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Who is your Jethro? -- Shabbat Message 2/6/2015

Posted on 02/06/2015 @ 11:00 AM

How does someone become a leader?

Well, join BBYO, of course, but beyond that - there is no one single answer. Leadership is made up of many components. A leader is a motivator and a champion of others. A leader is modest and has humility. A leader is a student. A good leader surrounds themselves with others who are just as smart, if not smarter than them, because a leader knows that one person shouldn’t be relied on for everything, and the leader certainly doesn’t have all the answers. A leader seeks out – and graciously accepts – feedback from others.

In this week’s Torah portion, Yitro, the Israelites have passed through the Red Sea to escape the Egyptians and settled into their trek through the desert. Moses’ father-in-law, Jethro, visits and sees that each day Moses sets up a post where the people can come to him with problems and disputes.

“But when Moses’ father-in-law saw how much he had to do for the people, he said, ‘What is this thing that you are doing to the people? Why do you act alone, while all the people stand about you from morning until evening?’” (Exodus 18:14)

In Jethro’s eyes, the mark of a leader is not one who holds all responsibility for themselves. It is one who empowers others. Jethro knew that Moses would never make it if he held all power to himself. Moses begins to argue but ultimately heeds the advice of his father-in-law. Jethro is able to show him that by appointing advisors and creating a system for these disputes, others can take on further responsibility and Moses can free his time for other matters.

This interaction begs the question, who is your Jethro? Who is the person in your life who pushes you to reconsider your actions? Each of us play a role as leaders, but do we surround ourselves by people who will speak the truth, and more importantly, do we take value in what they say? Are we Jethro to others – supporting them and challenging them in equal parts? We need to have Jethros, yes, but we also need to BE Jethro, especially to our teens and peers.

As we move into the spring, take stock of your work and those who surround you. Make it known that you want feedback and to be challenged. When you do this for yourself and for others, you will ultimately take Jethro’s advice and allow others lead alongside you.

This Shabbat Message was written by Aleeza Lubin, Director of Jewish Enrichment for the Central Hub. Want to write one yourself? Email dje@bbyo.org and we’ll get you going!

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