August 28, 2016
Walking with the People of God
Organizing the Community
Part 1: Advice of Jethro: Delegation & Subsidiarity
Appointment of the minor judges (Exodus 18: 13-27)
Human beings need spiritual and social leadership. The leaders should organize the community, delegate authority, and direct the people in order to satisfy their needs. These directions, or judgments, are given according to the values and goals of the community and of God. The leaders themselves need wisdom and courage in learning how to delegate authority and give direction to the People of God.
In the Book of Exodus we read that while journeying in the desert Moses encountered his father-in-law. They greeted one another, and offering prayer and sacrifice to the Lord, ate their meal together. The next day we find Moses listening all day to the needs of the people, and making judgments for them. Jethro asked Moses why he was proceeding in this manner. Jethro, after listening to Moses response, told him he was not acting wisely. Jethro advised him not to sit alone, leaving the people to stand all day. Moses would surely become exhausted, and the people as well.
Jethro instructed Moses to select “able”, “God fearing”, and “trustworthy” leaders. They should be persons who hate “dishonest gain”. That is, they should not be corrupt. He directed that “judges” should be set over groups of a thousand, one hundred, fifty and ten. The judges should make the minor decisions. If they could not, then it would be given to the next higher authority, and if needed, eventually to Moses himself. Jethro promised that Moses would be less burdened, and that the people would go away satisfied.
The relationship between Moses and his father-in-law was one of profound respect. Moses was charged with leading the People of Israel. Jethro recommends a process in a direct, logical, and practical manner. Moses needed to learn how to delegate, or he would become overwhelmed by the burden of so many people.
In our own time, we should support one another as a spiritual team so as not be become too exhausted to assist the community. Jethro recommends delegation to Moses, and this is applicable to our own time. We see that Moses is told to teach the leaders, and show them how to do their work. Moses is then to select them according their capability and wisdom. The system of subsidiarity that is devised of judges over larger to smaller groups makes the leaders responsible to a higher authority. The notion that some cases would require the higher leader to respond, involves directing the community. The result of this process would be for the “common good” of the community. We should listen to wisdom and act on it, just as Moses did.
· How do we know wisdom, and do we listen to it and act
· Do we attempt to do things only by ourselves, or do we choose appropriate support?
· How do we discern who is an able, God fearing and trustworthy leader?
· How do we know what is a minor and what is a major decision? Do we utilize the principle of subsidiarity?
Composed by Fr. Bruce Bradley, Pastor
St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Church, Plano, Texas
August 28, 2016
This is the second of a series based on verses in Exodus 18, Numbers 11, and Luke 9 & 10, that will be appearing over the following weeks.