Hop, Skip, and a Jump
March 5, 2017
By Ed Young
In week one of this series, Pastor Ed Young taught that we need to skip over the superfluous and land on the significant if we are going to discover God’s best for our lives. For us to be able to do that, we must be quick on our feet and make some difficult decisions. In this message, we look once again at the example of Moses and discover the secret to those difficult decisions is often all about who we listen to and what we do with their advice.
INTRO: How do you like the new hairstyle? This hairstyle is not intentional. I got hair transplants. I’m serious. They took, like, thousands of hairs from the back of my head and transferred them to the front of my head. And I’ve documented all of this and we’re going to do a series several months from now, hopefully if the hair grows, and we’re going to call it Bloom Where You’re Planted, or something like that. Now, I love the shaved head. I might just stay with this but I’m just telling you I had hair transplant surgery and it was really interesting. Lisa didn’t really want me to do it so it was just for vanity reasons. Now before you say, “I can’t believe you had a cosmetic procedure!” Well, did you put makeup on today if you’re a lady? Guys, have you ever had any dental work done? All those are cosmetic procedures. Today, though, I want to do that. I want to think about what’s in the back of our minds, maybe in the back that should be in the front. Because when we move some things in the back that should be in the front we’re going to experience some growth.
We’ve been talking about a hop, skip, and a jump around here. We’ve been looking at the life of Moses, one of the great leaders ever. Moses was some kind of cat, man. The guy grew up in Egyptian royalty. He was really handpicked for the presidency of Egypt; yet God tapped him on the shoulder and God said, “Moses, you’re going to do something different. Moses, I’m going to give you a momentum, a leadership scheme, a vibe like the world has never seen before. You’re going to lead my people, 2 million of my people, out of Egyptian slavery into the Promised Land.” That was a serious task, was it not? Leading 2 million Jews who’ve been enslaved for 400 years to the land of milk and honey. That’s what they called the Promised Land. It took someone who understood a hop, skip, and a jump.
ILLUS: Back in the ninth grade I had the opportunity to play some basketball and our coach was a former Marine. And he would always get onto me because he said I had slow feet. So he would yell at me, I mean drop F-bombs and pick them back up, and drop the F-bombs again and pick them back up. I won’t use those as I quote him but I will say what he said to me. “Ed, move those ninth grade feet! You’re too slow! Why don’t you start skipping rope? Why don’t you start skipping rope?” So I did. Here’s a jump rope. Bear with me because I have some boots on. It’s not going to be that easy. I need some love! Well, I learned how to jump rope and my foot speed really increased. And now I have pretty quick feet for someone especially 55 years old, but I was known as kind of a quick person when I played college and all that. And it’s due to this contraption called a jump rope.
To jump rope you need some momentum. To jump rope you need some coordination. To jump rope you need some endurance. The rope is sort of the standard that helps you to leap and to land. That’s the secret of jumping rope. You jump rope. It’s a hop, skip, and a jump and it’s good for you.
All of us are leaders, because all of us influence someone. Leadership is influence so we have something in common with Moses. No, we’re not leading 2 million people but maybe you’re leading several toddlers, which arguably might be more difficult than what Moses did. You’re leading in a marriage. You’re leading at school. You’re leading at the club. You’re a leader, maybe you’re a teacher. You’re a leader, everyone leads. Everyone leads.
Leadership is about a hop, skip, and a jump. What are you landing on? What are you leaping over? Because we need to land on the significant. We need to skip the superfluous and land on the significant. Because when we understand what the significant is, then our lives will be magnificent. I want you to understand me because as a pastor, as your pastor, I want the very best for your life. Now why can I say that? I can say that because God wants the best for your life. I’m simply passing along what’s been passed along to me. When I give counsel, when I encourage you, or when I talk about difficult things, I’m talking from a biblical perspective. It’s not my opinion, it’s not culture’s opinion, it’s not this group or that group, it’s what the Bible (and the Bible is called the Word of God because it’s the breath of God that people wrote down). I’m giving you just what Scripture says about living. Understand that God wants you to have an amazing life, not an easy life. This standard is a standard of pain. The jump rope, I mean it’s a painful process. If you really start jumping rope try jumping rope uninterrupted for 10 minutes. Pain. Living the life that Christ has for you and me, that God wants, it’s not always just a walk in the park. There is definitely some pain to it. And as we look at the life of Moses we go, “Oh, Moses! Wow, so glamorous, so amazing, so unbelievable!” Yet, isn’t it true that we don’t see, we don’t really understand the pain that he dealt with. And in today’s text, Exodus 18, we’re going to peek into the pain, into the angst that he dealt with.
