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Moses: Skill and Emotional Maturity

Moses: Skill and Emotional Maturity

On January 15, 2009, Sully Sullenberger took US Airways Flight 1549 departing from NY to Charlotte. The plane struck a large flock of birds, which took out both engines and forced him to land with 155 passengers in the Hudson River. What was most remarkable to me was the emotional control exercised by the pilot and air traffic controller.

At this critical leadership moment, Skill and Emotional Maturity were both exercised.

  • Skill: Have I practiced and exercised discipline so when the
    moment arrives, I posses the skill to do what it takes to lead?
    Leadership is not something you are born with. It comes with
  • Emotional Maturity: What’s happening outside, and what’s happening
    inside? What is outside of my control (externally) & what’s happening within my control (Internally: mind, emotions, spirit). Just keep checking: outside, inside, outside, inside.

With Skill and Emotional Maturity in mind, let’s revisit the life of Moses. Its 1500 BC and its been about 400 years since Joseph was Pharaoh’s right hand man. Those years clouded the memory of the Egyptians. Joseph’s ancestors, the Israelites, become slaves trapped in Egypt.

Moses’ 1st 40 Years (Read Exodus 1:8-14)

The Israelite population became a concern for Pharaoh so he ordered all the male babies to be thrown into the Nile River. Moses was placed in a basket and found by the daughter of Pharaoh. She decided to adopt him, so for 40 years Moses grew up in the royalty and power of Egypt (Acts 7:22).

Moses sat at the feet of Pharaoh, the leader of a powerful nation. Moses was being groomed for leadership, developing skills on how to lead a nation. Lock that piece of information in your mind.

Turning Point (Read Exodus 2:11-15)

Moses had the right idea. He had compassion for his people and wanted social justice. This is the beginning of a Vision. A vision usually begins with a dissatisfaction with current circumstances and a picture of what could and should be done. This is important for younger leaders trying to discern God’s will.

Question: What do you see that stirs up dissatisfaction? What gives you a picture of what could and should be done to make it better?

That’s the good part about Moses’ leadership, but we also see some pretty significant problems. Moses lacks Emotional Maturity, Spiritual Maturity, and Wisdom.

Emotional Maturity

This is critical because from a worldly perspective Moses was primed and ready for worldly leadership. He was able to take matters in his own hands! He had received the best education, he was in great physical shape, and he had the most powerful mentor. Yet, he was not emotionally ready for what God has in mind.

You can have a Doctorate in Leadership, be in great physical shape, and have excellent mentors yet still be emotionally immature. That one liability will greatly limit your effectiveness as a Leader.
High IQ – Low EQ. If you are old enough, you have seen this!

Moses had an anger problem. He knew what he was doing was wrong (considering he buried him in the sand). Yet, he can’t exercise emotional self control in this critical moment.

Example: Titus 2:6 – “Encourage the young men to be self-controlled.” Guys, just conquer this one thing and everything else will fall into place. Angry responses often add to problems. When dealing with a problem don’t create another problem by your response.

Spiritual Maturity

Moses isn’t spiritually ready to be used by God. We see that Moses has a good desire; a desire for justice and freedom. But he has a disastrous method. God actually wants to use Moses to accomplish this rescue mission, just not with Moses’ method. Moses’ method was to take matters into his own hands. There is no space between Moses’ Assessment and Moses’ Action.

Think about it: Moses was facing a 400 year old problem. He would be fighting against a powerful Egyptian military. This is a God Sized problem, but Moses foolishly decides he alone is the solution. Here is the best he could accomplish – He killed one soldier and rescued
zero slaves. That was a bad plan.


Paraphrasing Exodus 2:14 – “Who died and made you King?” Since Moses had done something to protect the slaves he thought they would eagerly respond to his leadership.  Moses made a terrible miscalculation. Moses completely underestimated how difficult it would be for people in a 400 year old pattern to change. You can easily think of times where you completely miscalculated how difficult it would be to change a family, a business, a church, or even yourself!

