3 John 9
Whoa. Selfish thinking in the Body of Christ is highly disruptive It causes damage and division. It works against the plan of God. It short-circuits divine authority by exalting self. It is dangerous and also more widespread than we imagine. Diotrephes lives! Be very afraid!
There are a couple of dangers of selfish leadership shown here in this short section on Diotrephes (3 John 9-10). They serve as warnings. The first is an attitude, the second is an action. The attitude is personal arrogance. It is a self-loving, thick pride that exalts personality above scriptural principle. This attitude by the leader sees his role and his very personality as the pinnacle of all things important in the ministry. His books will solve all your problems. His teaching will give you your “best life now”. His success can be yours (for a suggested donation of $30). God only works through him… 8x10 glossies in the bulletin and if you make your donation today, you can get your photo taken with him in the lobby! The line forms behind him and your American Express card is more than welcome. This is the cult of personality now abused at the expense of the reputation and cause of Christ. Pick your evangelical worship center of choice or nearly any local retail Christian bookstore. It is proudly on display.
The actions from such selfish ministry are easy to spot. No one else gets a voice in or to the ministry. Diotrephes was so arrogant that he refused even apostolic authority. He spoke against the apostles (maybe in a best seller preceded by an “open letter”). He refused to let any other recognized teacher into the congregation. And if someone else internally in the church welcomed any other teacher than him, excommunication ensued. Celebrity is so out of character with the humble service Jesus insisted upon (Mark 9:30-37).
This sounds sadly familiar because the sins of Diotrephes always follow pride-filled leaders in the church. The remedy is harsh and painfully severe (John would confront it personally). But it is necessary to restore peace and the centrality of the gospel. When will we learn that the only person to be celebrated in the church is Jesus?