God wants the very best for you. God wants you to reach your full potential – in all that you are, and in all that you do. God loves you so much that He is longing for you to allow Him to be active in helping you become everything that you can be. He is always with you. He will never leave you nor forsake you. He is Almighty God, able to do all things for you. He is awesome! He has placed in you Himself – Ruach – the Holy Spirit and calls you this year to walk with the Spirit.

This can be the year of Shanar for you – the year of change. Be bold, and, in the words that I heard spoken by Ruth O’Reilly-Smith on UCB2 this very day, “step into the new” this year.

And when you, like the Apostle Peter before you, look down at the wind and the waves of life that threaten to overwhelm you (see Matthew 14), and when like Gideon you ask “who am I to do great things for God? I am nothing, I am no-one!” (see Judges 6), then remember the promise “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me” (Philippians 4: 13).

So, our Vision 2024 is this: reach up to your full potential, grasp hold of all that God has for you, and step into the new. How exciting this will be!


Jethro, also known as Reuel, was not a Jew – he was a Midianite – and he was the father-in-law of Moses. His daughter, Zipporah married Moses after Moses stood up for Jethro’s 7 daughters against some bullying shepherds when watering their father’s flocks at a well (see Exodus 2). In the culture of the time that gave him great honour and influence in the life of Moses. Just look at how Moses greets him – bowing down and giving him a kiss – maybe a lesson for us with our in-laws??? In the culture of the time this meant that Moses would always listen to his advice – not just listen, but give it great credence.

Now Jethro, the priest of Midian and father-in-law of Moses, heard of everything God had done for Moses and for his people Israel, and how the LORD had brought Israel out of Egypt.

2 After Moses had sent away his wife Zipporah, his father-in-law Jethro received her 3 and her two sons. One son was named Gershom, for Moses said, “I have become a foreigner in a foreign land”; 4 and the other was named Eliezer, for he said, “My father’s God was my helper; he saved me from the sword of Pharaoh.”

5 Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law, together with Moses’ sons and wife, came to him in the wilderness, where he was camped near the mountain of God. 6 Jethro had sent word to him, “I, your father-in-law Jethro, am coming to you with your wife and her two sons.”

7 So Moses went out to meet his father-in-law and bowed down and kissed him. They greeted each other and then went into the tent. 8 Moses told his father-in-law about everything the LORD had done to Pharaoh and the Egyptians for Israel’s sake and about all the hardships they had met along the way and how the LORD had saved them.

9 Jethro was delighted to hear about all the good things the LORD had done for Israel in rescuing them from the hand of the Egyptians. 10 He said, “Praise be to the LORD, who rescued you from the hand of the Egyptians and of Pharaoh, and who rescued the people from the hand of the Egyptians. 11 Now I know that the LORD is greater than all other gods, for he did this to those who had treated Israel arrogantly.” 12 Then Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law, brought a burnt offering and other sacrifices to God, and Aaron came with all the elders of Israel to eat a meal with Moses’ father-in-law in the presence of God.

13 The next day Moses took his seat to serve as judge for the people, and they stood around him from morning till evening. 14 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?”

15 Moses answered him, “Because the people come to me to seek God’s will. 16 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.”

17 Moses’ father-in-law replied, “What you are doing is not good. 18 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. 19 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. 20 Teach them his decrees and instructions, and show them the way they are to live and how they are to behave. 21 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. 22 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. 23 If you do this and God so commands, you will be able to stand the strain, and all these people will go home satisfied.”

24 Moses listened to his father-in-law and did everything he said. 25 He chose capable men from all Israel and made them leaders of the people, officials over thousands, hundreds, fifties and tens. 26 They served as judges for the people at all times. The difficult cases they brought to Moses, but the simple ones they decided themselves.

27 Then Moses sent his father-in-law on his way, and Jethro returned to his own country. (Exodus 18)


It must be 13 years ago now…My! How time does fly! It must be 13 years ago that my mind went “ping”. That’s the best way to describe what happened to me. I was working too hard – I am a very driven person who tends to foolishly work at 110% (so beware all you like-minded people out there!) – going to work at 6 in the morning and not leaving the office till 6 in the evening; and then spending the evening doing “church stuff”; and then back to it all again the next day. And there was a lot going on in my personal life as well that also demanded my full attention (and how can you give your “full attention” to more than one thing?). There were signs – physical signs – that things weren’t quite right. But I’ll never forget that day when I got to work, sat down at my desk, and my mind just went “ping”. I couldn’t work out what I was doing, even how to type on my computer keyboard. Someone came in to talk to me – I could understand what they were saying but my words in reply just wouldn’t come out or came out all wrong. I couldn’t think, I couldn’t walk, I couldn’t stand. I was shaking like a

leaf. I didn’t know what was happening. My mind had gone “ping”. I had “hit the wall”. I had “burnt out”. It took me literally months before I was able to return effectively to work.

