【Bible Study】Exodus 18: Managing Your Family And Managing The People Of God

Pastor Samuel Sharing

Brother William Sharing

Bible Study: Exodus

Good morning everyone. Today let's look at Exodus chapter 18. There is a little hidden message, and not many people notice that. Do you know what happened? Moses' father-in-law brought his wife and his two sons to come and see Moses. In Exodus, we did not see in any chapter other than this one; that Moses brought them along and went to Egypt. We do not know when Moses sent the family back. We have no idea when Moses sent away his wife and his two sons. Now, the father-in-law had heard what the Lord had done for the Israelites, and what the Lord had done to the Egyptians. Then he brought the wife and sons to come and see Moses.

The second part of this is talking about the father-in-law giving good advice to Moses. Then Moses started to form an organizing structure. What this chapter is trying to tell us is how to manage. This chapter is talking about managing your family and the people of God.

The first part is talking about managing your family. Before I talk about managing your family, let me tell you this. The first chapter of Genesis was talking about God giving an assignment to Adam. The first assignment was management. So management is one of the most important keywords. God created the universe and heaven and earth. But the problem is God created heaven and earth and you have to manage that. I thought, "Okay, God created such a perfect and beautiful world, why does he need us to manage this?"

This is a subject of great confusion among Christians. I met Christians who say they live for God. Are you living for God, or is God living for you? Are you supposed to manage all these things? God gave you a job, but you left it to God. What do you do? Nothing. Is this called managing? When you manage, you have to do your due diligence and do what God has asked you to do. Many Christians told me they live for God. I wish I had disagreed.

So managing is one of the most important assignments given by God. And as Christians, we have to do our due diligence. The New Testament talks about managing the church. If you do not even know how to manage your own family, you cannot manage the church. This is what the Bible says. But managing the family is another confusing matter.

Managing Your Family: Pleasing God or Pleasing Your Spouse and Children?

When I saw some of the pastors, they were telling me "Wife happy, life happy." At that time, they were trying very hard to please their wife. If the wife disagreed, they would not do it in order not to offend the wife. They were not managing the family well. There was a time when I borrowed an office from a church because I had not gotten a proper place yet. I was using the place for three or four weeks, and I used it every day to minister and everything. My team members also went with me. But I did not see the pastor. I said to the pastor: "I can buy you lunch, we can have a meal together and have a chit-chat, etc." But I could not see him anywhere. One day, his wife told me he was very busy. I asked, "Why is he busy?" Because he was looking after the child. I was so shocked, let me tell you.

A lot of pastors look after their children. You may disagree with me but I asked, "Why do you need to look after the child?" What kind of job permits you to babysit? What kind of job is it that you can look after your child during business hours? I could not understand! "Wow, this is an amazing job! You can look after your family, you don't even have to look after the church!" Do you know how to manage your family?

That was before the Covid. Another time, many years back, I was given a phone number to call. This number was a pastor's number because a member came to me and asked me to call their pastor to have a chat with him, as he was a very nice person. So I gave him a call, but no one answered. A second time, and still no one answered. I do things in a very professional way. This person wanted me to call the pastor, so I thought the pastor could be very very busy. I made six attempts to call him. After six times, he answered the phone. But I could only hear the babysitting noise. I said "Hello" but nobody answered. The phone probably was answered by itself in the pocket without someone touching it. So after six attempts, I gave up.

Is this called managing the church? Is this called managing the family? They are doing this because the wife asked him to do it. This is not the first time! I have another case I can share with you. I know a lot of pastors who listen to their wives. But when I read Genesis, God said, "Adam, because you listened to your wife you are cursed." Oh my God. I was in the confusion about how to manage the family. I don't think it is the proper way to work and look after your family at the same time. Is there such work? That is not your job, it is to look after the church. And a lot of people say we have to balance these things. I am so confused.

