Hop, Skip, and a Jump
“The Art of Skipping”
February 25, 2017
By Ed Young
When it comes to the life God wants us to experience, one of the most crucial aspects is something we naturally do as kids but stop doing as adults. It’s all about skipping! What does skipping have to do with life? In this message, Pastor Ed Young looks back at the account of Moses and Jethro in the Old Testament and shows us how the art of skipping is something that will take us all to the next level!
INTRO: I love to skip. It’s really a great workout because what’s amazing is as kids we do it naturally but as adults we stop skipping. Today I’m going to argue that children of God, you and me, should not stop skipping. I’m going to talk about the art of skipping. I’m going to talk about how important it is to make a hop, a skip, and a jump. A hop, boom, a skip, and a jump. Whoo! Wears me out.
I was thinking about that because it’s so, so vital in our culture today as we live our lives to skip things. When you skip you’re in the air just for a while and when you’re in the air you have a unique perspective. You can see things you normally wouldn’t see. Then you hit the ground and when you land the trick is you don’t stay on the ground too long because you’re skipping, right? You’re skipping. The same is true with hop and the same is true with a jump. We’re always skipping, we’re always skipping, we’re always – if we’re doing what I believe God wants us to do – skipping. We need to understand that we skip the superfluous and land on the significant. Because when we land on the significant our lives will be magnificent. So if you want to understand what your priorities are, they’re already written down in Scripture, in the Bible. If you’re not a follower of Christ, if you want to read the best book ever penned on priorities, read this. And I always say, and sometimes people do the pushback, I always say if you’re praying about what your priorities should be that’s really a dumb prayer. I mean, you’re wasting your time, you’re wasting God’s time. Because the priorities have already been set forth for all of us. Prioritizing your life is about skipping.
I love to think about the children of Israel because back in the Old Testament you’ve probably heard of the account before, the Israelites had been slaves in Egyptian bondage for hundreds of years. It was a very difficult plight, it was a difficult situation that they found themselves in. God picked someone to lead out, someone to be the head skipper, because he is going to understand the importance of skipping. His name was Moses, and you’ve probably heard of Moses before. Moses walked into Pharaoh’s office, the man of Egypt, the leader of Egypt, and basically said, “Let my people go.” And he said no. Then God rained 10 plagues on the Egyptians and these plagues pounded the people. Because of that and because of an act of God and many supernatural things the children of Israel were free. They were emancipated. I want you to think in your mind 2 million Israelites following Moses. Two million people, and this is the context of the whole situation, the context of skipping. Two million people who have just been freed up, they’re following Moses. And God does this stuff like parting the Red Sea, feeding them from Heaven, providing water from a rock, just crazy, crazy stuff. A cloud guided them in the day, fire by night, and these people complained.
Isn’t that just how we are? We love to complain. We love to murmur. We love to go negative. God had given them a great vision, yet these people were like vision vandals. Any time someone has a cool idea usually or let’s take this hill or let’s do this or that or let’s make that change, what happens? Well, I’m not sure we can do that. We’ve never done that before. And that’s where I’ve always sat. And we’ve always had things like that around our family. Yeah, we’ve always related as a husband and wife in that manner. Well, we complain. We do the pushback.
I don’t know how Moses took it. I really don’t because in Exodus 17, the Israelites, after seeing all of these supernatural acts of God, the Israelites faced the Amalekites. Now just bear with me during this history lesson. The Amalekites, they were some bad people. I mean nasty people. They were horrible, demonic, they were the offspring of Esau, if you do your research. They attacked the Israelites and the Israelites basically opened up a can on the Amalekites. Where do you think Moses was?
OK now think just for a second. Moses started out with the people, then he got in front of the people, then he got above the people. He was on this mountain watching the battle play out. His hands were lifted. Aaron and Hur, his armor bearers, were holding his hands in the air. As long as his hands were in the air the Israelites were opening a can. The moment his hand began to fall, the Amalekites were winning. So these people helped him. They put rocks to keep his hands in the air. The Israelites defeated the Amalekites. Moses was above the people, on another level.
So to think about skipping he should have stayed on that level, but when you skip you have to leap, but then you land. He landed back with the people. He should have continued to be with them for a little while, in front of them for a little while, above them for a little while. But what happened? He began to get stuck in the superfluous. He began to get caught in the mud and the mire. And it’s really stunning, it’s really hard to believe a guy like Moses, such a leader, such a difference-maker, such a skipper in many ways, all of a sudden he gets caught.