Lesson to me; lesson to us all: know when to stop; know when to down-tools; know when to say “no” (I’m still useless at this one!); know when to rest. Genesis 1 shows us that we were meant to work out of rest – so make sure that you rest before you work. Read the signs in your mind and your body.

So, I am so very grateful to the gracious care of the Trustees and the Leadership Team who have invited me to take a three-month Sabbatical from May to July this year. I am so very ready for it!

I must learn from the mistakes of Moses. I must learn the lesson of Jethro.

1. Jethro taught him that he could not be a one-man ministry. Moses was so keen to serve God that he tried to do everything himself. Have you heard it said that “if you want something done then do it yourself”? That’s where Moses was. It wasn’t that he thought he was the only one gifted or called to do the work – he was just driven to get on with what he saw needed to be got on with. He had a tremendous sense of responsibility to the people he led and served – and wanted to deal with all the problems, sort out all the needs. And Jethro said, “you can’t!” So – bring others on board to serve alongside you and release them to do the things that they are gifted at doing.

2. Jethro taught him that working so hard and so long hours was not good for him – he was just wearing himself out – but it was not good for the people either – things moved too slowly when there was just one man trying to do it all – leading to frustration and apathy. So – let some things go, step back a bit – allow others to serve as well.

3. Jethro taught him that trying to do it all himself meant that he was holding others back from their own service to God and ministry to others. So – use other people – it will help them reach up to their full potential.

I want to learn the wise lesson of Jethro. The Sabbatical is part of this process. I would like to tell you that I am going to put my feet up and have a three-month holiday of doing nothing and thinking nothing, just resting and sipping Pina Coladas in the sunshine. But this is not how it is going to be. I shall still be serving God and you, but in a different way, and without the day-to-day pressures and responsibilities that come with my role here in the church.

A document has been sent out to you which outlines how much of my time shall be spent during the 13 weeks of the Sabbatical. I shall be doing theoretical and practical research on a proclaimed move of God amongst church streams in the UK since the pandemic. I want to find out more about it; visit churches locally and nationally that are beginning to embrace it; and then report back to you on what I have discovered and what I believe God is saying at this critical time in the life of the church in our nation.

But it shall be a time of rest, a time of refreshing, a time of drawing closer to God in my personal relationship with Him.

Jethro teaches Moses what is actually his responsibility. In verse 19 Moses is told that he must be standing before God on behalf of the people. Even while I am on Sabbatical, it is my role to pray for you – really pray for you. And in verse 20 Moses is taught to teach the people how to live. My role while I am on Sabbatical is to find out God’s will, God’s direction and then to bring this to you.

And while I am away, I can no longer lead all the services, bring the bulk of the messages, be available to deal with all the problems. This is a time, and an opportunity, for YOU to step up to the mark – a time for YOU to reach up to your full potential – a time for you to learn the lesson of Jethro.


God loves you so much that He will always find a way to speak to you when you need to hear His voice. Sometimes it will be through His Word, sometimes through a vision or a dream. Often it will be through the wisdom of another – and God will use whoever (or whatever) He chooses to do the job – not always another Christian. He used pagan King Nebuchadnezzar; He even used a donkey to speak to Balaam! And here He chooses Jethro – not even a follower of Yahweh – but a good man, one who was listening.

God wants you to hear the lesson of Jethro:

1. It was not good for Moses to work amongst God’s people alone. It was not enough for him to have Aaron by his side. He needed the people themselves to fully serve amongst the community of God’s people. He is not talking about those outside the community here. The call of God (through Jethro) was for service within the community. So – this is a call to you to step up to the mark – to serve fully within the church family. It is said that, within the church in the Western World, 20% of the people do 80% of the work. I am glad that we, in our church, buck the trend. But there is still a BIG call on you to look at your service to God and the church and ask whether you are doing what you should be doing, or whether you are sitting back, grateful that others are doing it for you.

2. Take careful notice of those whom Moses chose and appointed. They were not people from outside the community, they were not those brought in. They were those already there! Their giftings, talents, abilities, and calling were all latent – Moses just had to release them into their ministries. So – YOU are God’s solution to the church family working well. God has placed you in ACC, in your church. You are God’s master-plan for an effective church right where you are!

3. And take careful notice of one other thing about those approached. Each one of them had the choice to make – to say “yes” or to say “no” – to accept their calling or to reject it. You have the same choice too. What are you going to say to the call to reach up to your full potential, to seize the opportunity, to step into the new?

The lesson of Jethro is to work hard but work wisely, to work with a team and not on your own. The lesson of Jethro is that ALL of us have a part to play, whatever our status or title in the church might be. The lesson of Jethro is not to rely on one man, and one man not to do all the work. The lesson of Jethro is calling us all, this year, to step up to the mark and to reach up to our full potential.

Let’s do it!