Avoid Copying Bad Role Models
God gives gifts to enable us to serve Him better, but we have to learn to use them well. John's letter to Gaius was to encourage him in the gift of hospitality, to stretch him to be more generous to travelling missionaries, but also to warn him not to follow bad examples.
One bad role model was Diotrephes. He was a church leader but a proud man who loved to be in control, and refused to accept the authority of the apostles. That was a bad sign because they had been specially appointed by Jesus to establish the true gospel. Their teaching was the authoritative Word of God under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit; and so for Diotrephes to refuse to welcome the apostles, and spread lies about them, showed that his heart was not right.
Even though an essential qualification for church leaders is that they are hospitable (1 Timothy 3:2), that rogue leader would not welcome other believers, and even excommunicated church members who wanted to do so. John is quite blunt in saying that kind of behaviour is evil and does not come from God. Therefore, Gaius must not imitate that bad example.
When we are inexperienced we usually assume that more experienced people are wiser than we are, and we copy them. But we must be careful: is their heart tuned to the Lord's, is their behaviour godly, is their leadership Christ-like? There are no perfect leaders but we must be discerning so that we can wisely choose which role models to copy in ministry as in other areas of life. As we pray about it, the Lord will show us in His Word and in our consciences.
© Dr Paul Adams