This is part two of a look at mentoring lessons from Jethro and Moses. We already observed that: 1) the foundation of mentoring is a close relationship, 2) the only way a mentoring relationship will work is for there to be transparency, and 3) the mentor must genuinely desire the best for his protégé.
Here are two more lessons about mentoring that I think we can see from these men:
First, mentors make positive investments in the lives of those they are mentoring (Exodus 18:13-23).
Moses’ leadership lacked. He was a fairly new leader. He led Israel well in times of crisis, but he was not so good at overseeing the day-to-day affairs of the people. Moses had to learn that different seasons of leadership require different leadership skills. A mentor is there to help continue developing those he is training.
Moses tried to do everything himself (18:13) He did all the judging. We are not sure why. Maybe it was a lack of trust. Maybe it was ignorance or overestimating his own importance. Whatever the reason, he thought he was doing right (18:15-16). Like we often do, he made many spiritual excuses for why he was not training and mentoring others.
Jethro helped Moses develop as a leader and trainer of others. He questioned Moses’ method (18:14). He then pointed out why his method was not good (18:17-18). It was not good for Moses because he was going to wear away. It was not good for the people because they had to wait all day. It was not good for the work of God because his trying to do everything was actually hindering the effectiveness of God’s people.
Jehtro offered wise counsel (18:19-23). He did not suggest that Moses stop judging, stop being a representative of the people to God, stop being God’s spokesman to the people, or stop teaching the people God’s laws and how to live (v.19-20). Jethro came up with a very helpful, practical solution (v.21-22). He told him to choose out of the people able men of character who could help and to let these men help with the judging. As a result of Jethro’s counsel, things were easier for Moses and the people were better served (v.22-23).
If we are going to mentor others, we must be committed to positively investing in others. It is not about using people to build our ministry; it is about using our ministry to build people. Mentoring only works that way.
Second, mentoring is only possible if we are teachable (Exodus 18:24-26).
Moses hearkened to the voice of his father-in-law! There were many reasons, he might have not listened:
- Moses had already been greatly used by God.
- Moses was already leading a huge amount of people.
- Moses could have thought, “You are just my father-in-law, what do you know?”
- Moses could resisting letting others get involved and losing control.
Moses was known for his meekness and humility (Numbers 2:3). The fact that he listened to his father-in-law and took his advice shows teachability. Moses did not think he had arrived or that he did not need any help.
Moses followed Jethro’s advice to the letter. He hearkened and did all that Jethro said. He chose able men out of Israel and set up heads over the people.
Often we complain about not having a mentor, but mentoring will only work if someone is willing to be taught!