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

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