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3 John 9

Diotrephes

Pastor H. A. Ironside had a man in his church who always tried to run the board meetings. If Ironside agreed with him, all went well. But when he disagreed, he would receive a harsh letter from the man, who sarcastically addressed him as “Dear Diotrephes.” Actually, the board member deserved the title, not Ironside, who was known for his graciousness.

In John’s third letter we read about Diotrephes, who wanted to be a boss in the early church. Overly ambitious and domineering, he opposed the apostle John and set himself up as a dictator over those in his spiritual care. Anyone who took exception to him was dismissed from the congregation.

The problem of bossy church leaders was not limited to the first century. A. T. Robertson wrote a magazine article in which he rebuked leaders who follow in the footsteps of Diotrephes. After it was published, he received letters from at least 25 different church leaders, demanding that their subscriptions to the magazine be canceled. Although Robertson had never met any of them, they all said in effect, “You have personally attacked me!”

A lust for power springs from pride and selfishness. In contrast, Jesus served in humility and obedience to His Father (Phil. 2:8). He must be our pattern.

Our Daily Bread, October 25, 1992