Read 3 John
Focus on verse 9-10
Leadership would be easy if one didn’t have to deal with people. If every group of people has at least one obstinate person, and you find yourself in a group of people and there does not appear to be an obstinate person among them, it is highly likely you’re the one.
In today’s reading the aging Apostle John writes to Gaius, a member of the church whom he knew to be friendly toward the apostles. Apparently a key leader in the church named Diotrephes did not accept the authority of the apostles and was attempting start a new denomination or something. John calmly assures Gaius that he will deal with the uprising if and when he comes to visit the church.
I have written something to the church, but Diotrephes, who likes to put himself first, does not acknowledge our authority. So if I come, I will bring up what he is doing, talking wicked nonsense against us. And not content with that, he refuses to welcome the brothers, and also stops those who want to and puts them out of the church. (v. 9-10)
These kind of shenanigans have apparently been going on in the church since its beginning, proving once again that becoming a follower of Jesus does not immediately eradicate the human tendency to sin. What I appreciate in this short little letter is the levelheaded matter of factness that John displays as he writes about it. His message to Gaius essentially saying, “I know what’s going on and I know it’s a problem. We’ll take care of it when I get there, until them, don’t lose any sleep over it.”
If only all church leaders had that kind of confidence and decisiveness when it comes to handling obstinate people. We are not told in the scriptures exactly how this issue was resolved or how it turned out, but I expect that if John did make it to visit the church – he will have dealt with Diotrephes in a manner appropriate to his behavior. I would like to think that Diotrephes repented of his behavior and became a faithful and humble member of that local community, but I rather suspect he would have left the church in a huff – with a few of his minions doggedly following him out – to cause trouble in the church down the road. It apparently is a pattern that is as old as the church. So today’s lesson – “Don’t be a Diotrephes! Be like Gaius!”