Controlling. Domineering. Authoritarian. These are just a few words in current leadership circles some use to describe an effective leader. And what’s even worse is these are words some in the church use to describe an effective leader. (We know this to be historically true because Diotrephes embodies them and because there is a church full of people following him. We know this to be true today because we can look around the evangelical world and read stories of pastors and church boards living by these same standards and values.) What was true of some back then is true of some today.

So what does Diotrephes do that is so wrong? How does he exhibit “Wrong Way Leadership”? Perhaps his main error is stated in verse 9 when John writes, “but Diotrephes, who loves to be first, will not welcome us.” In five simple words John lets us know Diotrephes is not a servant- leader and is therefore not modeling the way of Jesus.

But what is the way of Jesus? In Mark 10:45 He says, “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” This is quite a remarkable statement considering 1) Jesus doesn’t have a lot of followers at this point in His life, and 2) He has all the power in the world. (Some things to think about here are – 1) Do good leaders have to have a lot of followers to be good leaders? That depends. Is leadership based on influence or followers? We all may not have followers, but we all have influence. 2) What do you do with the power you have? Do you draw on it to impose your will on people, or do you lay it aside and serve them in love?)

The pull and draw of the world you are about to go into today will entice you to a “wrong way” kind of leadership. Let the words of Jesus draw you back and redirect you to focus on leading well by serving the people He has given you to influence.

Question: Who is one person you can serve today? How will you do this?

Pastor Scott Smith

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