Monday, November 5, 2007

Church Leadership Gone Bad



Faithful, biblical, godly leadership is exemplified by submission to biblical authority and Christlike servant leadership, leadership gone bad is the polar opposite and typified by a man John refers to named Diotrephes-

I have written something to the church, but Diotrephes, who likes to put himself first, does not acknowledge our authority. - 3 John 1:14

Diatrephes thinks of himself as the authority. Furthermore, when the Apostles write or send their messengers, Diotrephes discredits their authority as he doesn’t even acknowledge them. This denotes a rejection of Apostolic authority which, translated to our day, means the rejection of biblical authority. This is the quintessential component of failed spiritual leadership- it fails to acknowledge the authority of the bible. There is no greater destroyer than the one who discredits God’s Word while at the same time claims to be leading the congregation as “God’s Man”. Look how far Diotrephes went in his disrespect for God’s ordained authority-

So if I come, I will bring up what he is doing, talking wicked nonsense against us. And not content with that, he refuses to welcome the brothers, and also stops those who want to and puts them out of the church. -3 John 1:10

He not only badmouths the Apostles, but he personally rejects the messengers sent by them! He does so to the point of putting them out of the church. The rejection of biblical authority can take more than one form. On one hand, it could be the outright rejection of the bible as anything more than a human work- the notion that Scripture is merely a human document whose primary validity lies in the fact that it records the experience of persons who are open to God's presence. In this view, the Bible is not a revealed text, nor is it God's exclusive revelation. The ongoing task of theologically liberal "Christians" is to re-interpret the Bible in light of a contemporary worldview. On the other hand, it could be the practice, within churches who proudly declare the Bible to be God’s Word, to add to Scripture human fences or safeguards. Pretty soon, to the onlooker who is unaware of Christianity, this set of extrabiblical rules imposed by well meaning people makes a caricature of Christianity. Basically, this is legalism. Legalism is a form of disrespect to biblical authority and can lead directly to forsaking biblical authority.

Church leadership gone bad is typified by the misuse of Scripture, or even the outright rejection of it. This is usually closely related to a certain leadership style or approach. Diotrephes is a classic example of this- he is not a servant leader focused on Christ, but rather a dictatorial leader focused on self:

I have written something to the church, but Diotrephes, who likes to put himself first, -3 John 1:9

What a legacy to leave! Imagine if Diotrephes is an official, ordained elder in the church. The way he is known is as one who “likes to put himself first”. Could there be a greater recipe for disaster than to have a leader or leaders who want themselves to be first. Their opinions need to be first, their “rights” need to be first. Praise the Lord Jesus did not demand His “rights”. None of us would be saved. This selfishness of Diotrephes undoubtedly fueled his wicked actions. Notice verse 10-

...talking wicked nonsense against us. And not content with that, he refuses to welcome the brothers, and also stops those who want to and puts them out of the church - 3 John 1:10

Who knows if Diotrephes began genuinely. The some total of his presence, however, was to draw attention from Christ and onto himself and his opinions.

"Many spirits are abroad in the world and the church,and the credentials they display are splendid gifts of eloquence and ability. Christian, look carefully. Ask for the print of the nails." -Justin Martyr

1 comment:

Frontier Forest said...

Well pontificated! “There is no greater destroyer than the one who discredits God’s Word while at the same time claims to be leading the congregation as ‘God’s Man”’. Here’s a verse that all of us have should keep available in our mental and spoken vocabulary. “For certain persons have crept in unnoticed, those who were long beforehand marked out for this condemnation, ungodly persons who turn the grace of our God into licentiousness and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.” (Jude 4)