Three Qualities to Look For When You Build a Team

Daily Reflection / Produced by The High Calling
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“Select capable men … who fear God, trustworthy men who hate dishonest gain … Have them serve as judges for the people at all times, but have them bring every difficult case to you.”

Exodus 18:13-26

Do you remember group projects in school? Nothing is harder than learning to work with a team of your peers. It was hard when I was a teenager, and it’s hard now that I’m past middle age.

One high school group project in science went particularly sour. We were never able to agree on what we wanted the finished product to look like. Most of the time, we argued and fought and lobbied for our own ideas. Our project was a dismal failure, and our presentation was embarrassing. Afterward, my dad and I were talking about how the project could have gone differently, and his advice surprised me. “In some jobs,” he said, “the kind of behavior you’re describing would get somebody fired.”

A good team shares the load. Each member of the team is trustworthy, motivated, and highly competent.

This week at The High Calling, we’ve been talking about avoiding burn out. Delegating and sharing the load with a team is an important step toward sustainable work. This was the first part of Jethro’s advice to Moses, his son-in-law, but it wouldn’t have been good advice without the next part.

The team Moses built would determine his success. And the same is true for any of us.

So what makes a good team?

  1. People must be capable—highly competent, highly skilled for the task at hand.
  2. People must fear God—humbly understanding their own limitations.
  3. People must be trustworthy—motivated to serve others rather than themselves.

In a sense, we burn out because we aren’t training good people, empowering them and motivating them to do good work. If we remember the wisdom of Jethro and if God so commands, we will be able to endure the pressures of our daily work as Moses endured his.


The next day Moses took his seat to serve as judge for the people, and they stood around him from morning till evening. When his father-in-law saw all that Moses was doing for the people, he said, “What is this you are doing for the people? Why do you alone sit as judge, while all these people stand around you from morning till evening?”

Moses answered him, “Because the people come to me to seek God’s will. Whenever they have a dispute, it is brought to me, and I decide between the parties and inform them of God’s decrees and instructions.”

Moses’ father-in-law replied, “What you are doing is not good. You and these people who come to you will only wear yourselves out. The work is too heavy for you; you cannot handle it alone. Listen now to me and I will give you some advice, and may God be with you. You must be the people’s representative before God and bring their disputes to him. Teach them his decrees and instructions, and show them the way they are to live and how they are to behave. But 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. Have them serve as judges for the people at all times, but have them bring every difficult case to you; the simple cases they can decide themselves. That will make your load lighter, because they will share it with you. If you do this and God so commands, you will be able to stand the strain, and all these people will go home satisfied.”

Moses listened to his father-in-law and did everything he said. He chose capable men from all Israel and made them leaders of the people, officials over thousands, hundreds, fifties and tens. They served as judges for the people at all times. The difficult cases they brought to Moses, but the simple ones they decided themselves.

Exodus 18:13-26

QUESTIONS FOR FURTHER REFLECTION: Think about a team of people that you work with in your job or your community? On a scale of one to ten, how healthy is this team? Are you a capable and trustworthy member of this team? Are you God-fearing?

PRAYER: Dear God, I understand the need to be capable. I understand the need to be trustworthy. But honestly, God, I have always struggled to understand what it means to fear you. Fear is not a virtue in our culture, yet the Scripture calls us again and again to fear you. Fear the Lord. Help me to fear you, to understand my place in the world, and so to better serve those around me. In the name of Jesus who feared you more than he feared the cross, Amen.