Exodus 18:21-23 (ESV)

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. [22] 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. [23] If you do this, God will direct you, you will be able to endure, and all this people also will go to their place in peace.”

Moses sets up a makeshift office for the people to come to him and have him judge for them in their disputes and questions. His father-in-law, Jethro, sees that the work is too much for one man and proposes a solution so that Moses is not the only one who does the judging. He suggests that Moses choose men who “fear God, are trustworthy and hate a bribe”. Some of these men will be over thousands, some over hundreds, some fifties and some tens. So let’s interview Jethro for a minute:

TBC – “Jethro, you have come up with a plan to help Moses mediate disputes and make rulings for the people of Israel. What led you to do this?”

Jethro“Well, I noticed that Moses was spending all day meeting with people and when the day ended the line was still very long. He wasn’t spending the right amount of time with my daughter and my grandchildren. I don’t want them without their husband and father”.

TBC – “What did you come up with to alleviate the problem?”

Jethro “I devised a plan for qualified men from the community to share the judging load with Moses. Moses will still be directly involved with the more difficult cases, but the easier ones can be handled by these men.”

TBC – What qualifications did you come up with?

JethroIsrael is the community of the people of God so I knew that they had to have the right spiritual qualities. This would ensure that they judge according to God’s ways and the people will be able to trust their judgements.

TBC – So what specifically did you arrive at for these qualifications?

Jethro First and foremost, these men must fear God. They must have the trust of the people. And they must not be susceptible to bribery from those who think they can buy a good decision from them.

TBC – We notice that you have organized these judges in terms of how many people they will be responsible for. What additional requirements are you making for those who will oversee more people?


TBC – Surely those looking after thousands of people will need greater administrative and organizational skills than those only caring for thirty.

JethroLook, these men are called to make rulings for the people according to the will of God. The organizational abilities, while of some importance, are a distant second to the all important matter of character and godliness. Their character will guide them in the matters of logistics when the time comes. It does not matter how many people they care for. A worldly greedy man overseeing thirty people will negatively effect the whole nation. A highly efficient leader caring for ten thousand people, without the necessary spirituality will be of no use to Moses as he attempts to help his people. I am shocked that you do not understand this.

Some men are called to lead thousands and some are called to lead just tens. But they must all fear God and be men of impeccable morals. But there is nothing said here that the more gifted ones should be given more people to lead.

What God wants from His ministers is holiness, the fear of God, integrity. It is what He wants from all His ministers. Some of those holy men he will bless with thousands of people to lead. Others He will bless with a few. Those who only get a few are not to think that they are deficient in some manner and those who have many are not to think that God has called them to teach the world how they can have thousands in their churches too, if only they will do what he did and does. Nor are those with only tens supposed to look longingly into the future hoping that one day they will have thousands as well.

Measure your church by the content of its messages, the usefulness to you in your daily walk with Christ, its faithfulness to the Gospel. Read its doctrinal statement. If God should use something said in this little unknown site to help you in some way then the purpose for it has been accomplished.

God has chosen the leaders of many churches to lead tens and fifties , not hundreds or thousands. They have no radio programme, no worldwide ministry, no impressive budget that enables them to save starving masses around the world. But they have leaders who take their holiness seriously. They have men and women who are utterly trustworthy and who long for a revival of their churches and the communities that God has given them to serve. Sounds pretty biblical to me. But they better watch out that it doesn’t get them thinking that they are better just because they are small. Pride knows no barrier.