Thursday, May 28, 2020

Covid Demands A Jethro - Part One: busy

COVID Demands A Jethro
Based on Exodus 18

Actual footage of Moses and Jethro (not really).

Most of us know the story of Moses' father in law, Jethro, the Priest from Median who gave Moses his most salient and sage advice. Jethro's paternal counsel was for the ages, it helped Moses, probably saved the Children of Israel, and still speaks to us today. During this crazy COVID crisis, this wisdom needs to be heeded more than ever. 

"We were busy before this all started, busier shutting things down and busier still opening up. If we don't find time to replenish before the holidays, we could see a lot of burnout in January and February."


Before Jethro brought Moses' wife and sons to him in the wilderness. Moses was so busy with his work of building a large church congregation in Egypt and had little time for his family. He was so busy in his calling and running a successful ministry that he couldn't find the time to be with his wife and children so his Father in Law had to bring them to him (I wonder what additional choice words he may have had for Moses considering his neglect). Moses was probably a hard worker. He was pioneering the words first giga-church with several million congregants. He was kind of a big deal. 

So Jethro shows up and sees Moses working 60 hour weeks, hobnobbing with CEOs like Pharoah and probably spending lots of time in meetings with his worship Pastor and Executive Pastor (Miriam and Aaron). He was doing all the right stuff, being the man of God, leading his church, doling out wisdom, and doing all the things that he thought God expected from him, the things he was called to... leading the ministry. 


There was a lot of ministry to do before the Exodus (aka the revival the church was praying for*). Then the demand increased. God just used Moses in the greatest move of God his church had ever seen. Revival to the point of several million people responding to Moses message and joining his church plant probably called "Church on the Move" or "First Assembly Egypt" (but soon to be "First Baptist Cannan" #poorhumor #dadjokes). Moses was busy preaching messages, podcasting, writing books, rallying the people and building his base that he may have forgotten how busy he really was. Luckily he was able to leave his family with his Father in Law, hire some family members and work tirelessly and continue building the local church. Then revival hit and God was moving. The people responded, they took an offering for the ages. There was no financial lack. Many might say, this was the perfect model for planting a church. Significant revival, millions saved, a giant giving campaign, God providing miracles of deliverance and signs and wonder and on their way to build a new campus in the suburbs, things were good. 

Moses quickly became the man in demand. He was highly successful and everyone wanted a piece of him. He was quickly on the speaking circuit, co-authored a perpetual best seller and was working more hours helping people than he should. He was ministering to more people and working harder than ever. He was busy in Egypt but now he was even busier on this new journey. Finding a new normal would make him busier still. Coming soon would be all the religious celebrations, which would make him even busier. Not only would his church be celebrating upcoming holidays like the Passover but they would be inventing others like Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, and Sukkot, yes, an even busier season was coming. He knew a good Pastor needed to work even harder during the holidays.

Moses was busy and got busier and would be busier still. If it weren't for Jethro, he might have gotten unbalanced, unhealthy, burnt out, and maybe worse. 


The news of revival spread far and wide and Moses Father in Law heard about it all the way in the desert. Jethro brought balance into Moses' life, a slap into reality. He had been watching Moses' wife and kids during a busy season in the new church. Now change was here, Moses was busier than he had ever been but Jethro showed up with the gift of reality. Moses was going to have to receive Jethro and all he presented or suffer burn out, regret or worse. 

The name Jethro most likely means rest, abundance or overflow. Ironically, we are supposed to do ministry out of our overflow, not out of need or passion or even calling. Jethro represented significant changes that Moses had to make. Moses needed to pivot. 
    * Jethro brought priorities into focus. 
    * Jethro reminded Moses of his family responsibilities.
    * Jethro helped Moses create a new normal for his growing church. 
    * Jethro challenged Moses for balance;  He couldn't do it all.

Moses church had to move beyond startup and Moses had to move beyond his own abilities. 


Before cover most Pastors and leaders were busy. We were doing what God called us to do. Some were ready for the digital leap we may have been dabbling in Facebook live or trying to get people to give online. Two months ago it became a necessity. If we were ready, the transition was solid, most of us it took some doing and we got busier. Then we began plans to open up and we got even busier. Opening up is 10 times more work than closing things down. Holiday planning is just around the corner and then the Holidays will be here. We need to pivot to health now. We need to pivot to combat burnout and embrace replenishing now. We need to pivot to Jethro's advice and make changes now. We are all glad Moses did. If we do too, things will be OK, if we don't, January and February could be rough.

Other cool people named Moses. In order, Moses Malone (I had this poster in HS), Moses “Moe” Horwitz (one of the three stooges) and my friend and rapper, Moses Uvere.

*Maybe this was recognized as revival, maybe just another nuisance. Thankfully, the people embraced it, possibly pivoted, and got closer to God through it. Could we do the same during this current crises?

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