I don’t care if you’re a homemaker. I don’t care if you’re a CEO. I don’t care if you’re a coach or a teacher or a lawyer or a surgeon. I don’t care if you’re a student, we can make that same mistake. God is a God (we’re going to find out) of delegation. God delegated leadership to Moses. He has delegated leadership and influence to you. You might say to yourself, I’m not doing hardly a thing. I mean, what I’m doing doesn’t really matter. Am I really impacting anyone? The answer is a resounding yes if you’re a follower of Christ. Yes, yes, yes.
Think about the essence of God. Think about God’s personality. There’s delegation within the personality of God. God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit, that’s the Trinity. God the Father delegated the salvation of the world to God the Son. God the Son delegated counsel, comfort, and conviction to God the Holy Spirit. They’re equal in form, unique in function. You’ve got delegation in the very heart and soul of God. Moreover, you have delegation, as I just alluded to, in our lives.
Then you’ve got delegation, or you could even say skipping, in the only institution that’s analogous to God’s relationship to his people, that of marriage. And I don’t want to step on any toes or make anybody freak out but there’s delegation in marriage. Husbands delegate to their wives. Wives delegate to their husbands. One is not more important than the other. One is not superior, one is not inferior. They’re equal in form, unique in function. This plays out in the church, plays out in companies, plays out in parenting. What is parenting? Parenting is skipping. It’s landing on certain things, leaping over others. It’s priorities, it’s delegation. Delegation.
Moses, I can’t even believe this, Moses was stuck in the depths of a delegation frustration. The guy couldn’t move, he couldn’t get out. Because when he skipped off of that mountain, after that massive victory, he got stuck. Now think about this. Go back to the children of Israel. They are camped at the base of Mount Sinai. The 10 Commandments haven’t been given yet. They’re resting. It’s almost like, wow. It’s crazy what’s happened. Everybody’s looking back going whoa! Whoa, man. God is so good. God is so good. God is so good. So we find Moses in a tent.
Now tents back then, to give you a history lesson, were made of goat or camel’s fur, literally animal skins were the floor. Moses had the big house on the cul de sac.
And the Bible says that his father-in-law came to visit. It’s kind of interesting when your father-in-law, those of us who are married, comes to visit. Is it not? I mean, your father-in-law, the in-laws are here. That adds some pressure. Don’t act like it doesn’t. I know, I know, I know. Things are different when the in-laws show up.
So Jethro, don’t you love that name? Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law, Jethro was the priest of Midian. He was a pagan priest and Moses spent 40 years – think about this guys – four decades working, toiling in the desert for Jethro. So they had this relationship. So Jethro shows up with the family and he’d already heard about all these amazing things that God had done.
So he is in the process, I believe, of giving his life to the Lord. Because he began to go, “Whoa! Moses, this is just amazing what God is doing! God is truly the one and true God.” The Bible says when Moses saw him he bowed to him and kissed him. I’m not saying we do that when we see our in-laws, but that’s what Moses did.
And then I think it says something very profound. It says that Moses shared with him everything God had been doing. And the Bible says “the good things that God had done and was doing.”
Who do you have in your life that you can share the good things of what God is doing? That list can’t be long. We can’t advertise that. We can’t post about that. We can’t go on Instagram or Snapchat or Instagram Live or Facebook or all the other social media mediums and just tell everybody these intimate details. We do, though, have to have some people in our lives that we can share with regarding what God has done. The reason Fellowship Church grows smaller as it grows larger is that very reason. That’s why if you’re not involved in a small group, if you’re not serving somewhere, you’re missing out. Because the greatest relationships that you can imagine are for you right here at Fellowship Church. Whether you’re here or at one of our many locations and you indeed can share with the Jethros that you meet.
And you know what I love about Jethro, too? He applauded Moses. He could have easily been jealous. You know, sometimes we all struggle (I know I do) with envy and jealousy. Someone will do something great or someone will get a windfall or someone will have this opportunity and we go, wow. You know, might as well be me! Jealousy, envy. I love Jethro because Jethro celebrated Mo! Jethro celebrated Mo, and because he celebrated Mo he gave Mo the momentum that he needed. Moses’ momentum stopped in the desert. It stopped at the base of Mount Sinai. He had this momentum from God. Everything was going well. He was in the flow. Suddenly, though, when he jumped off that mountain after the Amalekites got jammed by the Israelites, he stopped his mo. We’ve got to have momentum. The people in our lives, the Jethros in our lives, will give us momentum. And Jethro said, “Moses, this is amazing what God is doing. Good for you! Great for you!” It’s so important that we have friends that aren’t sad over our successes, that aren’t a fan of our failures (which many people are) but it’s important to have friends that celebrate.
