I wrote to the church, but Diotrephes, who loves to be first, will have nothing to do with us. So if I come, I will call attention to what he is doing, gossiping maliciously about us. Not satisfied with that, he refuses to welcome the brothers. He also stops those who want to do so and puts them out of the church. –3 John 1:9-10
Have you met Diotrephes? Although you haven’t met the person referred to by John in this passage, you’ve probably met somebody like him, at least if you have spent much time around a church. Unfortunately, in assembling the church–a collection of redeemed persons, all of them broken in one way or another–we always seem to get a few whose flaws cause significant problems within the body. Diotrephes, it seems, was one of these sorts, working on his resumé.
If you’re a professional person, you probably have a resumé. It chronicles your education, jobs, abilities, and achievements. Mine is kept in a running document with every academic publication and presentation, every different course and award that I have tallied up over twenty years of teaching. Working on and maintaining a resumé is perfectly appropriate within the professional world. However, it’s a different story within the church.
The churchly resumé-builder will gravitate toward those ministries that gain notice. Teaching fourth-grade Sunday School tends to be a pretty thankless endeavor. Rarely do the “important” people come by and clap you on the back. The same can certainly be said for shoveling snow off the sidewalks after a winter storm. These are not the jobs that the resumaker will desire. Instead, he or she will want to be seen in front of people, recognized by the pastor or other movers and shakers. I guess that this describes Diotrephes, “who loves to be first.”
While you and I cannot do a great deal to put an end to the abuses of the resumakers, we can inspect our own behaviors and attitudes. We can recognize that–now and again–we are all people who love to be first. Then we can recognize that such behavior never serves the church in a positive way.