Moses’ 2nd 40 Years: Moses Moves Into the Desert

From the world’s point of view, Moses looked like a finished product. He had the right degree, the best training and he was in top physical form, but he is no shaped to be used by God. It took Moses 40 years to grow into the vision God had designed for him.

40 years later, Moses has learned humility (Exodus 3:10-12). Notice that Moses says he is unfit to go, but God reminds him that this rescue mission is not about Moses, but about the LORD.

Please notice the contrast of how much man can accomplish by himself vs. a man under God’s leadership (Exodus 14:10-14 & Exodus 14: 26-29). One man on his own kills one man and rescues zero. One man led by God defeats the most powerful army on the planet and rescues an entire nation.

Leading to: Moses’ 3rd 40 Years

During his first 40 years, Moses developed the skill to lead a nation. During his second 40 years, Moses developed the knowledge of living in the desert. During the third 40 years, Moses lead a nation through a desert.

God can redeem all your time for his purposes.


1. In order to raise your leadership capacity: What area needs to most work? IQ – Wisdom/Skill (or) EQ – Emotional health?

2. Vision: Vision usually begins with a dissatisfaction with current circumstances & a picture of what could and should be done, a preferred future. Do you operate with a Vision? How do you determine when you should move forward, without taking matters into your own hands?

3. Do you have a set time and place where you meet with God?


Friends and Brothers,


Paul Phillips
Pastor, Christ Community Church

Abraham: Staying at Your Post – Leadership Lesson

Abraham: Staying at Your Post – Leadership Lesson

Pompeii was a popular tourist city on the west coast of Italy in 79AD. It was during the time of the Roman Empire, and it was home to 20,000 people. It was also located near the base of a massive volcano, Mount Vesuvius. When Vesuvius exploded, scientist estimated it ejected 1.5 million tons of ash and rock every second for 24 hours over 12 miles into the atmosphere. The surrounding region including Pompeii was covered with ash 16ft deep. The ash remarkably preserved the city before it was covered in lava. Lava was estimated to have flowed down the mountain at 70mph. Many of the residents escaped prior to the eruption but some were left behind. There is a story about a Roman soldier whose body was uncovered. He was found standing his post at the city gate.

Abraham was a Man on Assignment

In Genesis 12:1-4, the key to Abraham’s success is summed up in one sentance: “Abram went, as the Lord had told him”. Abraham, like the Roman Soldier, was given an assignment. To go to a foreign country and stand his post until the very end of his life. Yes, God was going to work through Abraham, but those things are up to God. Abraham wasn’t perfect, but what Abraham did well was stand his post.

Jesus said in John 17:1 – “I have brought you glory on earth by completing the work you gave me to do.”  Jesus too was on assignment. Jesus didn’t do everything that could possibly be done. Instead, he completed his assignment. Jesus stood his post until the very end.

Do you sense that you are on assignment? What difference does it make if you do or do not think that you are on assignment?

What was Abraham’s Assignment?

Genesis 12:2 tells us that Abraham was to go live in a land and give birth to a new nation. A nation who, like Abraham, will singularly follow after Yahweh.

I want you to appreciate the immensity of Abraham’s challenge and the immensity of Abraham’s world influence.

Genesis 12:6-7 . Abraham builds an alter to Yahweh where the Oak of Moreh is, the land of the Canaanites. Moreh means “teacher”. Most scholars think this particular location was a place of idol worship. Right away, we see Abraham establishing his camp in enemy territory. This assignment will encounter great opposition.

