Parashat Yitro

Two Minutes of Torah with Rabbi Abbi Sharofsky

But Moses’ father-in-law said to him, “The thing you are doing is not right; you will surely wear yourself out, and these people as well. For the task is too heavy for you; you cannot do it alone.”

—Exodus 18: 17-18

How often do we look around our offices, schools, synagogues, and homes and think, “There is so much to do and I’m the only one showing up!” Then we think about how we got to this point. It is exhausting, physically and mentally, and too often leads to frustration, resentment, and burnout.  Enter the coach – the person who forces you to look at your world and make some changes. There is a growing field of life coaches, executive coaches, mentors, and consultants for leaders in the corporate, non-profit, faith based, and educational worlds, bringing tools to make leaders stronger and more effective.

This week’s Torah portion, Yitro, introduces us to Moses’ father-in-law, an experienced leader in his own right.  Yitro sees the demands and expectations being placed on Moses, and tells him the situation needs to change.  Yitro is the first executive coach, stepping in to help Moses design a management system that benefits the people and their leader. He helps Moses identify his strengths and weaknesses and build a team of people who can handle the everyday operations and advise on larger issues.  With Yitro’s help, Moses forms what could possibly be the first-ever board of directors for a faith group.

Every leader, especially needs a Yitro, . Someone who can recognize the problems before they start, have the confidence to point them out, and the integrity to help change the system. Our leaders must be able to ask for help and receive help when it is offered and to develop support systems .  In the field of Jewish community relations, this involves building and joining  coalitions that allow us to leverage the wisdom, political capital, leadership capacity and moral validation of our allies.  
As Yitro said, none of us can do it alone.