Pretty much everybody can empathize. Something bad happens, “Oh, I’m so sorry. Man that’s terrible! Oh no!” That’s easy. And sometimes we think she sympathized with me. He empathized with me. That means they must be the right they. No. The right they will always have something to say when you do something great. When God uses you in a wonderful way. Who really celebrates with you? That is the right they. That’s the right they.
That’s why I love this 12-step group called Celebrate Recovery. I like that we’re celebrating the recovery, whether it be with substance abuse, whether it be with a hurtful habit or whatever it is, we should celebrate one another. Learn to celebrate.
ILLUS: At the C3 Conference, Pastor J. Don George was one of our guests and J. Don George for 27 years has been one of Fellowship’s biggest cheerleaders. He’s pastored one of the biggest churches anywhere right here in the Dallas/Fort Worth area, yet he’s always, always celebrated what God has done at Fellowship Church. So as I was thinking and praying about who do I invite to Fellowship? I thought about J. Don George. He’s 80 years old. Well, people who have a lot of experience, we’re going to find out, give the best advice. Let me say that again and I’m going to talk about that next time. People that have been there, people that have a lot of skins on the wall, give the best advice.
So we’re going to find out that Moses not only receives the celebration of Jethro, but also – and I love this – he receives the critique of Jethro as well. And you know Moses had it going on if he’s receiving critique from his father-in-law. Wow. Wow. So you see how everything is happening. You see the relationship between Moses and Jethro. You see it developing after decades. God using Moses in a magnificent way. He’s just skipping and he’s leading 2 million Israelites to the Promised Land. These people, I’m just going to be flat out and totally honest with you, they were some of the whiniest, most negative, in a lot of ways pitiful group of people imaginable. I mean, these people were trolls. They were haters. One little thing didn’t go their way. In fact, before this whole scenario happened they thought about stoning Moses. And I’m not talking about <inhale> this. I’m talking about killing him, killing him just because they didn’t have enough water, just because they got tired of bread, manna from Heaven, just because they got tired of quail burgers, just because it was too hot. And they even began to say, “Oh, I wish we were back in slavery!”
So what happens? Whenever you’re a skipper you’re going to have people that attack you. You’re going to have people that don’t celebrate, people that hate. And Moses went through this. So Jethro and Moses, they greet each other. They have this time of worship. Moses tells Jethro, “Hey, here is what God has been doing.” Jethro says, “Yay, God!”
I believe Jethro has a transformational experience with the Lord. They spend the night in this beautiful tent. They wake up the next morning and here is where everything goes cra-cray. Because you would think, oh, Moses, he was on top of the mountain leading, watching his boys take out the Amalekites. Surely he wouldn’t get stuck in the mire and the mud of the mundane. Surely he wouldn’t miss doing what God had called him to do. Surely he wouldn’t get off track. Surely he wouldn’t read the comments section online. Surely he wouldn’t respond to all the critics. Surely he wouldn’t say, “Well, I want people to like me.” Moses? Come on, Moses. You’re a leader. You’re going to do that? Now in Exodus 18:13, the next day after being reunited with his father-in-law, after giving his father-in-law the bro-hug and the bro-kiss, “The next day Moses too his seat to serve as judge for the people and they stood around him from morning til night.” That is so sad. Because Moses, let’s say it again, was sucked into the superfluous. Messed up in the mundane, trying to be the man for all situations, a temptation that all of us have.
Again, you’re a homemaker. Think about the mom. You’re like, this doesn’t relate to me. Are you kidding me? You’re a leader. You’re an influencer. And maybe, mom, you’re not skipping enough. Because a lot of moms say, like Arnold, “Get to the choppa!” You are <helicopter sound effect> helicoptering your kids. <helicopter> Not really delegating to them, not giving them responsibility, not giving them some freedom, some rope to go, OK. Do what God has called you to do. Because the goal of parenting is teaching and training your kids to leave, to individuate. Now I understand once a parent, always a parent. But I’m going to challenge you in this series, moms, to think about what do you skip? What do you land on? What do you leap over? Because skipping takes rhythm. Skipping takes focus. Skipping takes muscle. Skipping is about cardio. Are you skipping?