Joshua gathered all the tribes of Israel to Shechem and summoned the elders, the heads, the judges, and the officers of Israel. And they presented themselves before God. (Joshua 24:1)

“Now therefore fear the LORD and serve him in sincerity and in faithfulness. Put away the gods that your fathers served beyond the River (Ur – Abraham’s home town) and in Egypt (the land they had escaped), and serve the LORD. And if it is evil in your eyes to serve the LORD, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell (current location). But as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.” (Joshua 24:14-15)

Notice the surrounding culture of counterfeit gods: Babylon, Egypt, the Amorites, and the Canaanites. Imagine the pressure – One man and his family standing their post against the current and surrounding culture of multiple gods. Yet, Abraham plants himself and preaches exclusivity. One God, Yahweh! In our current culture, exclusivity is one of the most offensive things you can believe.

God’s Timing and Your Assignment

In Joshua 24:1 – Joshua has the people gathered back to Shechem, where Abraham first stood his post. This is the beginning of God fulfilling his promise to Abraham back in Genesis 12.

This is 700 years later! From 2100BC to 1400BC. Ask yourself, if God commanded you today to stand your post and promised he was going to deliver you a great name and nation, would it be ok with you if he fulfilled it in the year 2716? Would you be ok with that?

[8] By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place that he was to receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going. [9] By faith he went to live in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, living in tents with Isaac and Jacob, heirs with him of the same promise. [10] For he was looking forward to the city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God. [11] By faith Sarah herself received power to conceive, even when she was past the age, since she considered him faithful who had promised. [12] Therefore from one man, and him as good as dead, were born descendants as many as the stars of heaven and as many as the innumerable grains of sand by the seashore. [13] These all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. (Hebrews 11:8-13)

Do you see? It wasn’t Abraham’s job to make a great nation or get a great name. No. Those were things God would do. Abraham’s job was to live by faith – to be obedient – to stand his post even though it looked foolish and unsuccessful to the surrounding culture. He even had to endure suffering.

Leadership writer Patrick Lencioni says this:

“If you were searching for leaders to change the world, what qualities would you look for? Courage and intelligence would certainly be prime candidates. Charisma might make the list. Yet, I would rank two others ahead of them, the two qualities I’m thinking of are: Humility and Pain Tolerance

When I graduated from college, I wanted to change the world. I was determined to make a difference, defy conventional wisdom, confront the status quo… At the time, I was sure that these lofty aspirations were noble.  I was wrong.  There were two big problems with my zeal.
First, I had no specific idea about what kind of a difference I wanted to make.  And although that may not seem like a big deal, it masked a larger one:  I was more interested in being recognized for having changed the world than anything else. ‘It doesn’t really matter what I changed, as long as it was something unique, and I got credit for it.’ You see, making a difference was not really about the world after all.  It was about me.

There was another problem with my desire to change the world, and it
is just as important. … there were limits to my desire to change the
world.  As much as I wanted to make a difference, I wasn’t too keen on
having to suffer much along the way.  ‘Sure, I  can deal with some hard
work.  Maybe even temporary financial setbacks.  But real suffering?
Embarrassment?  Rejection by loved ones?  No thank you.  I don’t want to
make that big of a difference.’ Before setting out on a quest to change
the world, Christian leaders should probably ask themselves two questions: “Who am I really serving?”  and “Am I ready to suffer?

Patrick learned that his leadership was really all about himself. He was the goal and the terminating point. He also learned that he wasn’t really ready to suffer. He wasn’t ready to stand at his post no matter what.

Abraham was a man on assignment. He planted himself in the middle of enemy territory and counterfeit gods and was going to remain obedient even if he didn’t receive in his lifetime what God had promised. Abraham knew who he was serving and was willing to suffer.


  1. Do you sense that you are on assignment? As a leader, what difference does it make knowing you are on assignment?
  1. What are your greatest pressures as a Christian leader?
  1. Talk about you and the two leadership characteristics Patrick Lencioni valued: Humility and Pain Tolerance.

Friends and Brothers,

Paul Phillips Signiture




Paul Phillips
Pastor, Christ Community Church

America’s Lost Boys

America’s Lost Boys

“Where have America’s young men gone? According to Erik Hurst, an economist from the University of Chicago, they haven’t gone anywhere—they’re just plugged in.” Read the revealing full article about men and technology.

