Bill Campbell

Thoughts of Life and Ministry


In my previous blog I focused on a first century churchman by the name of Diotrephes. The Apostle John labeled Diotrephes as a notorious bad guy in verses 9-13 of his brief third letter. In what way was Diotrephes a bad guy? In several ways. He was divisive. Dictatorial. Iron fisted. Non-accepting of some brethren. Unwilling to receive certain church leaders, John himself being one of them.

Diotrephes was an evident problem for the health and well being of the first century church. But get this:  Diotrephes has not disappeared. Vanished. Left the building. Ceased his existence. He’s produced a few sons and daughters. Others after his kind. Diotrephes is still hanging around. Maybe he’s even in your congregation today.

Do you ignore him? Act like he isn’t there? Tolerate him? Give him space to operate? Cater to a vast assortment of his evil ways and demands?

John had already determined his own course of action with Diotrephes. “If I come, you can be sure I’ll hold him to account …” (The Message – 3 John 10). Thus, he wasn’t going to ignore him. Put up with him. Give him space. Tolerate his evil practices.

Amazingly though, I do not generally find this course of pro-action taken here by John occuring in 21st century congregations. There is rather a spirit of passivity. Hoping he will go away. That he will find another church. Get out of our hair. Finally cease his evil ways.

But it won’t happen. Believe me!! Diotrephes is the Jack Russell Terrier kind of church leader. He enjoys a good fight. In fact, the more he fights, the more determined he becomes to win his battles. How do I know? I’ve experienced his kind. Others in church leadership have also shared their stories with me about Diotrephes.

What are some ways to deal with the Diotrephes types in your congregation? That’s the important question. Answering this question will help deal more effectively with a Diotrephes type. Here are my suggestions.

  • Teach regularly in the church about the significant and subtle difference between power and authority. Why? Because  authority is something that’s delegated, power isn’t. Diotrephes types assume power and then exercise it with vigor. But be careful even to those whom you delegate the role of authority in your church. For authority can be delegated to the wrong persons. Always remember: “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure!”
  • Be sure that you do not allow a Diotrephes to turn you into one of his own kind. For he is generally a master at plying his trade. He can make you think that following him is the right path. The correct path. Even as you openly confront and address him you can easily develop into a Diotrephes type yourself. I’ve seen this happen over and over. Be cautious here!!
  • Develop kingdom thinking in your church as opposed to mere institutional thinking. When church leaders become overly concerned with the church institution, running the church that is, they veer off in the wrong direction. This is because the church is not about politically advancing the religious positions of humans; it is rather about the kingdom thinking of our Lord and what matters to Him. Is your church directed by persons with the kingdom eyes of Jesus, or, the institutional eyes of misled church leaders like Diotrephes??
  • Prayer is the most significant Divine resource for dealing with any problem. It is especially important in dealing with a Diotrephes. Pray for those who are Diotrephes types. Pray that you and others do not become a member of the Diotrephes family.

My thoughts offered here are only suggestive and not exhaustive. If it moves your thinking in the direction of responsibly dealing with a Diotrephes, then my purpose will have been achieved. For I am committed to having a healthy church in these unhealthy times in which we find ourselves.


November 23, 2012 - Posted by | Christ, Christian Life, Church, Church and Family, Church and Ministry, Church Growth, Church Health, Church Leadership, Church Unity, Coaching, Discipleship, God, Outreach, Prayer, Relationships, Scripture, Service, Spirituality, The Devil

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