You Cannot Do It Alone
Moses’s father-in-law said to him, “What you are doing is not good. You will surely wear yourself out, both you and these people with you, for the task it too heavy for you; you cannot do it alone.” – Exodus 18:17-18 (NRSVue)
In Exodus 18, we find Moses leading the Israelites on a forty-year trek through the wilderness on the way to the Promised Land: seeking food, water, and shelter; keeping an eye out for catastrophes; arranging care for the sick and support for the oldest and youngest in the group. As if that were not enough, he serves as judge, overseeing disputes among this group of weary, traumatized wanderers. Only Moses’s father-in-law names the problem. Moses cannot possibly be all things to all people. He must clarify which work God calls him to do and find leaders among the people to do the rest.
Moses cannot do it alone.
Neither can I, and neither can you.
I won’t try to analyze Moses’s personality type, but I know mine. I know what a thrill I can get from feeling indispensable. I know how I tell myself that all the work is mine to do, or that others cannot do it as well, or as thoroughly. I know how pride in my capacity not only leads to exhaustion but robs others of the opportunity to lean into the gifts God has given them.
I cannot do it alone, whatever “it” is, and neither can you.
Holy One, all people have been given gifts and graces by you. Give us the confidence in you and the generosity of spirit to share the tasks of life and ministry, allowing all you have given to all of us to be shared, and allowing your people to flourish. Amen.