Your Summer Training Program

Your Summer Training Program

Paul tells Timothy to: “Train (not try) yourself to be godly. Physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.” I Timothy 4

I hope you have a plan over the summer. If you don’t, I suggest you call a friend or two and commit to a training routine for the next 12 weeks. Here are a couple of helpful resources:


Paul Phillips Signiture




Paul Phillips

Pastor, Christ Community Church

“Leadership & Humility” – Leadership Lesson

“Leadership & Humility” – Leadership Lesson

The book of Proverbs exposes many problems with pride. Here are just a few of them.


Proverbs 11:2 – “When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom”

In Hebrew, “Pride” means: Boil up, Boil over. When pride comes it boils over into disgrace. Instead of being distinguished, pride ends in disgrace.


Proverbs 13:10 – “Pride breeds disagreement and quarrels, but wisdom is found in those who take advice.”

Whenever there is much disagreement you should look for pride.


Proverbs 16:18 – “Pride goes before destruction, and a stiff spirit before a fall.”

While Union General John Sedgwick was inspecting his troops during a battle, he was not careful about keeping his head down under a protective wall. When reminded to keep down for safety, Sedgwick responded: “Nonsense, they couldn’t hit an elephant at this distance” A moment later, Sedgwick was shot & killed.


Proverbs 16:5 – “The Lord detests all the proud of heart. Be sure of this: They will not go unpunished.”

Matthew Henry Commentary: “The pride of sinners sets God against them….let him know that though he admires himself, and others caress him, yet he is an abomination to the Lord. The great God despises him… they shall not escape his righteous judgment.”

William Coffin: “There is no smaller package in the world than a man wrapped up in himself .”

Avoiding pride is extremely difficult. According to Numbers 12:3, Moses was “very meek, more than all the people on the face of the earth. How did he do it? The Answer: Psalm 90.

Moses was Wrapped up in God, not Himself. 

3 Steps in Psalm 90

  1. Standing in the Awe of God – vs. 1-2

A Prayer of Moses, the man of God.

Lord, you have been our dwelling place
in all generations.
Before the mountains were brought forth,
or ever you had formed the earth and the world,
from everlasting to everlasting you are God.

Psalm 90:1-2

Proverbs 1:7 – “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” — In other words: Real wisdom, real humility begins to develop begins by getting wrapped up in God.


“Lord you have been our dwelling place” – Think about this statement from Moses’ perspective. Moses lived his first 40 years as Hebrew in the Egyptian palace (not his home) – His second 40 years as a shepherd in the wilderness (not his home) – His third 40 years leading a group of homeless people in a desert….. For 120 years Moses never had a home. Yet in the opening line Moses says: “God – YOU ARE OUR HOME!”  Moses arrived Home when he was found by God.

Why is this important especially for men? It’s important because once Moses found his Home in God – then he no longer need to arrive. Moses no longer needed to “prove himself” or “make his mark or name for himself” or “boost his resume”– If you live your whole life always trying to “arrive” – it can be a struggle to be humble. **Please listen young men —- you could spend 40 years trying to “arrive” – trying to prove yourself to your family, community, father, your friends at church or Iron Leadership …all driven by Pride trying to make your life count or matter…..and you could completely miss God. Moses lived in Awe of God – Moses was at home with God – When Moses woke up every morning – He didn’t need anything: He had arrived. Think about how that would drive away pride!

2. Crystal Clear Clarity about ourselves. vs. 3-11

You return man to dust
and say, “Return, O children of man!”
For a thousand years in your sight
are but as yesterday when it is past,
or as a watch in the night.

You sweep them away as with a flood; they are like a dream,
like grass that is renewed in the morning:
in the morning it flourishes and is renewed;
in the evening it fades and withers.

For we are brought to an end by your anger;
by your wrath we are dismayed.
You have set our iniquities before you,
our secret sins in the light of your presence.

