Category Archives: Devos

Strong Leadership? “Steel Under Velvet”

A periodic Bartel leadership tip from my time of “coffee with the Lord”…

I think we’ve all seen individuals that let a little authority and power go to their head.  They “throw around their weight,” they’re demanding, dictatorial , abusive and threatened by anyone who has another opinion.  Tragically there are some of these kinds of leaders in Christian service!  There is nothing “Christ-like” about the way they lead others!  As spiritual shepherds go, they drive sheep – they don’t lead them.

But there’s also the opposite extreme… The leader who avoids confrontation at all costs – the person who finds a place to hide when there is an issue to be dealt with – the “shepherd” who really wishes someone in the “flock” would take over.  I know a few of these… If you ever looked up the term “laissez faire” as a leadership term in the dictionary, there picture would probably be there.  They are directionless, convictionless, valueless, and spineless.  Those who seek to follow them have no idea where they are headed, what the vision is, or what values they stand for – it’s frustrating!  They abuse by neglect.

I read a passage in the Bible today, penned by apostle Paul, inspired by the Holy Spirit that speaks clearly to this leadership issue (in fact, it’s found twice in 2 Corinthians – an epistle where Paul’s authority was being seriously challenged).  I think these verses provide an understanding of leadership and the use of authority that served as a core guiding principle for apostle Paul (and I want it to guide me)…

“If anyone is confident that they belong to Christ, they should consider again that we belong to Christ just as much as they do!  So even if I boast somewhat freely about THE AUTHORITY THE LORD GAVE US FOR BUILDING YOU UP RATHER THAN TEARING YOU DOWN, I will not be ashamed of it.” (2 Corinthians 10:7-8 NIV)

“This is why I write these things when I am absent, so that when I come I may not have to be harsh in my use of authority – THE AUTHORITY THE LORD GAVE ME FOR BUILDING YOU UP, NOT FOR TEARING YOU DOWN.” (2 Corinthians 13.10 NIV)

So how can a leader avoid the two extremes I’ve presented?  How can I keep the “authority automobile” on the road and not in either ditch…  I’ve come up with a little phrase that personally helps me in that regard; here it is… AS A LEADER I NEED TO BE “STEEL UNDER VELVET” – using authority to build others up, not tearing them down.  Think I need to go out and find more “velvet” … and sometimes more “steel”!

My Investment Strategy…

I have friends who are very careful about their investments.  They watch the market like a hawk.  They get up in the morning (and even before they pick up their Bible) they check the market.  They have instant notification apps on their cell phone to notify them of changes during the day.  Last thing before they go to bed at night, they check the international markets.  They’re upbeat and almost giddy if things go well – quiet and dour if it was a bad day in the markets.

I’ve got a little invested … a paltry sum by most standards.  I’m grateful that I’m interested, but not obsessed.  I have to admit, however, I’m VERY interested in the investments I’ve made in the Kingdom of God!!  Was reminded of that as I read the following passage this morning…

“Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously.  Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.  And GOD IS ABLE TO BLESS YOU ABUNDANTLY, SO THAT IN ALL THINGS AT ALL TIMES, HAVING ALL THAT YOU NEED, YOU WILL ABOUND IN EVERY GOOD WORK.  As it is written: ‘They have freely scattered their gifts to the poor; their righteousness endures forever.’  Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness.  You will be enriched in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God.  This service that you perform is not only supplying the needs of the Lord’s people but is also overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God  And in their prayers for you their hearts will go out to you, because of the surpassing grace God has given you.  Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!  (From 2 Corinthians 9:6–15 NIV)

Now, I’ve just got to say, the dividends on those investments are “out of this world” – I didn’t even have to provide the funds to do it – God is the one that really provided them!!  On top of that, I am rewarded!!  The return on investment is God’s cause furthered, more resources to share, thanksgiving and praise to God for His provision, and people actually praying that God will meet MY needs!  But it all begins when I amchallenged to follow THE EXAMPLE OF GOD FOR HIS INCREDIBLE GIFT – THE GIFT OF HIS SON

Think I’ll go check on my investments!!

A Musical Reflection for Worship Today…

Anyone who knows me, knows I love and appreciate good contemporary worship music. I thrill that the present generation has articulated their love and worship for the Lord in such heartfelt and profound ways… But I gotta tell you, we’ll be impoverished if we don’t preserve and use the great legacy of worship music of generations past. This morning I was reminded of one such “heritage song” that we dare not lose! I posted the lyrics for you today and a beautiful instrumental rendition by the Burchfield brothers for your reflection and worship… Anyone…I mean ANYONE who is a devoted follower of Jesus will identify with this song!  You will want to set aside some time to enjoy this and simply WORSHIP!!!

“Who can cheer the heart like Jesus
By His presence all divine
True and tender, pure and precious
O, how blest to call Him mine

“All that thrills my soul is Jesus
He is more than life to me
And the fairest of ten thousand
In my blessed Lord I see

“Love of Christ so freely given
Grace of God beyond degree
Mercy higher than the heavens
Deeper than the deepest sea

“What a wonderful redemption
Never can a mortal know
Ho my sin, though red like crimson
Can be whiter than the snow

“Every need His hand supplying
Every good in Him I see
On His strength divine relying
He is all in all to me

“By the crystal flowing river
With the ransomed I will sing
And forever and forever
Praise and glorify the King”

Thoro Harris – 1874-1955

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