N’s Prioritize Pride Over Principle

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Have you ever noticed how certain prominent people “switch sides”, or positions on something they previously adamantly defended?

There are times when these switches are reasonable based on newly acquired information or wisdom.  But often these pivots are based simply on personal pride rather than a moral foundation.  The person making the surprising switch does it because they found defending their pride more important than maintaining their (weak, at best) principles.   Consider these Biblical examples:

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Diotrephes was willing to throw people out of the church who dared go against him in welcoming others.  He sacrificed true pastoral ministry for being top dog in the church.

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“I [John] wrote something to the church; but Diotrephes, who loves to be first among them, does not accept what we say. For this reason, if I come, I will call attention to his deeds which he does, unjustly accusing us with wicked words; and not satisfied with this, he himself does not receive the brethren, either, and he forbids those who desire to do so and puts them out of the church. 

3 John 1:9-10

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Similarly, the Scribes and Pharisees rejected their pastoral responsibilities, preferring to excommunicate those who gave any credence to their prime competition, Jesus.

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His parents said this because they were afraid of the Jews; for the Jews had already agreed that if anyone confessed Him to be Christ, he was to be put out of the synagogue. 23 For this reason his parents said, “He is of age; ask him.”     John 9:22-23

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They also refused to help others into the Kingdom since they themselves didn’t want to go, but worked overtime to recruit others to follow them on the road to perdition.   They valued their personal agenda and status over the welfare of others.

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 “But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, because you shut off the kingdom of heaven from people; for you do not enter in yourselves, nor do you allow those who are entering to go in. 

 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, because you travel around on sea and land to make one proselyte; and when he becomes one, you make him twice as much a son of `hell as yourselves.

Matthew 23:13-15

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In each case, the narcissist made their own exaltation and agenda a priority over the moral principles which their roles required.

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Narcissism Case Studies – Diotrephes

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3 John 1:9-10

9 I wrote something to the church; but Diotrephes, who loves to be first among them, does not accept what we say. 10 For this reason, if I come, I will call attention to his deeds which he does, unjustly accusing us with wicked words; and not satisfied with this, he himself does not receive the brethren, either, and he forbids those who desire to do so and puts them out of the church.

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The tip-off to Diotrephes’ narcissism / insolent pride was his “love to be first among them”.   His insolent pride resulted in

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  • Not accepting what the apostle John was saying.
  • Accusing John with wicked words
  • Not receiving (ie – providing the opportunity) others who might challenge him
  • Getting rid of those who might possibly side with others

Classic narcissist behavior.

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Tragically, there are too many pastors and leaders of ministries who have the “Diotrephes Syndrome”.  Their core purpose is self-exaltation instead of shepherding the flock of God.  They construct their “ministries” and message around what will best serve their delusions of grandeur.  These are some of the false prophets whom Jesus warned us about

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Matthew 7:15-16

15 “Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves. 16 You will know them by their fruits.

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God will ultimately deal with these guys.  One way of protecting against them is to use a Biblically-based church leadership model of shared leadership.
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