For all our days pass away under your wrath;
we bring our years to an end like a sigh.
The years of our life are seventy,
or even by reason of strength eighty;
yet their span is but toil and trouble;
they are soon gone, and we fly away.
Who considers the power of your anger,
and your wrath according to the fear of you?

(Psalm 90:3-11)

Binoculars – two lenses need adjustment- Moses points out two areas about ourselves which must come into crystal clear focus.

First Lens: Clarity concerning our Brevity – (Read vs. 4) – It’s difficult for us to think about God existing outside of time. To get perspective, Moses says: “For God, 1000 years is like one of our days.” Which means: 2 days ago for God was the birth of Christ,  3.5 days ago for God was Moses’ life – and 7 days ago For God was the creation of Adam & Eve.

For God – the entire human timeline is only one week old.

Then in vs. 5-6 Moses contrasts humanity with 3 visual analogies. Now before we review these – if you asked the man on the street to come up with an analogy for mankind – I think you anticipate something like “Mankind: A towering Redwood” or “Mankind: An impressive monument.”

Notice God’s view:

  • Mankind: “Swept away as with a flood.”

This perspective creates humility!

Second Lens: Clarity Concerning Sin – Moses tells us, to get humility we must have crystal clear clarity about our standing before God.

(Read vs. 8) Once again, its hard to imagine but your every sin: Every thought, word and deed sits before God like a massive buffet table. Every sin sits under the bright, holy light of God. There is no comparing yourself to others, no excuses, no cover. Do you know what meditating on that reality should produce? Yep, Humility!

3rd Lense: Transition – “So”

  • “So” – (vs. 12) “Teach us to number our days”. (vs. 14) We need to wake up in the morning and before our feet hit the floor we want to be thanking God for his “steadfast love” That’s why we woke up this morning.
  • “So” – (vs. 16) “Let your work be shown (not ours) “Let your glorious power be on display (not ours).

A Prayer Influenced by Moses’ Humility

“Lord, I have already arrived home so I have nothing to prove today. I am awake this morning solely because of your steadfast love – You don’t need me and I certainly don’t deserve to be here. I am here for a limited number of days and those days are quickly fading, so I want your work and your glory to be shown as I walk through this day. O Lord – It’s not about me, it’s only about you!

Questions for Reflection

  1. How have you seen your own pride be destructive in your life?
  1. When Moses woke up every morning – He didn’t need anything: He had “arrived” – Moses was at home with God and didn’t need to prove anything. How would that mindset for you affect your day? How does it drive away pride and instill humility?
  1. How would clearly seeing the Brevity and Sin in your life help develop humility?


Friends and Brothers,
Paul Phillips Signiture



Paul Phillips                                                                                                                                                         Pastor, Christ Community Church                                                                                   

“Long Haul Leadership – Getting to the Finish Line” – Leadership Lesson

“Long Haul Leadership – Getting to the Finish Line” – Leadership Lesson

In 1968 the country of Tanzania selected John Stephen Akhwari to represent them in the Mexico City Olympics. During the race Akhwari stumbled and fell, severely injuring his knee and ankle. Long after the winner had crossed the finish line and with only a few thousand spectators left in the stadium a police siren went off alerting everyone that one final competitor was entering the stadium – it was Akhwari. After he finished the race a reported asked him: “Why did you continue the race after you were so badly injured?”

Akhwari: “My country did not send me 5000 miles to start the race, they sent me 5000 miles to finish the race.”

My Question today is this: “How good are you at finishing?” Most of you can’t even answer that question because you are so young and just now starting…..yet you have had some opportunity to start a project, job, school…..and learned something about finishing.

Starting is so, so, so much easier than finishing. I’ve have many more stories to tell you about projects I started than stories about projects I finished.

Read Numbers 33: 1-49. Moses was a Finisher! He brought them out of Egypt and delivered the people to the Jordan River – on the edge of the promised land. These 50 verses represent 40 years of traveling from one place to another with a million people.

