There is a story found in Exodus 18. Moses is being visited by his father-in-law Jethro. One day Jethro notices Moses’ way of conducting business and Jethro offers a suggestion. How well do you do with the sharing of opinions by others? Are you willing to learn from anyone? Even your father-in-law? Many of us chafe at anything that remotely sounds like criticism. Many of the best lessons I have learned in life have come from observations of those around me. One thing is for sure, if you are going to receive input from others you must possess a growth mindset. Growth mindset people are all too aware of the fact that they do not know everything. If my mindset is one of growth even if the observation is offered critically, I will still see that I can learn from anyone. I have learned more from my critics than I have from my friends. My friends like me and therefore are afraid of hurting my feelings. Hurting my feelings is never a factor with those who are not fond of me. As painful as it was at the time, there are lessons I would never have learned except my critics helped me to see things, especially my blind spots!
Jethro was not a critic, he likes Moses, he was in no way trying to hurt him, instead, he was trying to assist him. If you are a person who believes that a job is worth doing well is a job I must do lest someone else mess it up, you need to listen to Jethro! Moses, you are wearing yourself out! While Moses is wearing himself out, there are a lot of capable people standing around with nothing to do!
Jethro said Moses, you must learn to delegate. For the big issues we will come to you, but let those around you help you and not only lighten your load, but you will give them the gift of teamwork. In this passage, we see a division of labor. Divide the people into groups and select someone to be the leader who can listen to the people, gather the facts and make a wise decision. Jethro was saying to Moses you will wear yourself and the people out if you do not find a better way.
Today we must not only lead the people, but we also need to love, recruit and train people as well.
How many times have we missed out on a blessing because we were not willing to listen to a friend, family member or critic who had a good idea to share with us but we were unwilling to listen? Let me state a fact: I do not know everything and either you do you! Therefore, we must be open to suggestions and advise regardless of where it comes from. If you are going to get better, one way this will happen is if you listen to the views of others.
A few years ago when I was pastoring, as a staff we had a tendency to write off any criticism or comments we received from our parishioners. One day I started the meeting by saying “before we dismiss anything resembling criticism, we are going together to look and ask ourselves the question, “Is there a kernel of truth in this comment?” Even if it is only a perception, we will examine them and seek to improve and get better. If you never listen to anyone, who do you hear from ? Read that sentence again, and you will see how ridiculous this sounds! Continual improvement will escape you and me if we do not listen to others.
Moses has set a good example, by listening, recognizing the value in the suggestion and then taking implementing action. This same pattern will work for you and me.