In the 3rd general letter written by the hand of John, there was a man who had serious traits consistent with some preachers that have a bad approach to pastoring or leading a flock of people.
Power is intoxicating.
In other words, when a person is given authority or they take it upon themselves to be authoritarian, the ugly side of humans manifest.
John, the apostle of the Lamb saw these traits and decided to address the issue. Because a leader that possess bad leadership with scatter the people.
3 John 1:9 (NKJV Strong’s) “I wrote to the church, but Diotrephes, who loves to have the preeminence among them, does not receive us.”
So the lead trait was clearly identified.
1. Character flaw number one.
He “loves to have the preeminence among them.” Simply put, he loved to be in the front of the line.
Remember when some of us were in elementary school and it was time to line up?
We would race to be the first in line. It made us feel important. Special. Chosen. King of the hill. First.
This, sometimes, is a revelation that a person doesn’t have a healthy esteem for themselves. So to feel important, they get to the head of the line at the expense of others.
We didn’t care who we knocked over, pushed, shoved, or kicked to the ground. So long as the objective of being first was achieved.
Mark 9:33-37 (NKJV Strong’s) “Then He came to Capernaum. And when He was in the house He asked them, “What was it you disputed among yourselves on the road?” But they kept silent, for on the road they had disputed among themselves who would be the greatest. And He sat down, called the twelve, and said to them,
“If anyone desires to be first, he shall be last of all and servant of all.” Then He took a little child and set him in the midst of them. And when He had taken him in His arms, He said to them, “Whoever receives one of these little children in My name receives Me; and whoever receives Me, receives not Me but Him who sent Me.”
There’s no question that John remembered this lesson because he mentioned Gaius at the beginning of his letter. Gaius had a servant’s attitude. Gaius had a love for the truth. He didn’t care about who was first.
He wanted others to be first. You see, that’s an expression of love that’s missing among fellow ministers. Remember when Paul said that the Lord said, “It’s more blessed to give than to receive.”
This is what Paul meant. A leader gives first and receives last. The heart of a servant never seeks to be first, but seeks that others be first. Gaius didn’t mind being last so long as others are first. I wonder what it would be like if we changed our mentality to put others ahead of ourselves?
Verses 5-8 is the character that was lacking in Diotrephes. He didn’t care about the welfare of others. He only cared about his own image before others. So as a note, never consider yourself ahead of others.
Be the first to be last.
2. Character flaw number two.
Diotrephes wouldn’t receive from his superiors in the ministry.
Dr. Comer who pastors a church in NJ once said that “followship precedes leadership.”
To lead well, you must follow well. But not only did he not want to listen to superiors, he spoke evil of them. This is a clear insecurity trait in those that demand to be at the head of the line. You see, when you’re secure in your place in the Body of Christ, you will listen to leadership and you won’t speak evil of leadership.
Diotrephes spoke words that were malicious or hurtful. He deliberately used words to assassinate John and other leaders. Now, mind you.
John the apostle of the Lamb, wasn’t an “ordinary” apostle.
He walked with the Lord Jesus. John was an eyewitness of the ministry and life of Jesus. He watched Jesus walk on water. He watched Jesus summon fish into a net. He watched blind eyes opened. He watched Jesus sleep on the back of the boat during a storm on a pillow, and the disciples woke Him up and calmed the seas.
He watched devils get cast out. He watched Jesus defy the Sanhedrin. He watched His earthly mother ache at the sight of the Son of God crucified. He watched Jesus walk through a closed door in His resurrected Body, eat fish and bread, and disappeared. And later, be lifted up on a cloud into heaven.
Just imagine being lead by the one that leaned on the chest of Jesus. John heard the heart beat of the Master. John walked with the Lord Jesus, the One that Paul said, “By Him all things consist.”
Jesus created John.
Diotrephes, have a little respect.
John walked and handled the Light of the world. John walked with the Lamb of God that was crucified and raised from the dead. You mean, you couldn’t grasp the fact that John was one of the last, if not, the last of the Lamb’s Personally selected disciples?
Just this knowledge didn’t faze Diotrephes.
He cared less and possibly despised the last living apostle of the Lamb.
Could this be the origin of his despising of John? Possibly.
If that weren’t enough, the brethren had had enough of his childishness and Diotrephes excommunicated the disciples that came. So the disciples that wanted to receive truthful disciples, were also thrown out of the house of worship.
This is typical despotism because when you know you’re wrong, and the disciples see that you’re wrong, either you will correct your behavior, or you’ll cling to your bad behavior and put everyone out that didn’t agree with you.
3. Character flaw number three.
He was a control freak.
I used to watch The Odd Couple. Jack Klugman played Oscar Madison and Felix Unger was played by Tony Randall. Each week it would be about Felix cleaning excessively and putting things in order and Oscar was the cigar smoking, beer drinking filthy room roommate person that didn’t care about how he lived.
At the beginning of each show, when they would walk out of the uptown upscale apartment building, Oscar would throw his cigar on the ground and Felix would use his umbrella to pick up that cigar. Funny stuff.
But Felix was a control freak. And leaders have to some measure of control because we don’t want things to get out of hand, but when we attempt to shift into absolutely control, this is where it’s no longer leadership.
It’s despotism, totalitarian, and rulership beyond reason.
Diotrephes was such a person because there’s times according to Matthew 18:15-20, where you have to put people out. When they refuse to listen to the entire church. But Diotrephes would take it upon himself to exercise absolute rule.
This is unacceptable.
Only One Person has absolute rule over the church. The Head of the Church, the Lord Jesus Christ.
Admittedly, leadership is lonely, but when you can’t stand to be told that you’re wrong, and then other disciples tell you that you’re wrong, you want to get rid of them.
John said that this “is evil.”
If you knew God, you wouldn’t behave this way.
You see, the brethren wanted Diotrephes to get it right, but because he was riding the high horse of pride and riding through, it’s an unforced correctable error.
John said, don’t imitate evil. Don’t be like this. John could have acted the same way by telling Diotrephes John’s status. But I don’t thing John went that way. The lesson that Jesus taught John would not be violated.
Two examples of servant leadership was the contrast necessary for all true believers to observe and follow as opposed to the personality of Diotrephes.
Gaius and Demetrius.
It’s important for us to know that the humility of John is what’s important. Why? This is how you deal with people that are headstrong, malicious, and possess deep seated insecurity issues. Because as long as Diotrephes is alive, to some extent, he’s salvageable.
He can be rescued if he humbled himself.
So are you a Diotrephes?
Or do you have the heart of John, Gaius, and Demetrius?