“Turning The Rat Race Into A Relay Race” (Exodus 18:17-27)


Sermon Notes from July 29-30, 2017


Today we are going to begin a 4-5 week series entitled “Leadership Lessons.” Each sermon will have two parallel tracks.

  1. One track will be very practical, hands on leadership training to help you become a better leader. You might be thinking, “I’m not a leader and I have no desire to be a leader.” I’d like for you to think again – the lowest common denominator (or description) for effective leadership is that: Leadership is influence. My belief is that everyone in this room would like to have more and better influence in the scope of your current sphere of relationships. Whether you’re a CEO, or a mechanic, a builder, retired, or a stay-at-home mom – we can all grow in our leadership capacity. And whatever side of the political isle you’re on I hope we can all agree that we are not seeing humble, thoughtful, or respectful dialogue take place in Washington. Nor are we seeing caring, compassionate, or strategic leadership. This is a great time for the Church in America to lead within our communities with wisdom, authentic care, and compassion. This is a great time for Christians to provide humble focused leadership in our homes, churches, neighborhoods, places of employment, and in other community organizations. I want to invite each one of you to be willing to step into a leadership (influence) role in your own sphere of relationships.
  2. The second track for each sermon in this series will be to review effective biblical leadership practices for church leaders and potential leaders. We’ll begin with some basic church leadership practices and then get into more specific teaching about the role of effective elders. Can I share with you a $2 word? Ecclesiology – from the Greek ekklesia (literally) meaning “called out ones.” Ecclesiology is the study of the Church and it’s functions including leadership and governance, the ordinances of baptism and communion, discipleship, the role and structure of worship services, and its core ministries. [If you’ve ever served as an elder in this church will you stand? Let’s thank these men for their service…] By God’s grace they, along with Pastor John, brought this church a long way.

At the conclusion of this series we will be reconstituting the eldership team. You will have an opportunity to nominate elders for the next season of ministry fruitfulness here at CCC. There will be more information about that in the coming weeks…

Today we will be in the second book of the OT – Exodus 18:17-27. In keeping with the theme of the last few weeks of looking for Jesus and the gospel in the OT, I provided some notes in the bulletin.

The book of Exodus previews the influence of the gospel in and through the Christian Life…

  • Enslaved Egypt / to sin (Ex 1-2)
  • We need a Savior/Deliver (Ex 3-5)
  • We are rescued from the watery tomb of death by the blood of a perfect and innocent Passover Lamb (who is Jesus) (Ex 6-12 (The escape through the Red Sea can also be seen as a type of baptism.)
  • As Christ followers our lives are lived in a kind of wilderness experience as we anticipate life in the Promised Land to come (Ex 13)

We also see that Moses was an unlikely (or reluctant) leader. He had deep insecurities, he had an anger problem, he had a speech impediment. Moses had plenty of his own issues but God, in His grace, overwhelmed Moses with His love and mercy and Moses was able to trust God and become a strong and capable leader. Moses lived 120 years. The first 40 years he spent learning the ways of Egypt. The second 40 years he spent unlearning the way of Egypt. And the final 40 years were spent leading God’s people. That’s an insightful summation of the stages of leadership development.

Jesus is the true and better Moses who leaves the comfort and perfection of heaven to come into our brokenness and stand in the gap between us and God and mediate (or arbitrate) a New Covenant (of salvation by grace through faith.)

So, today I’d like to talk about how to turn the rat race into a relay race.

“It is better to set a hundred [people] to work than to do the work of a hundred [people]. –D.L. Moody

In exodus the first 16 verses of the chapter talk about this guy Jethro, who was Moses’ father-in-law. Jethro comes to visit Moses and catches a glimpse of a typical day in the life of Moses, who is leading approx. 3m Israelites on this journey through the desert – and Moses is practically a 1-man show. He’s the President, he’s the Supreme Court, and he’s the Legislature. One guy doing almost everything. Everybody is frustrated…

We’ll pick it up in v. 17, I will read it, pray, and we’ll see what we can learn about effective leaders and their work… “Moses’ father-in-law said to him, ‘The thing that you are doing is not good. 18 You will surely wear out, both yourself and these people who are with you, for the task is too heavy for you; you cannot do it alone. 19 Now listen to me: I will give you counsel, and God be with you. You be the people’s representative before God, and you bring the disputes to God, 20 then teach them the statutes and the laws, and make known to them the way in which they are to walk and the work they are to do. 21 Furthermore, 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. 22 Let them judge the people at all times; and let it be that every major dispute they will bring to you, but every minor dispute they themselves will judge. So it will be easier for you, and they will bear the burden with you. 23 If you do this thing and God so commands you, then you will be able to endure, and all these people also will go to their place in peace.’ 24 So Moses listened to his father-in-law and did all that he had said. 25 Moses chose able men out of all Israel and made them heads over the people, leaders of thousands, of hundreds, of fifties and of tens. 26 They judged the people at all times; the difficult dispute they would bring to Moses, but every minor dispute they themselves would judge. 27 Then Moses bade his father-in-law farewell, and he went his way into his own land.” –Exodus 18:17-27 [pray]


I found 10 qualities of effective leaders. Some of them are no-brainers. All of them will help you to have effective influence in your sphere of relationships. We will look at them one at a time:

  1. Vs. 17-18: Effective leaders keep the big picture in view – Jethro says to Moses the thing you’re doing is not good – you’re not only going to wear yourself out but you’re going to frustrate the people and wear them out too.

