‘Diotrephes … loves to have the preeminence.’ 3 John 1:9 NKJV
Some people are so insecure and easily threatened that they feel a need to tear down anyone they perceive as a competitor. Consider Diotrephes, one of the New Testament church leaders. He found himself in a real dilemma when John recommended some gifted teachers of the Gospel to come and speak at his church. Plagued with insecurity, Diotrephes feared their visit would threaten his own pre-eminence, so he refused to allow them to come. John, upset with Diotrephes’ behaviour, outlined to his friend Gaius how he planned to deal with it. ‘I wrote to the church, but Diotrephes, who loves to have the preeminence among them, does not receive us. Therefore, if I come, I will call to mind his deeds which he does, prating against us with malicious words. And not content with that, he himself does not receive the brethren, and forbids those who wish to, putting them out of the church. Beloved, do not imitate what is evil, but what is good. He who does good is of God, but he who does evil has not seen God.’ (3 John 1:9-11 NKJV) The sad truth is that you’ll find the spirit of Diotrephes alive and well in both secular and sacred organisations. They cast aspersions on newcomers perceived as threatening. They accuse bright, talented women of getting ahead by means other than their skills, talents and qualifications. They look for chinks in their victims’ armour. But contrary to what they think, diminishing another person’s image isn’t going to enhance theirs. The origin of our word for ‘devil’ comes from diabolos, which is literally translated as ‘to slander’. To slander, then, is to do the devil’s work!