The Shared Burden

Today’s Journey Through Scripture Readings
Exodus 16-18, Matthew 18:1-20

24 Moses listened to his father-in-law’s suggestions and did everything that he had said. 25 Moses chose capable persons from all Israel and set them as leaders over the people, as officers over groups of thousands, hundreds, fifties, and tens. 26 They acted as judges for the people at all times. They would refer the hard cases to Moses, but all of the minor cases they decided themselves. 27 Then Moses said good-bye to his father-in-law, and Jethro went back to his own country (Exodus 18:24-27, Common English Bible).


I had a friend, some years ago, who was a school teacher. He taught industrial technology. It was metal shop on steroids. He loved working with kids and seeing them improve. Many of his students, upon leaving high school had the job skills to send them straight into the workforce where they were productive. Being at a school where few kids planned to go to college and where kids often left school before graduation. This particular school had among the highest drop out rates of any school in Houston.

At the beginning of every school year, he would give the kids problems to solve. It wasn’t a math problem, he wasn’t any more of a mathlete than I am (I still say math was invented by demon possessed people who are trying to drive us all nuts). These problems included things like writing the directions for making a peanut butter and jelly sandwich where students would learn the devil is in the details. Another was to make a vehicle that could fly a paperclip 25 feet and it couldn’t be an airplane. The point was to look for the obvious/easy answers first.

Another exercise he did with his students as to divide them into groups and set them at some of the tables in the shop. Each table had a box of supplies and they couldn’t use anything that was not in the box. They were to build a tower as tall as possible to teach them the importance of teamwork. He loved to say, “All of us are smarter than one of us.”

Moses was overwhelmed. He was trying to lead this group of probably more than a million people. The reading for today said six hundred thousand men. That didn’t include women and children. So that would likely mean well over a million. That is a huge group for one man to lead, hear complaints both large and small, judge and who knows what else.

Moses was overwhelmed. So he set up a system where a case went before other judges first. Then only the most difficult issues went to Moses. It was teamwork that ruled the day. As my friend said, all of us are smarter than one of us.

Those students shared the burden of the project. It is what made them successful. And he taught them in a unique way the students will never forget. The students will be more successful when they share the burden.

A few churches back, we were getting ready for something I can’t remember. One of the men came up to me and said, “We need a good visitation program to canvas the city and invite people to come to church. Preacher, you want to take care of that. You have plenty of time.”

“We can’t do this. We plan to keep our pastor for a while” someone else said.

The first person truly believed that preachers only worked on Sunday. He had in mind that instead of sitting around the office doing nothing, I could be out there drumming up more business.

My reply was, “When you have time I would be glad to accompany you.” We never went out visiting.

I knew this was going to be difficult alone. But, when we have a team to share the burden, the difficult becomes not only something we can do, it can become simple.

Have a blessed day in the Lord.

With Joy and Thankfulness,

Copyright 2018, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved


Spirita Spiro (Esperanza for "Spirit's Breath) is rather new in my life. But the blog is not. I began writing a blog several years ago. It lived under the title, "The Pastor Ponders." Over the years I have tried several different names and "The Pastor Ponders" always seemed to fit best. I am trying again with Spirita Spiro. For 27 years I was a full-time pastor in the United Methodist Church. This year, August 2018, I semi-retired (I can't actually retire quite yet) and began teaching social studies. It is something I have always wanted to do and if I was going to do this, I needed to make it sooner rather than later. So, I made the move. I thought with the career change there also needed to be a name change to the blog and other things, such as spiritual direction. Spirita Spiro is my attempt to share some of my thoughts. I often share what I am thinking with my dog "Bishop," but he keeps his thoughts to himself. He will even go to sleep sometimes while I am sharing my thoughts with him. The truth is, if it doesn't involve getting his ears scratched, his belly rubbed or some kind of treat, he really doesn't care. I will say this for him, he never argues with me or tells me I am wrong. So, I decided to share some of my thoughts with whoever might come across this blog in their ramblings around the Internet. I live with my wife Cindy and our little dog in Lufkin, Texas. I spent the past 27 years as a full-time United Methodist pastor. Most recently I served as pastor of First United Methodist Church in Sweeny, Texas. I have also served United Methodist congregations throughout East Texas including rural Madison County (Elwood UMC), Lovelady (First UMC) and Kennard (Center Hill UMC), Canton (First UMC), rural Smith County (Mt. Sylvan UMC and Union Chapel UMC), Grapeland (First UMC), Tyler (Pleasant Retreat UMC), Santa Fe (Aldersgate UMC), Freeport (First UMC) and Oyster Creek (Oyster Creek UMC), Diboll (First UMC), and now Sweeny (First UMC). My wife Cindy and I have been married for over 40 years. We have two grown sons. Wayne and his wife Nikki and all our grandsons (Kaleb, Noah, and Jaxon) live in Southern California. Christopher and his wife Morgan and both our granddaughters (Jenna and Natalie) live in Tyler Texas. I enjoy preaching and all aspects of preaching from research to writing to the actual preaching event. I also love writing, reading, playing the guitar as well as a bit of drawing. I have spent quite a bit of time over the past two years working with paracord on various projects, mostly prayer ropes I usually give away. I sing bass with a local barbershop chorus called The Coastalaires. I have also recently begun doing a little wood carving. I also enjoy playing with Bishop, something he likes a great deal better than listening to my thoughts. I hold an Associate of Applied Science Degree in Business Data Processing, specializing in Microcomputers from San Jacinto College in Pasadena, Texas, a Bachelor of Science in Political Science with a minor in History from Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, TX, a Master of Divinity from Southern Methodist University in Dallas, TX and a Doctor of Ministry from Carolina University of Theology. When I was a student at Carolina, the school was in Iron Station North Carolina. They have since relocated to Manassas Virginia (Yeah, go figure, a school named Carolina geographically in Virginia). This blog is mostly devotional writing, but there are other things here too. Just about every week I will either post my sermon manuscript or a video of the worship service. On occasion, I will post something I see in society. Occasionally I write a short story, a poem, or a song and will post it here too. I will say this, my motivations for writing this blog are really selfish. I write it to get what I am thinking out of my head and onto something a bit more permanent. They say, after all, once something is on the internet it never really goes away. Still, I hope you enjoy reading it. And, should you desire, you can one-up Bishop and actually tell me what you think. Who knows, it might generate a bit of discussion between you and me and anyone else who might make their way here. With Joy and Thankfulness, Keith Sweeny, Texas May 2018

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