Compromising Is Not Management

One day, a prominent pastor was telling me that I had to compromise. Compromise? Yes, I can compromise on doing housework, cooking cleaning, etc. I am a very efficient worker. Even with housework, I am very efficient and I work very effectively. So much so that I can do it all. Am I managing my family? Yes and no.

A lot of people say no because the wife is not happy. If your wife is not happy then what can you do? She is unhappy, and you have to do something to make her happy. What is this? I have many ways of telling jokes. Even if the husband and wife quarrel, I can still crack a joke to make the wife happy. But is that a way of managing your family?

This prominent pastor asked me to compromise. This is the time I started to dig into the Bible. After I dug into the Bible, I realized Moses had a family. He had a wife. Somehow I dug out the family matters of Moses. Do you want to hear his story? The story of his family? I am so excited I had this discovery.

Moses sent his wife back to her father. Why? The wife of Moses missed the most exciting part: how God punished the Egyptians, and how God killed the firstborns of the Egyptians. His wife Zipporah missed all these exciting things. I thought: "What happened?" And after I looked further, I found in Exodus Chapter 4 that at the lodging place on the way, God was about to kill Moses!

I am still talking about management. Don't get me wrong. I'm just digging out the root cause of the problem. So why did God want to kill Moses? God gave Moses an exciting assignment. He said, "Go to Egypt and bring my people out. I will use my mighty hand and strike the Egyptians. I will make Pharaoh as stubborn as I want. Then I will show my mighty hand." And on the way to Egypt, the wife somehow disagreed on the circumcision of the sons. Can you imagine? Moses was married for about 40 years, so the sons are easily about 20 plus years. They were young men already. The wife cut off her son's foreskin and touched Moses' feet with it. "Surely you are a bridegroom of blood to me." So the Lord left him alone. (Exodus 4:25-26)

If you don't read this part carefully, you will flip through, and that will be it. I want to figure out how to manage a family. Moses, after confronting his wife, Zipporah, compromised. He wanted to cut off the foreskin, to conduct the circumcision for the sons but the wife disagreed. Then he compromised. Can you do that? You know in the family that you want to do major surgery on a male's organ and the wife disagrees. If you listen to your wife and you are not pressing on with what God commands you, then God will kill you.

Suddenly I correlate it with this. Moses brought Zipporah and the two sons to Egypt. Do you know what happened? The wife and husband quarreled pretty often. And you know the tone they carried such as "surely you are a bridegroom of blood to me". She got so used to this kind of tone and probably in the family had bullied Moses so many times. Moses had misunderstood about managing and thought he could compromise and manage the family.

One day, they probably had a very serious quarrel, which was not recorded. Most of them want to talk about it. The affairs between wife and husband are not something that you would want to talk about. "Now I want to tell you all my secrets!" " I don't want to tell you all my secrets!" "You want to hear my secrets?" All the wife and husband issues.

Then when they suddenly did, Zipporah was sent back by Moses. So I'm just speculating a little bit. "You wanna come with me? You come with me. You can stay here, don't quarrel! Keep quiet! if you don't want to come with me, then go back and get out of here. I'm doing an assignment from God. You don't need to murmur as I don't have time for that. I'm doing a job given by God and I'm not neglecting you. I have not got time to do all these." This was a critical moment. " I have to bring the Israelites out of Egypt! There are three million Israelites. No joke around."

Serving God Takes Priority Over Other Things

When we are ministering to people, we hear the word "neglect" quite often. One day I was talking to the wife of a brother. She said:" My husband neglects me". Oh my God! What I'm talking about is how you manage your family. On one hand, you are given the assignment to set up the church. On the other hand, you are given a job as a husband. Most teachings will be telling you to balance and you cannot neglect your wife. A lot of people think. I'm a workaholic but I'm actually a family man. Let me tell you that I'm a family man. I don't drink, I don't go out, I don't watch movies or any TV drama, and I do house cleaning. Sometimes, I cook. I do 2/3 of the housework. But I perform extremely well on my job. I know how I am going to manage.

