Moses Deals with Conflict – Leadership Lesson

Moses Deals with Conflict – Leadership Lesson

There are all kinds of ways to deal with conflict. One way is to fight. There is a problem though: there is only one winner and everyone else gets hurt.

Here’s a funny example:

Handling conflict was of mighty importance in Moses’ life. Immediately after he delivered the Israelites out of Egypt, the conflict and complaints begin. When you read about Moses’ 40 years of leadership it reads like 40 years of conflict – with people he leads, enemies, himself, and even God.

Notice how quickly rejoicing turns into grumbling:

  • Exodus 14:30-31: Rescue
  • Exodus 15:1-21: Two songs of celebration
  • Exodus 15:22-24: Grumbling
  • Exodus 16:1-3: Grumbling
  • Exodus 17:1-4: Threats of Stoning

My first question is: why does God choose this path? Why does he choose this way of dealing with his people? Why didn’t they go from rescue to rest? From the Exodus to the Promised Land? Why was there this journey in between in the wilderness? The wilderness wasn’t necessary for Salvation, but it was needed for Sanctification.

Read Colossians 3:10 – The reason this is important to keep in mind as a Christian and as a leader is that the challenges you face and the conflicts you are engaged in serve a greater purpose. Are the merely hurdles in your way? No. God has allowed them to play a role in your formation. This should reduce your personal complaining.

When dealing with conflict, the first step is backwards. You need to know yourself, examine yourself, and understand the downward spiral of idolatry.

Know Yourself – EQ vs IQ

So many problems in a marriage or business meeting are not caused by a lack of intelligence, but a lack of emotional maturity. Example: You are working on a difficult problem, there are differing opinions and then someone verbally loses it (or) shuts down. Now you have two problems: the original problem and the way you dealt with the problem.

I love this character list the Apostle Paul gives for potential leaders in the church: “Elders must be…..temperate, self-controlled.. not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome…..”

Proverbs 15:1 – “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.”

I tell people all the time, “Don’t let the way you deal with the problem become another problem.”

Question: What situation or area of your life do you need to work on your EQ? The answer comes from examining yourself.

Examine Yourself – Matthew 7:3-5

“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”

This is so difficult yet so critical. The very first step to resolving conflict is to examine yourself.

Notice: Jesus doesn’t forbid pointing out or addressing issues in the life of others, but when doing so creates conflict then you need to step back and examine yourself. This is the first step of a High EQ, emotionally mature person. This is the most difficult step for a teenager.

Colossians 3:5 and Colossians 3:8 tell us to “put to death & rid yourself.” This is painful!

Sexual immorality, lusts, greed, anger, rage, malice, slander or filthy language: It’s all very difficult to put these emotional idols to death. No one wants to put something you love to death!

How can we put these things to death? Colossians 3:1 tells us how. “Let the peace of Christ rule in your heart.

Paul understands there is an internal battle for “rule” within your heart. Stepping back gives you a chance to examine what rules or governs your heart.

Question: When has a craving of yours lead to a conflict?

The Downward Spiral of Idolatry: James 4:1-2

“What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? You want something but don’t get it. You kill and covet, but you cannot have what you want….so you quarrel and fight.”

Definition of an Idol: Anything other than God that we trust or must have in order to be happy or secure.

Notice: James does not comment directly on the issues involved because James’ primary concern was not the issue but the source of the conflict. James is more concerned with the what is ruling your heart rather than issues.

The downward spiral of Idolatry is a lot like this:

  1. Desire
  2. Demand – (I must have)
  3. Disappointment – (unmet demands)
  4. Judgement – (Disappointment leads to frustration, and frustration leads to judgement)
  5. Punishment – (I am hurt. My ego is bruised. I tried to be controlling, yet I still didn’t get my way, so I strike back.)


With these questions, specifically focus on yourself. Don’t think: WOW, Paul really understands the problems with my Boss, Spouse, and children. Right now, focus on you.

  1. In examining yourself ask: In what situation/area of your life do you need to work on your EQ?
  2. When has a craving of yours lead to a conflict?
  3. Think about a recent conflict in your life. Did you elevate a desire to a demand? How far down the spiral did you go? What’s one of your common forms of punishment when your demands go unmet?


Friends and Brothers,

Paul Phillips Signiture




Paul Phillips
Pastor, Christ Community Church

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