Ministry is not for the faint of heart. Satan is a master at scheming how to destroy the church, and he often uses Diotrephes-like people to do it. The Biblical way to identify a Diotrephes is simple: look for those who demand to be preeminent in all things, to be in the place where only God belongs—on the throne of preeminence.
5. Those with the DNA of Diotrephes are a divisive presence in the Body of Christ.
Since Diotrephes always had to be first, the interest of unity in Christ took a back seat to his desire for preeminence. Mark it down, when our agenda usurps the greater good of the Body of Christ, we inevitably end up causing great harm to the unity of God’s people.
Wanting to be first means having to tear down others to make ourselves look good. That could possibly mean making others look less intelligent than us. Thinking others aren’t as gifted as us. Belittling the input of others because in our hearts, we think we have the situation figured out better than they do.
Consider for a moment how much having to be first gets in the way of God-mandated unity within the local church. Take your time and ponder the truth of the following verses and how much God prioritizes the pursuit of unity:
For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. (Rom. 12:4–5)
So then let us pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding.” (Rom. 14:19)
May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Rom. 15:5–6)
Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel. (Phil. 1:27)
So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.” (Phil. 2:1–3)
Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind. (1 Pet. 3:8)
If you care about unity in your local church, you’ll go to great lengths to avoid the temptation to be first in all things.
6. Those with the DNA of Diotrephes have a bad attitude toward God-ordained authority.
According to 3 John 9, Diotrephes “does not acknowledge our authority.” John didn’t just have authority; he had apostolic authority—the kind we don’t see outside the canon of the completed and sufficient Scriptures. Those with the DNA of Diotrephes have a pattern of disdain toward the leaders God has sovereignly brought into their lives.
When it comes to authority, here’s a great way to bless your church: be easily pastored. Here’s another way to say it: be easy to shepherd, teach, and even lovingly rebuke. Being a thorn in your pastor’s side will only hurt you and your church’s overall ministry. (See Hebrews 13:17 for reference.)