Imagine for a moment being enlisted by God for this task: It’s a task that will require your best effort for 40 years – you will be leading some of the most difficult, demanding people who will constantly challenge your leadership style and decision making. Along with the difficult people, the terrain in which you lead will be most inhospitable. The assignment will be so spiritually, physically and emotionally difficult that near the end of the 40 years you are going to have an “I’ve had It” moment which will cost you crossing the finish line with them – you will only deliver them to the finish line….not cross it.

Yet – Moses is such a great example of Perseverance! He was sent by God not to just start a race but to finish it…….and that’s what he did.

“If you were searching for leaders to change the world, what qualities would you look for? Courage and intelligence would certainly be prime candidates. Charisma might make the list. Yet, as important as these characteristics may be, I would rank two others ahead of them, the two qualities I’m thinking of are: Humility and Pain Tolerance.”

Patrick Lencioni, Leadership Writer

Now the man Moses was very humble, more than all people who were on the face of the earth.

Numbers 12:3

True humility is not thinking less of yourself; it is thinking of yourself less.”

Definition of Humility: C.S. Lewis

Moses had very high level of Pain Tolerance & Humility. The Apostle Paul also had a very difficult leadership task. He talks about finishing well in 1 Corinthians 9:24-27

Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.

1 Corinthians 9:24-27

4 “D’s” to Finishing Well

  1. Determination: “Run in such a way as to get the prize.”

As a Christian Leader: Do you have your eyes on the real prize which is not anything in this world – Education, Power or Position, Financial Success or Physical Success……..the real prize is Glorifying God in your life as you race toward Heaven….or Heaven races toward you?

Is there is a Determination to get that prize? Is it a controlling feature of your life and your habits?

2. Discipline: “Goes into strict training”

“You can map out a fight plan or a life plan, but when the action starts, it may not go the way you planned, and you’re down to your reflexes – that means your preparation. That’s where your roadwork shows. If you cheated on that in the dark of the morning, well, you’re going to get found out now, under the bright lights of the ring.”

Joe Frazier

Discipline is what you do in the dark hours of the morning – when no one else is watching. What are your Spiritual Disciplines?

3. Direction: “I do not run like a man running aimlessly”

You know where you are going and you stay on track. I wonder – how many of you have a definite Direction – You have a vision for your life? Sure life can throw curve balls but in general you have a vision for you as a leader, businessman, churchman, family man, or do you run aimlessly hoping to arrive somewhere worthwhile?

4. Denial:  “I beat my body and make it my slave”

Have you learned how to say “NO” to your physical and emotional appetites?

James 1:14- “Each person is tempted when he is dragged off and enticed by the bait of his own desire.” Please Notice: You aren’t dragged off by the temptation……..NO, you are dragged off by your own desire.

Desire: Epi-thumea – Root – Epi

Example -Epicenter of an earthquake is the very middle – Normal desires have become the center of your life. So the sin that James is talking about isn’t wanting bad things but wanting things too badly. In other words: You feel like you can’t say “NO” — Normal desires become the consuming center of our lives.

  • Hunger is a normal desire – Eating is normal – Gluttony is a sin
  • Intimacy is a normal desire – Sex is normal – Adultery is a sin
  • Fatigue is a normal desire – Sleep is normal – Laziness is a sin

Sorry for another track video (and the cheesy Rocky music), but about 75 yards out, all 4 of these “D’s” kicked in for Steve Jones.


Questions for Reflection

  1. Self-Assessment of how you are as a “Finisher”
  1. Of the 4 D’s – Determination, Discipline, Direction, Denial: Which is a strength, which is a weakness?
  1. What’s the most challenging or difficult aspect of Glorifying God in your : Business – Family?

Friends and Brothers,

Paul Phillips Signiture




Paul Phillips
Pastor, Christ Community Church