Moses wasn’t skipping. Moses, how about some leader-skip, brother? No leader-skip, no leader-skip. And then in Exodus 18:14, “His father-in-law, Jethro, when he saw what Moses was doing…” You know what Moses was doing? He plopped his rear – and you know you’re not doing what God wants you to do when you’re sitting around all day. Verse 13, he was just sitting there, people lined up, people waiting in line to do what? To tell Moses their complaints, to speak whinese to him, to complain to him, to tell him this or that, to tell him what was wrong with the situation, to complain about the food, the weather, whatever! They were just complaining, complaining, complaining, complaining, complaining.
And then Jethro looks at Moses and goes, “What you’re doing isn’t good.” We might say, “What?!” or we might say, “Moses, what you’re doing is stupid!” It was that strong.
Jethro is like, “You are the leader of 2 million people and now you have sunk into the superfluous to such a degree that you’re sitting on your butt all day, listening to all this crapola? All this junk? All this drama? You’re wasting time, Mo! You’ve ruined the momentum!”
And these two questions, these are critical questions that Jethro just lobs to Moses. I love them, and these questions are simple yet they are so, so profound. Because leadership, I’m talking about in marriage, leadership, I’m talking about on the team, in church, leadership in any venue is taking people not where they want to go, but where they need to go. And what was Moses doing? Moses was subjecting himself to all of the wants and the whims and the whiners of these people. Pathetic, Moses!
But look, God always brings someone into our lives when we’re screwing up, isn’t that true? Always, always, always, there’s somebody there. There’s a Jethro, and it’s my prayer that this series will be a <whoom!> a jolt of Jethro to you. Skip over the superfluous and land on the significant. Only do what only you can do, and here are the questions to ask yourself. Here’s what Jethro asked Moses. “What are you doing?” Basically he says, “What is this you’re doing for the people?” Ask yourself that question every day. What am I doing? Now again, if you’re not a believer listen up, but this is really specifically for believers, and also for those who are not yet Christ-followers. Just what are you doing? What is the meaning of life? What is it that you do? What is it that you do? What? Critical question.
Then the next question, “Why do you alone sit as judge?” Why? You’re by yourself? Christianity is not a solo sport. That’s why we’re to be a part of the body of Christ. What are you doing? Why are you doing it? So simple, so basic, so rudimentary. Yet for a long time in the leadership scheme that God has called me to at Fellowship we’ve asked ourselves questions like that. I’ve asked myself that question. Ed, what are you doing, man? What are you doing? Why are you doing it? Scary questions. There are over 2,400 questions in the Bible and so many of us don’t ask enough questions.
Why? #1 – pride. Pride. If I ask a question that means I don’t know it all. And I’m talking especially to the testosterone crowd here. I can’t ask a question because I’m the man! And then right behind that, fear. Oh man, I’m fearful to ask that because if I ask that, that might mean I’ve got to change something in my life. So we go around silent, missing the beauty and the power of the question. Because when I ask a question I’m always seeking knowledge. And most of us are just two to three questions away from a breakthrough. Let me say that again. We’re two to three questions away from a breakthrough. Ask questions. You can always learn, no matter who you’re talking to, about just asking them questions.
ILLUS: I know a lot about fishing. I don’t know everything but I know a lot. I’ve never talked to an angler who has out-dumbed me. I always out-dumb anglers. Why? Am I being deceptive? No. I’m not going to brag about my knowledge. I tell myself, “Ed, shut up! You might learn something from someone that fishes with a cane pole in a little river as opposed to fly-fishing for tarpon!” So don’t act like, oh, I can’t learn from him. I can’t learn from her. Oh, we can learn from everyone. Ask yourself in your prayer life. God, what am I doing? Why am I doing this? I think these questions are so liberating, so penetrating. You’re in a marriage? Ask people who have more experience than you, who you respect, questions. You’re in a parenting dilemma? Ask people your age and others, people who have gone through similar circumstances. I’ve got to ask you a question. Whatever it is, ask the right people the right questions to get the right answers.
Now next time – I’ve got to stop now – we are going to find out what happens when we seriously start skipping. And we’re going to find out the finer points of skipping. So I want you just to think about this and to pray about this and to say, Lord, I’m ready to skip. I’m ready to skip, to skip over – wow, I was up high on that one – the superfluous and land on the significant. Let’s do it.
[Ed leads in closing prayer.]