What I'm Reading Today: Exodus 18-20
Like most folks, I have quite a collection of bad habits. I have a tendency, for instance, to waste too much time surfing the web when I should be reading more constructive materials. I am constitutionally unable to say no to most forms of junk food. And I won't even mention my affinity for consuming too much caffeine. We would be here for days if I went down that path.
Most of those bad habits don't get me in too much trouble. There is one bad habit I have, however, that is incredibly dangerous.
I have an inability to say "No!" to people when they come to me with requests. It doesn't matter what the request is – it might be a request for help putting together a flier for an event; assisting with a transportation need; or a request to buy cookies from a girl scout – you name the request, and I'm likely to meet it.
This habit gets me in trouble more than all of my other bad habits combined. That's because my inability to say "No!" often makes me feel completely overwhelmed and as if I'm in "it" (whatever the particular "it" happens to be at any given moment) alone.
My awareness of this challenge is one reason I so appreciated today's reading from Exodus. In that passage, we get a piece of a conversation Moses had with his father-in-law Jethro. In that conversation Moses reveals to Jethro that "the people come to me with questions about God. When something comes up," Moses then concluded, "they come to me!"
Lot of folks would think such an admission is praiseworthy.
That's because Jethro has a healthy sense of perspective. "This is no way to go about it," Jethro observed in response to Moses' crazy life. "You'll burn out, and the people right along with you. This is way too much for you – you can't do this alone."
What wise words for Jethro to pass along to Moses – and to you and I as well. We CAN'T do everything alone. That simple truth is a great principle to guide us through our days.
I would encourage you to find opportunities throughout your day today to watch yourself as you engage the world. Are you always saying "Yes" to requests - acting as if you can meet everyone's needs on your own; or are you able to break that bad habit and say "No" – or at least, "In order to meet your request, I'm going to need YOUR help."
Til next time …