the Lord whenever possible is a natural response as leaders. Yet that desire cannot supersede the discernment of knowing God’s will for our involvement in a certain area of ministry. Even if a need remains unmet, we cannot automatically assume it is our responsibility to step in. As difficult as it is to wait on the Lord’s timing, we must, or we run the risk of hindering His will for the situation, for someone else and even for ourselves. As we seek to identify God’s will in our lives, it is just as important to recognize what His will is not. The wisdom is knowing the difference. 

             To walk out of His will is to walk into nowhere.     

                                                                                    —C. S. Lewis