I wrote to the church, but Diotrephes, who loves to be first, will not welcome us. (3 John 9)
He was the lid. Everyone at church knew it, including him. He held the power. He had the final word. Unless he felt a ministry was necessary, he was an immovable obstacle to its success.
To him, children and youth ministry were an inconvenience. His priorities were adult ministry, church building maintenance, and strengthening the church’s already large financial reserves. He loved the Lord and church but loved his control more.
The church withered under his stranglehold. Pastors came and left quickly. Church board meetings were battlefields. The once-vibrant congregation became stagnant. Congregants started to leave seeking healthy churches where they could serve and grow. Conversations among the frustrated who remained mourned the wasted ministry opportunities and began sentences with, “Maybe after he is gone, we can . . . .”
One summer, the youth leader asked for help running the cotton-candy machine during a children’s event. The “Lid” unexpectedly and unprecedentedly volunteered. He arrived and began serving the children. Soon he responded to the kids’ smiles and began smiling and laughing in return.
The youth leader watched the exchange and recognized a holy moment of transformation. At the next church board meeting, the “Lid” approved funding for a children’s program request. The “lid” had been lifted. And on that day when “he was gone,” the church sincerely mourned his passing.
Love the Lord more than control.
Janelle Vernon serves The Wesleyan Church as executive director of Communication and Administration, general secretary, and publisher for Wesleyan Publishing House.
© 2021 Wesleyan Publishing House. Reprinted from Light from the Word. Used by permission. Scriptures taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®.