If I see a homemaker or if I see a manager or if I see a CEO, or a coach, I don’t realize the pain that they’re processing to lead. You see me on stage, maybe jumping rope, preaching a sermon. Maybe you’ve read one of my books or whatever. You think, “Oh wow! That’s really cool! It must be just smooth sailing for Ed.” I’m here to tell you, I have processed for 27 years intense pain. You have no idea what I’m processing right now just as a leader. I’m not telling you that for you to go, “oh, poor Ed.” I’m not telling you that to go wow. My life is amazing. God called me to do this. I get to do this I don’t have to do this. I love it. I’m here to tell you, though, what we’re talking about takes some pain. We see some pain in Moses’ life. And here’s what’s so stunning about Moses, and I’m going to give you just a quick, quick, Wikipedia version.
Moses goes to Pharaoh, the leader of Egypt. Now remember, Moses was supposed to be the man in Egypt. He wasn’t be he followed God’s calling. He spent 40 years in the desert working for his father-in-law, Jethro. Not that Jethro! No, no, no. Some of you are going, Jethro? Jethro, his father-in-law, a priest in a place called Midian. He worked for his father-in-law for four decades. So you know Moses’ wife had to be something else, you know? Then at the right time he came into Pharaoh’s office and said,
“It’s time, pharaoh, for you to let the Jewish people go.” Well, that was their slave labor. That was a large part of their economy. And Pharaoh said,
“Heck to the no!” Again, God caused these plagues to strike, pounded the Egyptians with 10 plagues. Pharaoh relinquished the 2 million Jews, were led out from Egyptian slavery, the Red Sea was parted. God fed them manna from Heaven, quail, guided them with his GPS system, a cloud by day, fire by night. All of these supernatural acts and then the Jews had some difficult times. They experienced some pain and guess what they did? They tried to kill Moses. Are you ready for that? These whining, complaining Israelites, God’s chosen people, when things didn’t go their way, after seeing God come through time after time again, they wanted to kill Moses! Moses had the momentum, he had everything going. They wanted to take him out. Pain.
How do you think Moses was feeling? He had a speech impediment, he was reluctant to really step out. God dealt with him. If you ever feel insecure just read about the life of Moses. And now the people are trying to take him out. I’ll never forget Troy Aikman, the great Dallas Cowboy quarterback. I’ll never forget Troy Aikman’s last play as a Dallas Cowboy. He was booed off the field. Troy Aikman! Hall of Famer! Super Bowl icon! Booed off the field by the Dallas Cowboy faithful! You lead, you’re going to get booed. And a lot of us are afraid to lead because we don’t want to get booed. We want to be liked by everybody. You’ve got to get over being liked. I like for people to like me, I want to be liked. Social media is based on likes. How many Likes did I get? Wow! How many clicks? How many follows? Let’s be serious. When we live for Christ, when we do what the Bible wants us to do, people are going to boo. That’s OK. We please God, we have a group of trusted friends in our lives. There’s affinity there. There’s accountability there. As we look at the life of Moses we see he had Aaron, he had Hur, and he had his father-in-law, Jethro.
So we see Moses on this roll, Moses with momentum. We see the Israelites kind of on a roller coaster of emotions. Then out of nowhere you begin to do what God wants you to do all Hell will break loose before all Heaven breaks loose. Did you hear that? The Amalekites show up. The Amalekites were some bad people. The Amalekites attacked the Israelites and this all happened near Mount Sinai, where later on Moses received the 10 Commandments on the top of Mount Sinai. While the battle was taking place Moses went to the top of a mountain. And the Bible says when his hands were lifted, the Israelites won. And he had to have his hands lifted during the whole battle. His friends, Aaron and Hur, part of his small group, they actually put rocks under his elbows to keep his hands lifted and Israel beat, opened up a can, on the Amalekites. When you start leading the Amalekites will attack. The anger-ites, the lust-ites, the past-ites, termites. They’ll come after you. But I’m here to tell you, as long as you focus on Him, as long as you have the right they in your life, and you can’t spell the word they without HE, He in the middle, pointing you to the Lord, you will emerge victorious.
Moses is doing a good job here. He’s skipping. He’s landing on things he should land on and he’s jumping over things he should jump over. But something happens after the battle. After the battle you would think, OK, he’s got this thing down. He’s just a hop, skip, and a jump leader. He’s got it. He’s got momentum, everything is rocking and rolling, but then the Bible says Moses stopped after he came down from the mountain after the victory. He stopped, he began to sink in the quicksand of the secondary, or you could say of the superfluous. So Moses is in his tent. It was made with goat and camel skins, skins on the floor. He was just trying to get some sleep. He was just trying to do everything for everybody. And the Bible says Moses was trying to judge everything. He was trying to hear every dispute that the Jews had, from property disputes, disputes about livestock, marital difficulties, sibling rivalries. Moses said, like I’ve said before, like you’ve said before, if you want it done right. If you want it done right you’ve going to do it yourself. That’s what Moses said.