But no matter what you do and how much you have done, you cannot make everyone happy. Because people can easily find faults. So I faced an issue like this and thought about the story of Moses. So I asked the prominent pastors about Moses. Was Moses balancing the wife and the assignment of God? No, they were never balanced. If you want to come with me, then come with me. If you don't, then go your own way. That's why I figured out they could not manage.

Moses's father-in-law heard about what Moses had done and saw him as the top man among three million people. He was like a king for the Israelites and managed a huge team. Money to Moses was no longer an issue. Everything was in his hand.

Jethro, the priest of Midian, the father-in-law of Moses, heard everything God had done for Moses and his people. And how the Lord had brought the Israelites out of Egypt. It was amazing and he got to bring the daughter to see Moses. " I want my daughter to be the wife of the most prominent leader of the Israelites, just like the First Lady!" Therefore, the father-in-law, Jethro, brought Zipporah and the two sons back.

I want to tell you another story. Moses had two sons but something was not quite right with them. In the book of Judges, the grandson of Moses, the son of Gershom, Jonathan became a priest of Micah, an idol-worshipper. It was not part of Moses, it's part of our law. He became a priest of the idol. So funny.

And the problem is that not only did Moses face such an issue, but also many other leaders faced a similar issue. Did the son misbehave? The son was not listening to Moses and was that Moses' failure?

Was it the failure of the father? Was it because of Moses that the grandson became a priest of the idol? And the son of Moses went away with the mother back to their grandfather's. Actually, the two sons were supposed to go with Moses and to see the most exciting things. They would be a great help for Moses.

Instead, they left. Didn't Moses manage well? We all know the story of King David. He had many sons, did he manage the family well? But David was managing the whole nation, the Kingdom of Israel. Did David do his job properly? Did Moses do his job properly? Did Samuel do a proper job? Big question!

A lot of people believe compromise is equal to managing. If you are a pastor, you can compromise and you can try to balance the assignment given by God and the family matter. But later on, I finally realized that a lot of pastors suffer from cancer. They have a lot of inner struggles within the church. On one hand, they do not want to compromise; on the other hand, they have to compromise. So there are a lot of struggles. Do you think that is an easy life? Not at all.

One pastor was walking into the sea because he did not want a divorce. He said:" I do not want to divorce, I do not want to kill my wife, so I have to kill myself." Can you see the kind of struggles? Family? Let me tell you about the family.

The first family was the family of Adam and Eve. Eve was supposed to be the helping hand of Adam, just like Zipporah was also supposed to be the helping hand of Moses. If the wife chooses not to be one, so be it. As a man of God, we need to stand firm because we come to the world to serve Almighty God. We come into the world not for living a happy family life. If God is not happy, nothing will be achieved. If God is not pleased with what we do, that would be a serious disaster.

The Purpose of Our Life: Serving God

Are you listening to what I'm saying? I choose this kind of management. I think of the story of Moses, the story of Samuel and David. And later on, I realized Apostle Paul also commented on the same issue. I am so fortunate that I have discovered this because I know I cannot balance my family and the assignment given by God. That would be a big confusion.

So do you think Moses managed his family well? I think so. He sent the wife back to her father. " I don't need you if you're not helping me. You can't be my stumbling block. I was almost killed by God at the lodging place. I don't want that to happen anymore. Do you want me to compromise? So sorry, I came to the world, not because of you, I'm not for you. I am here for God."

There is a lengthy explanation of this story. Compromise is not equal to managing. If you want to make people happy, to please people, then you cannot serve God. This was mentioned by Apostle Paul.

Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ. (Galatians 1:10 )

I'm not pleasing anyone, I only please God. If you want to please people and make people happy, sorry, you cannot serve God at all. Now you know why God has killed so many people. God has killed a lot of pastors. I wish them good luck.

If you ask me, I would say "no, I'm not going to compromise. I'm not going to do that. If you want to come with me, come; if you don't want to come with me, then I'm so sorry and you can go anywhere you want." Am I managing? Yes! I am managing.

