December 7, 2015
In John’s third letter, he wrote commending Gaius for his care of the traveling Bible teachers that had visited his church. But John warned Gaius about the bad example of Diotrephes (Greek for “nurtured by Jupiter”) who apparently held some sort of leadership role in the local church and had denied help to the traveling teachers. Among the character flaws that John ascribed to Diotrephes was that he “loves to have the preeminence.” In other words, he was “fond of being first.” He was ambitious and power hungry, unwilling to submit to the apostle John. This is not the paradigm for servant leadership that Jesus taught. He taught that servant leaders were not to lord it over others as the Gentile rulers did, but that whoever would be great must become a servant and whoever would be first, must become a slave (Matt. 20:25-27). When people like Diotrephes take leadership in a church, the church suffers. But John promised Gaius that when he came to visit, he would confront this worldly leadership style.