From a small book in the Bible, this character named Diotrephes (pronounced di-ah-trophies), gives us some great insight on a star’s war with leadership. These characteristics are not becoming of one in such a high position of leadership and we all would do well to learn from his missteps.
What’s in a name?
The name Diotrephes actually means: “nourished by Zeus”. Obviously, we don’t get to choose our names but we do get to choose what kind of name we have. Proverbs says that a good name is rather to be chosen than choice riches (Proverbs 22:1). It has also been said that it takes a lifetime to build a reputation and a moment to destroy it. A leader must take great steps at molding and shaping his character and reputation among people. He must model and learn from others and in turn be a good model and teach others. Here are 5 qualities every leader will have to deal with to maintain a great reputation.
5 Qualities You Don’t Want as a Leader: An intimate Look at 3 John 9-10
Pride. It’s difficult for anyone, especially leaders, to keep the right perspective on who they are, why they have a particular position and what to do with power. Darth Diotrephes “loved to be first”. This is something that irked the author and would have irked Jesus! Luke 14:7-14. One of the greatest challenges a leader will face is that of being first and feeling as though the places of honor belong to them. However, Jesus’ kingdom is vastly different from this. Jesus often spoke of serving and yielding. Someone once said that “Christian leadership is being able to give your best without being first”.
Antagonistic. Diotrephes did not want to accept the author’s statements. He didn’t want to be submissive to anyone for any reason. He was a know-it-all and all too happy to tell you about it. He certainly didn’t want anyone challenging his authority. This is not a good quality for a Christian leader.
As a leader, sometimes we may be called to support or encourage others in their leadership. We certainly do not know everything and therefore being teachable is a desirable attribute for anyone to embrace. Diotrephes suffered from pride and rebellion, two qualities that God despises.
Unjust. This local church leader participated in slander, lies, rumors, gossip and deconstructive criticism. There would be little debate from anyone over the power of words. A leader of high caliber must carefully watch his words and maintain a high level of respect for the power of speech. Our words have weight as leaders and we must choose them wisely. Diotrephes willfully chose wicked words, falsely accusing the author without any just cause.
Inhospitable. Diotrephes was not willing to take in or be bothered with visitors. They required time and energy he did not want to expend. He was selfish and in no way warm or welcoming. He only wanted to do what worked into his schedule. This flies completely in the face of all that Jesus desires. Jesus was always kind to strangers. He even compelled His followers to treat their enemies with the best and beyond expectation. Matthew 5:39-48
Prejudice. The issue of accepting others (Gentiles) was a difficult practice for many Jews, even those who had seen and followed Christ closely. As a leader it is of utmost importance that we accept all people without accepting behaviors. We can accept people without adopting their concepts, ideas, or lifestyles. Diotrephes did not believe in accepting non-Jewish people into the church and did not want to associate with people who did.
How would you rate yourself on the qualities mentioned above? (1 is low 10 is high)
Some verses to look at for the following struggles:
Pride: Proverbs 8:13, 16:18, 29:23
Antagonistic: Luke 11:1, 12:12 Romans 2:21, 2 Timothy 2:2
Unjust: Psalm 25:9, 33:5, 37:28, 89:14
Inhospitable: Romans 12:13, Hebrews 13:2
Prejudice: 1 Samuel 16:7, Galatians 3:28
(Portions of this study have been adapted from Steve Farrar’s book Finishing Strong)