Well, Jethro shows up, his father-in-law. Jethro, a priest of Midian, Jethro shows up and Moses begins to share with Jethro the wonderful things that God has done in his life, even through the pain. He talks about the purpose and the power of God. It’s vital that you have someone you can be honest with. It’s vital that you can have someone who loves you for who you are, not what you have or don’t have. He had Aaron, Hur, and Jethro. Jethro earned the right to speak into Moses’ life, to give him advice.
Who in your life do you have that you can share what God is doing? Who in your life do you have that you can share these stories with. You might be going, well, I don’t have any stories. If you don’t have any stories, you need to get right with God because you get right with God and begin to live for him, you will have stories. Some of you don’t have any stories to share. Conversely, some of you have stories to share but you don’t have anyone to share them with. That’s why we have small groups at Fellowship Church. That’s why we have connect groups. Community. We grow larger and smaller at the same time.
I think it’s so, so in depth that Jethro and Moses had this kind of connection. And Jethro was absolutely excited, he celebrated Moses’ success, which is the definition of a true friend. Did you get that? It’s easy for me to empathize with you. You go through a hard time, you go through a sickness, you lose a loved one, you have a financial setback. Oh I can easily sympathize and empathize with you. That’s not a real friend. I mean it is but it’s not a real friend. A real friend is like, “Good for you! I celebrate your success!” A good friend celebrates the success of his or her good friend when something good happens to them, and that is what Jethro did. But too often we’re sad over our friend’s successes and we’re a fan over their failures. There’s something about you and me, am I right? When someone close to us has something good happen we’re like, oh, that should’ve been me! We look at social media. Oh, they got to travel there? That should have been me! They got to have their picture with that celebrity? That should have been me. That should have been me.
So Jethro was just chest bumping and high fiving Moses. The next day as you read about Jethro’s life, I believe Jethro became a follower of the Lord because of this. The next day, though, Jethro looked and he looked closer and he examined Moses’ behavior, his leadership, and he thought to himself, this is not good.
Wouldn’t you agree when you become a leader, the more you lead, the more responsibility you have, the less likely you are to listen to advice? It’s so true. The more responsibility you have, the more leadership chips that you have, the less you listen to advice. Oh I’m the man! I’m the girl! Who are you to tell me? Very, very interesting, yet Moses didn’t have that. If we are open to learning, if we’re open to advice, if not only we hear it but do it, leadership is unlimited in your life and mine. But the moment we stop learning, the moment we stop taking advice, is the moment we get stuck in the superfluous. Ask the right people the right questions and get the right answers. There are 2,400 questions in the Bible and Jethro asked Moses these questions.
ILLUS: And picture lines at the airport. I mentioned lines last week, I mentioned TSA and I mentioned the airport lines, and you know, they do the best they can but a lot of people say it’s very, very insufficient. I said that and then I took a flight out to the west coast and the first two people I met that worked with TSA are active members of Fellowship Church. And I was like, wow, Ed. Why did you say that? Such an idiot. But anyway, you know what I’m saying to you.
Think about the lines at the airport. Think about that. We have to just wait in line. Wait, wait, wait, wait, wait. That’s what was happening with Moses. All these people were around him and Jethro saw the insufficiency and he goes,
“Moses, what are you doing?” I’m reading out of Exodus 18:14, “and why do you alone sit as judge?” Yes, you’re God’s skipper but you’ve forgotten how to skip. Instead of skipping you’re just sitting there. And it’s not happening. Moses did something that we so often do. He lived by the tyranny of the urgent as opposed to what was really important in his life.
We can’t live by urgencies, we have to live by what’s important. An urgency is not an emergency. An emergency is all hands on deck. We’re all about that. An urgency is what people place on you. It’s what people place on me. That’s fine, that’s dandy. We have to live by what’s important. Never pray about what your priorities should be, because that’s a dumb prayer. Yeah, there are such a thing as dumb prayers. Our priorities are mentioned in Scripture. Here’s the phrase that pays. God’s principles are our priorities, and the commitments that we make underscore and highlight those priorities. Does that make sense? God’s principles, master, mission, mate, etc. God’s principles are our priorities. There’s no arguing. So it’s your commitment and my commitment to those principles and priorities that either give us the thumbs up, we’re having great momentum, or the thumbs down, we’re stuck in the superfluous.
So he told Moses, “Moses, this is sad.” And Moses was doing this because he was reading the comments section. Moses was doing this because he was listening to the groaning and the moaning of these whining Israelites. He was listening to the boo-birds and it messed him totally up. And Jethro was like, “Moses, you’ve got a small group. Listen to God, follow him, listen to the people who love you not for who you are or what you have, but who love you because God loves you. Lean into them and delegate the rest.”
