Leaders Need Leaders (Exodus 18:21–23) - Radical

Leaders Need Leaders (Exodus 18:21–23)

Moreover, look for able men from all the people. Men who fear God, who are trustworthy and hate a bribe, and place such men over the people as chiefs of thousands, of hundreds, of fifties, and of tens. And let them judge the people at all times. Every great matter, they shall bring to you, but any small matter, they shall decide themselves, so it will be easier for you and they will bear the burden with you. If you do this, God will direct you. You will be able to endure, and all those people also will go to their place in peace.
-Exodus 18:21–23

There’s a lot we could talk about here in Exodus 18, but this is counsel that Jethro is giving to Moses as he’s trying to lead God’s people. And the clear takeaway, and it’s something we see all throughout the Bible, the clear takeaway is that no one is intended by God to lead alone. That God, yes, appoints leaders at different times among his people. Certainly, Moses was one of those leaders, and Joshua will lead after Moses and we’ll see Kings like King David and King Solomon. And we’ll see leaders in the New Testament, like John the Baptist. And we’ll see leaders in the New Testament like Peter or Paul. But what’s interesting is, we always see key people around those leaders. Also, walking with God, giving counsel, giving advice, giving encouragement, helping lead in really important ways.

We see a plurality of leadership. It’s interesting when you look at the description of elders in the New Testament, you almost always see elders refer to in the plural. Elders, pastors, overseers, leading the church together under Jesus, the chief shepherd of the church. And that’s exactly what’s happening here in Exodus 18. God is telling Moses through Jethro, “You can’t do this on your own. You need many other leaders around you who are trustworthy, who will be able to judge with wisdom and discernment.”

And when you do this as a leader, God will direct you. Not just by providing for you, but by providing through leaders around you. And you will be able to endure. No leader can endure alone. Leaders need other leaders alongside them. And this is not just good for a leader, this is good for the people they lead. Listen to that last phrase. If you do this, Exodus 18 says, “God will direct you. You will be able to endure. And, all this people also will go to their place in peace.”

So to any of you who are listening right now, who are in some kind of leadership position, I want to pray that God would surround you with other leaders who help you lead. And if you think about leaders in your life, pray that God would surround them with good, helpful leaders alongside them. God, we confess together today, none of us can lead alone. None of us, if wise, wants to lead alone. God, we need the help of counsel from others around us. By your grace, who you have given gifts that not every one of us has, we realize no matter who we are or how great a leader someone might be, no person on this earth right now has every gift that’s needed in leadership. God, we praise you for the plurality of leadership you’ve made possible in your church. Lord, we praise you for the ways you guard us from ourselves. You guard us from foolishness through wise counselors, through fellow leaders.

And so God, I pray for every leader who’s listening right now, Lord, that they would be all these things that we see in Exodus 18:21, that they would be trustworthy, that they would hate a bribe, that they would be responsible with the leadership you’ve entrusted to them because they fear you. And God, I pray that you would surround them with others who fear you. That you would surround them with other leaders who are trustworthy. And God, in this, that you would direct their leadership. That you would give them endurance in their leadership. And we pray for your peace over those they lead.

God, even as I think about leadership you’ve entrusted to me, I praise you. I’m so thankful for leaders like this around me. And God, I pray that you would grant me and those around me, and those who are listening right now and those around them, all of us who you’ve entrusted any kind of leadership position to; in a home, in a workplace, in a church, God help us to lead wisely with others who are leading wisely, all in the fear of you. God, we pray this for those who are leading us. God, as we think about right now in our minds, leaders in our lives in different ways, different arenas, God, we pray that you would give those who lead us fear of you and wisdom from you. That they would be trustworthy leaders, and that you would surround them with good leaders, that there might be a healthy plurality of leadership in a way that leads to your direction, in a way that leads to endurance among leaders, and in a way that brings peace among those they lead.

We pray all of this, Lord Jesus, in your name and the name of the one, perfect, all-wise, completely good, perfectly good leader. Jesus, we praise you as our leader. We praise you that there is no one like you, that you alone need no one else to lead alongside you. You are God, you are Lord, you are King, and we are so glad you are our King and our Lord and our leader. And so we pray for this, knowing our need for you and our need for others who are looking to you. We pray this in your name, Lord Jesus. Amen.

David Platt serves as pastor at McLean Bible Church in Washington, D.C. He is the founder and chairman of Radical. He is the author of several books, including Radical, Radical Together, Follow Me, Counter Culture, and Something Needs to Change.

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