#204: Do You Need a Powerful Influencer in Your Life?

Leadership Lessons from the Lesser Known

Is there a powerful influencer in your life? Do you even need one?

Powerful Influencer

Moses had one, and his advice dramatically changed the way Moses led the people of Israel for the rest of his life. Moses’ key influencer was Jethro, his father-in-law, who made a brief appearance in Exodus 18.

Many thanks to Barbara K for suggesting Jethro as the topic for this month’s “Lessons from the Lesser Known.”

The Influencer Backstory

Moses was leading the people of Israel out of Egypt on their way to the Promised Land. Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law, met up with Moses as they traveled. Moses recounted to Jethro all that the Lord had done for the people of Israel. Jethro proclaimed the greatness of God and brought offerings and sacrifices to God (Exodus 18:11-12).

The next day Moses resumed his usual activity judging issues between the people of Israel from morning until night (Exodus 18:13).

Jethro the Influencer

Jethro questioned Moses, asking why he was doing all the judging for the entire nation by himself. Moses explained that his role as leader was to judge disputes between the people and to teach them God’s statutes and laws (Exodus 18:15-16).

He bluntly told Moses his way of doing things was not good because he would wear himself out personally tending to the needs of all the people.

Jethro advised Moses to divide his responsibilities among other trusted men of God. He should appoint men over thousands, hundreds, and tens to judge the minor disputes among the people. These men were to be God-fearing, trustworthy, and hate bribes.

Moses was to continue to personally teach the people God’s statutes and laws (Exodus 18:17-22).

His final direction to Moses was to consult with God and act if God so directed him.

Moses listened to Jethro’s advice and did everything he told him by appointing leaders over the people, while Moses continued in his responsibility to teach the people about God.

Lessons for us About Influencers

Moses exhibited two characteristics common among type A leaders: 1) he thought he could do it all, and 2) he had lost sight of what was most important.

Many of us tend to exhibit the same two characteristics; we think we can do it all, and in the attempt to do it all we lose sight of what is most important.

This tendency is precisely why leaders need key influencers in their lives. We need someone we can trust to give us honest, sometimes blunt feedback, and keep us focused on doing what is most important.

What Should You Look for in a Key Influencer?

There are at least four important takeaways about key influencers from the example between Jethro and Moses.

  • People who we allow to be key influencers in our lives should themselves be men and women of God.
  • Key influencers should feel free to speak the truth in love, even bluntly when necessary.
  • Leaders should listen to the advice of key influencers and bring it before God in prayer.
  • Leaders need to be action oriented. Once the advice is given and confirmed by God in prayer, act. Do it now!

Join the Conversation

As always, questions and comments are welcome. Is there a key influencer in your life? What criteria do you look for in a key influencer? What role do they play in decisions you make?

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Category: Relationships | Healthy Alliances


Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • John says:

    I’ve been fortunate to have a few influencers in my life. There’s nothing like having a trusted, ethical person who can help advise you on decisions.

    • Ron says:

      Me too John. Though I wish I had realized how valuable these key influencers were in my young life. I would like to think I would have spent more time learning from them! Older and wiser now I wish some of them were still around to share their wisdom.

  • Ben Thornton says:

    I really like the point made about having key influencers who are good role models. I also think that it is important to recognize that you need help in the first place. If Moses wouldn’t have recognized that he needed help, he wouldn’t have reached out to Jethro and been able to receive the help he needed.

  • Megan Clements says:

    I agree that it is important to have key influencers in life. I have had a few growing up who have really helped me on the path that I am on. One specific time in my life was when I decided to transfer schools my sophomore year, and I had an old junior high teacher help me through that by pointing me to God and trying to see what His will was there. I think it is very important for them to also be men or women of God because they can always point you back to the bigger picture and what truly matters in life.

  • Kelsey Hager says:

    I am glad that you wrote about Jethro and Moses this week because it has been a very long time since I last thought about the importance of his positive influence. Personally, I have the tendency to get burnt out when doing routine things. I always start chapel with the best intentions but it always starts to feel like a chore as time goes on and I lose sight of what is important. What I have learned from this reading is the importance of seeking advice from men/women of God in other, perhaps more unstructured, areas and settings of my life. Personal questions about faith discussed with friends over a Chick-fil-A meal could bring much more meaning into your life because your exact questions are being addressed. Doing this (along with prayer) will allow me to give my full attention to lessons that will help develop my faith.

  • Katherine J Hall says:

    I loved this article! It is very important to have not only leader in our lives, but quality leaders/influencers in our lives. Being a senior in college, this article inspired me to find a leader/mentor now that will help me transition from school to real-world life. Not only would this help me transition, but my mentor would even help me find a career I would love after graduation. Thanks for the inspiration!
    -Katherine Hall

  • Allison Pepper says:

    I loved this article and felt it was such a great reminder to me. Like Moses, I have a very type A personality and need to constantly be reminded that I can’t do it all. I think influencers are so vital and crucial to listen to. My dad is a huge influencer in my life and is always looking out for me. I am so thankful for the direction he has pointed my life in.