Managing the People of God Through Training

So the second part is talking about managing the people of God. There were a lot of arguments among the Israelites. Either they fought against each other or they brought issues and disputes to Moses. They went to Moses for a judgment which would take a whole day. These were the people of God who later on died in the desert, never being able to enter the promised land, because they took all these things so seriously and they did not want to give in. Everyone believed they had the right. They fought for all sorts of nonsense.

Could these people be called people of God? These kinds of works took Moses a lot of time to solve because all the Israelites brought their disputes to him. He got to make a judgment. What were those issues? Let's say, for example, someone's cow or someone's bull knocked down someone or injured someone. There were a lot of these sorts of nonsenses. Then the father-in-law of Moses saw that. He told Moses: "You cannot do this. I give you a better idea. You need to do training. You can train each individual level of the leaders."

In our church, the most important responsibility for me is to do training. I'm a good trainer. I can explain complex concepts in a very simple manner, making them easy to understand. So the father-in-law gave Moses an idea of management and Moses thought: "Oh, this is wonderful!" That is why it is said that Moses was a humble guy. Are you with me? Moses was indeed a humble guy. He was a top leader leading about three million Israelites and he was so busy. But when his father-in-law said "Let me give you some advice", he accepted without hesitation. OK, can you imagine? To some people, it may be a little bit insulting: "Do you think you get it right? Do you think I got it wrong? No, I just want to do that. I don't think I got it wrong. Stop giving me advice!" This is called stubbornness, right? If someone else got a better idea, you better listen to the more effective way of doing things.

So from that day onwards, Moses started to do training: He trained each level of officials over thousands, hundreds, fifties and tens, according to his father-in-law's advice. In my mind, management is a very misleading concept. In the old days, I thought management is just sitting in a big chair behind a very big table pained in deep dark red, with walls of bookshelves surrounding you and dictating others to do this or that. Right? You would think you are really someone, watching everyone doing things according to your instructions. That's really nice, man! Yeah, that's really awesome.

In the old days, my understanding of management was like that. But later on, when I studied history and management, I changed my perception. When I started to sit in the management role in the corporate, I realized there are a lot of problems with management. It's not about dictating people to do this or that. Someone was telling me: "Oh, you can do it by all means, but don't get caught." Later on, I said no to this idea. Some of my workers used to bring to me a whole stack of information, saying: "This is the report I should give to you." Then I flipped through the 100 pages of the report, full of numbers, thinking: "Oh my God! How can I figure out what this report is saying?" Then I asked a very simple question: "How do you know this information is correct?" I asked this question because if I were to bring this information to my boss, my boss would ask the same thing: "How do you know this information is correct?" Then I received this reply from my workers: "I don't know!" Then why did you bring it to me? So I spent a lot of time and effort trying to figure out what is management.

Later on, I find that the major element in management is called training. Through training, you can pass on what you can do to each individual level of the managers. If they cannot accomplish it, you got to train them. You got to level them up so that they can achieve what they want to do or what you want them to do. Managing is not like "I don't care how you do the task. You just need to deliver the result." No. In that way how do you know the result is right or wrong?

I have observed a lot of cases where the superiors are actually bluffed by the subordinates. Have you ever bluffed your superiors? Have you ever been bluffed by your subordinates? That is really horrible. People are not doing it purposely. They just bluff out of habit. If they can find a chance to bluff they will definitely bluff, just like my staff bringing a whole stack of information and saying "this is my report". But when I asked: "How do you know if this is right?" He could not answer. A lot of people would ask me: "Then how could you know if this is correct?" I know. I got to know the answer. If I do not know the answer, how am I going to manage all these people?

So up to now, let me tell you: when I am managing a church or managing a firm, I do not want to see such a situation: My staff come in and bluff. If I'm bluffed, I will be mocked. If you are my staff, you better answer the question: how do you know that it is correct? If people are successful in bluffing you, they will think you are stupid. The moment they go out of your office, they will roll up their eyes and think you're stupid. After they fool you, after they bluff, they call you stupid. That's horrible!