Let’s skip down to Exodus 18:19. He said, “Listen to me (this is Jethro talking), I’ll 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.”
He’s teaching Moses about skipping. Moses, skip the superfluous, land on the significant. When you land on the significant your life will be magnificent. God’s principles are my priorities and they’re carried out by my commitments. That’s how we roll, Moses. It’ll change your life. And as you keep reading he said, “You’re going to wear yourself out.” In the literal Hebrew it means you’re going to become old before your time.
“So Moses,” Jethro said, “you’re wearing yourself out. You’re wearing the people out. You’re wearing your family out, and you’re wearing yourself out.” And that is what’s in play in this one and only life when we get stuck in the superfluous. We wear people around us out, we wear our family out, and we wear ourselves out. Take some advice!
Proverbs 19:3, very convicting verse. “People ruin their lives by their own foolishness and then are angry at the Lord.” So people totally screw up, totally do what they want to do, and then they blame God. You can’t make this up! It’s as old as dirt. As old as the sands in the wilderness between Egypt and Canaan. As old as the dirt in Canaan. As old as the garden of Eden. Because man, we have that tendency to blame, do we not? We mess up and then we blame.
God wants the best for your life and mine. When God says no, and he says no, it’s to protect you and to protect me. He doesn’t say no to rain on our parade. When God says yes, go for it! So put your no on God’s no, and your yes on God’s yes. Listen to advice. That’s why it’s critical to have a small group. That’s why it’s critical to go to church. If you just show up, that’s most of it. God’s going to do the rest. Who are you taking advice from.
ILLUS: Let me sit down for a second and maybe this will help me, because this could be therapeutic. As a pastor, and as I said earlier, I love being a pastor. As a pastor I have courtside seats, a backstage pass, to people and to lives and I’ve seen for 27 years at Fellowship Church amazing life change stores. Unbelievable, supernatural stuff. I’ve seen people who were involved in drugs and alcohol addiction, sexual addiction, I’ve seen them just totally get ambushed by God’s grace and I’ve seen God just change their lives. I’ve seen marriages that you would think there is no way this marriage is going to work, and now the marriage is flourishing. I’ve seen wayward kids come back home. I’ve seen people whose finances were in total shambles begin to go, “Wow! God, you’re God. I’m going to bring the tithe.” And now God is blessing them so much it’s ridiculous! And I get to do this for a living! I love it! The triumphs. But also the tragedy. What’s the tragedy that I deal with?
Over decades I’ve had the opportunity to sit down and talk to people one on one as a pastor talking to a married couple or family, and I’ve told people in no uncertain terms. Here’s what the Bible says. I’m simply passing on to you what Scripture says. This is not my opinion but if you continue to sleep in the wrong bed your life is going to end up in the deep weeds. If you continue to have sex with this stripper outside the marriage bed your life is going to hydroplane and you are going to pay the piper. If you continue to rob God financially it’s not going to look good for you. If you continue to skip church or show up once every six weeks it’s not pretty. And I want to go – because these people do the opposite – do you think (I’ve never said this but let me tell you this)… I want to look at these people and go, “Do you think I’m an idiot? Do you really think we need another member at Fellowship Church? Really? We have one of the largest churches in America. You think that’s what I’m about? You think we need more money? Really? You’ve going to be kidding me. Do you think I want to rain on your sexual parade by saying God wants you to live a pure life? Do you think I get a joy? No, no, no. I want the best for you because God wants the best for you. It’s as simple as that.” And what’s so scary is I’ve seen so many people just bump up, bump up, bump up against the things of God and they’re right there. They’re just one prayer away, one decision away from nirvana and they blow it. That keeps me up at night. I can tell you stories that would make everyone in here weep. That close. That close.
Moses listened to the advice of Jethro. I mean, I’m not Moses. You’re not Moses. We’re talking Moses! This guy was alpha male, type A, one of the great leaders ever! He listened. And we’re going to find out he did what Jethro told him to do. But that’s next time. That’s next time. Because we have too many people hearing, hearing, hearing, and not enough people doing, doing, doing. But that’s next time.
But I do have to throw in one more verse. This is kind of funny. Because remember, we’re taking things from the back and implanting them in the front for growth, and this is a leadership principle. Exodus 18:27, after Moses and Jethro had hung out the Bible says, “Then Moses sent his father-in-law on his way.” That gives you biblical evidence that you should only spend about 24-48 hours with your in-laws. So that’s going to free a lot of you up.
This jump rope is the standard, caused me to jump. A hop, skip, and a jump. Jump rope. This is your standard and mine. It causes us to hop, skip, and a jump. I’ll see you next time as we skip back to Fellowship.
[Ed leads in closing.]