For 40 years, Moses had enjoyed a fairly quiet life of shepherding in the wilderness. Then God brought him back to Egypt to deliver His people Israel, and suddenly, he had over 2 million people to look after. Life got a lot noisier, more hectic and more difficult.
Soon Moses was overwhelmed with his responsibilities. The Midianite priest Jethro recognized that something needed to change, and quickly. Moses needed help. He needed to delegate some of his responsibilities to other capable men.
At the heart of his counsel was this instruction on how to choose these leaders: “Moreover thou shalt provide out of all the people able men, such as fear God, men of truth, hating covetousness; and place such over them, to be rulers of thousands, and rulers of hundreds, rulers of fifties, and rulers of tens” (Exodus 18:21). It was sound advice. Jethro listed four specific qualities that make for an effective captain, supervisor or ruler. They are worth contemplating and aspiring to.
1) Ability. A man must be capable and competent to do the job. The word able implies strength and efficiency.
2) Fear of God. A man must be humble, having a realistic appraisal of himself, under God’s authority, sensitive to God’s direction, and happy to serve within the bounds of God’s government.
3) Truth. A man must put a high value on truth. To be truly effective, he must not be a yes man—timid, easily cowed or a people pleaser. He must be willing to stand up for, even initiate confrontation for, the sake of what is true rather than bowing to pressure in order to make peace, if such “peace” means that falsehood prevails.
4) Hatred of covetousness. A man must not be greedy for money or motivated by filthy lucre. Leaders who are can be a curse to their people (e.g. 1 Samuel 8:3; Proverbs 1:19; 15:27; 28:16). Be unyielding in obeying principle and virtue.