My peers in the old days often bluffed the boss. That time I was at a lower level. When I observed this, I thought to myself: "My God! All these people are so horrible, man!"

So training is important. If you are not competent, you will be fooled; if you are not competent you will be bluffed. If you are not competent, you cannot even train your staff. You cannot even impart your skills to the lower level. A lot of managers manage by just telling people to do this or that. That's all. Their mindset is: "I don't care how you are going to do the task, as long as you can deliver the result." I have totally changed my thinking. My job is doing training for each individual level, whichever level I can reach. Are you with me? That's why I can keep on growing. When I was in my twenties, I grew until I'm thirty years old. When I was in my thirties, I still kept on growing my skills and my abilities until forty years old. When I reach forty, I continued to grow until I'm 50. I will always keep on growing, from 50 years old to 60, then 60 to 70. I'm not just growing in age, but I'm growing my skills.

I do a lot of training. If you tell me they do not know how to do a certain task, I will train you how to do this. Why? I'm very clear in my mind about what all these tasks are supposed to do. If I do not know what all these are, I'd better learn and I'd better study. I'd better pay my due diligence to do my own research. Are you with me?

Do you want to be this kind of superior, who manage the people through training? Because you are doing training, you are actually managing the people. If you are training them up, people will really give you a thumb up. They will never go out of your office thinking you are stupid.

If you were an emperor in ancient China but you were incompetent (There were a lot of emperors in China's history), you might lose your life without even knowing. Being an emperor is a very risky profession. As an emperor, you cannot do the job simply by giving out commands and instructions telling people to do this or to do that. You'd better be smart. As a Christian, you could start to build yourself with the capability so that in the future when God gives you an assignment you will know how to manage it. Not many people have ever dug out so many details in management.

So the father-in-law, Jethro, actually gave a piece of very good advice: "Select capable men from all the people—men who fear God, trustworthy men who hate dishonest gain—and appoint them as officials over thousands, hundreds, fifties and tens." (Exo 18:21) Moses listened to his father-in-law and did everything he said. Then God was pleased. So don't be an incompetent person. Don't get promoted until you become incompetent for the position. There are a lot of people who are promoted again and again until they become incompetent. No, you will be promoted again and again only if whichever level you are at, you will always pay due diligence and become a competent officer.

Now, do you understand what management is all about? So in the future, I am going to write a book on management. I have developed a set of management theories. I will practice my theories and try to work it out. As long as it works I will put it in my books.

Pay Due Diligence

So, all in all, I wish all of you can pay due diligence in your work. Develop your skills, develop your capabilities and become a competent person. Then get ready to become the officials for tens, for fifties, and for thousands. Are you with me? Then you will get promoted. You will perform in your job. You will perform in the church. You are doing management. When people ask: "What are you doing?", you can reply to them: "Oh, I'm doing management!" If they ask again: "What are you managing?" You can tell them exactly what you have managed: "The major part of my job is doing training, training the ground-level staff, training the team leaders, training the managers." Then you become a CEO. You can become someone with an 'O' in their position. You probably can be a chief finance officer, chief information officer, or chief executive officer. Are you with me? That is called management and you will be promoted to manage the people of God in the church. The church is not the place just to sing Hallelujah. The church is not the place where everyone is feigning happiness and saying empty words like "May the Lord love you" or "I will pray for you". No. The church is the place to develop people to be able to manage the assignment given by God.

Are you OK? Are you ready? Are you ready to take the assignment from God? So you'd better develop yourself. You'd better be equipped. You'd better get ready. You'd better get ready, not just to be trained, but also to conduct training. That is a very important element.

Managing your family, managing the assignment given by God, whether in secular jobs or in the church. Do you want to be one? If you want to be one, I wish you a pleasant endeavor in your future career path. That sounds nice, right?

May the Lord bless you.

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