Robert Murray McCheyne graduated from Edinburgh University at age 14 and pastored a Presbyterian congregation of over 1,000 by the age of 23. He worked so hard his health broke. Before dying at age 29, he wrote, “God gave me a message to deliver and a horse to ride. Alas, I have killed the horse and now I cannot deliver the message.”

“The plans of the diligent lead surely to abundance, but everyone who is hasty comes only to poverty.” –Proverbs 21:5 (Take the time to think “big picture”)

  1. V. 19b: Effective leaders prayYou be the people’s representative before God. (This is what elders do)

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” –Philippians 4:6

“In prayer it is better to have a heart without words than words without a heart. ” –John Bunyan

“The function of prayer is not to influence God, but rather to change the nature of the one who prays.” –Søren Kierkegaard

  1. V. 20: Effective leaders teach and train – V. 20 talks about the “way” the “work” and the “walk.”

“And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, 12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ.” –Ephesians 4:11-12

The role of the staff is to equip the saints (i.e., YOU!) to accomplish the ministry. The larger a church becomes, the more ministry is accomplished by volunteers.

  1. V. 21: Effective leaders look for people who:
    1. Are able: — Hebrew meaning: strength, efficiency, wealth, valiant (41x) (brave)
    2. Fear God: — Hebrew meaning: to have great reverence for God, stand in awe of God
    3. Are truthful in every way: — Hebrew meaning: firmness, faithful, and true (people you can count on to be straightforward)
    4. Hate dishonest gain: – Hebrew meaning: gain or profit made by violence, unjust gain
  2. V. 22: Effective leaders give authority equal with responsibility

Let subordinates (and kids) do the job you’ve given them.” Don’t micro-manage. High freedom with high accountability. We have a great staff and we are beginning to say to them, “You can build and run your ministry however you see fit – AND you will also be held accountable. (Friend who is a geothermal engineer who made a 1m-dollar mistake…)

  1. V. 24: Effective leaders are humble

So Moses listened to his father-in-law. “A good leader is a person who takes a little more than his [or her] share of the blame and a little less than his [or her] share of the credit.” —John Maxwell

  1. V. 25: Effective leaders set-up a chain of care.

Not “chain-of-command”! Notice that Jethro broke up the people into groups of 10’s, 50’s, 100’s, and 1,000’s. This remains a genius way to build and grow a church (actually any organization). Every church will eventually expand or contract to its infrastructure (think skeletal system). The basic building block for any healthy, vital, effective church is the leader of 10. We call that a small group / home group. If you’d like to be trained as a leader of 10’s or open your home to a home group in the Fall (or get back in the game), contact Pastor Matt.


As we land the plane I want to move us to the takeaway, which is printed in the bulletin… Peter Drucker (d.2005) was a management consultant, educator, and author. He was also a Christian who personally mentored some very significant Christian leaders (like Rick Warren and Bill Hybels and several others). He didn’t mentor them theologically (or ecclesiologically), he mentored them in critical areas of leadership and management as well as obtaining the right tension between efficiency and effectiveness. Peter Drucker was paid big dollars to go into organizations and ask two questions:

  1. What business are you in?
  2. How’s business?

If we were to ask that question of any church what would the answer be? The answer can be summed up in Mat 28:19: “Go and make disciples.” –Matthew 28:19. And then we need to ask ourselves, how’s business? We know that effective discipleship includes evangelism (that’s why it says “Go.”) A very important task during this transition season here at CCC if for us to reestablish what is known as a “Discipleship Pathway.”

Think of a continuum with Unchurched Unbeliever on one end and Fully Devoted Follower of Christ on the other end. It is our responsibility to pray as a church and seek God’s grace and wisdom to see how God wants that to happen here. Here is our takeaway for today:

Effective influence (or leadership) is: 1) lifting a person’s vision to higher sights, 2) the raising of a person’s performance to a higher standard, and 3) the building of a person’s character beyond its normal limitations. (Adapted from Peter Drucker)

Again whether you’re a CEO of a multinational corporation or a homeschool mom or dad, this will help you to reproduce leaders in an increasingly leaderless world.


One thought on ““Turning The Rat Race Into A Relay Race” (Exodus 18:17-27)

  1. Thank you so much for posting these sermon notes….I was unable to attend church last week and was so glad to print off these notes and follow along with your online sermon about leadership. It was almost like actually being there. I currently am part of a small woman’s weekly accountability/prayer/sermon series bible study and was able to participate in the exciting bible study that we had by using your notes and looking at what pertains to our lives and our sphere of people in it. Looking forward to our church being prodded into a new way of thinking and doing church on a level that probably none of us have ever experienced before.


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