“you shall select out of all the people able men who fear God, men of truth, those who hate dishonest gain; and you shall place these over them as leaders of thousands, of hundreds, of fifties and of tens.” Exodus 18:21
Able – So, you’ve determined that you will stand against the culture of power and give away the authority God has granted you. You’ve decided that the leadership leprosy that so infects the hallways of government, corporations and the church will not seduce you into isolation. You know that God alone is King and all His people are equally priests in His kingdom. But how do you decide who shall be given the authority vested in you?
Well, Jethro has a suggestion. The first quality of those who are recipients of distributed authority is hayil (might). Do you remember the umbrella of this word (Today’s Word February 12)? “Able men” are those who put all their resources in God’s hands; that means their valor, influence, wealth, virtue and strength. But, that’s not all. God tells us that those who are truly able men demonstrate that their ability is not by might, nor by power, but by God’s Spirit. When you find people like this, invest authority in them. Give them what you’ve got. If you don’t, you’ll prevent God’s will from being accomplished in their lives.
This is hard work. First, it’s hard to give up the glory and the power. Our natural desire leans toward advantage and self-protection, but we must resist this. Just as God said to Cain, “Sin crouches at the door, ready to attack, but you must master it.” The first battle of distributed authority is internal. You must get God’s point of view on the matter.
Secondly, you are required to search out those who demonstrate complete reliability on the Spirit. These people are not always easy to find. Why? Because they do not take the credit. They are not self-proclaimers of ability and fame. They are the behind-the-scenes servers of others. By the way, that is exactly what it means to be diakonos (Greek for servant). Jesus had a lot to say about these people. They model His character. The credit goes to God. They are but unworthy servants. So, you’ll have to really look to find these kinds of “able” people.
Finally, when you are ready to give and you have discovered who is ready to receive, you will undoubtedly meet considerable resistance. “How can you suggest that person? They aren’t qualified. Just look at the resume!” The world does not recognize servants, only celebrities. Be careful. This is a dangerous step. Distributing authority to those whom the world counts for nothing will always bring conflict. You, not they, will be held in suspicion. If there is ever a moment of obedience, this is it. Remember, God grants. All you do is distribute.
Moses, the most humble man who every lived, recognizes the godly advice of Jethro. He submits to Jethro’s revelation – and let’s go of his authority. If this doesn’t remind you of the words of John the Baptist, then you aren’t thinking in Hebrew. “I must decrease so that He can increase.” That’s the motto of God’s great leaders. It should also be the watchword of those who receive authority through distribution.
Topical Index: Leadership, Character