“The root of self-elevation is an inflated view of our thoughts, opinions, and abilities.”
Thoughts from daily Bible reading for today – March 9, 2023
I wrote to the church, but Diotrephes, who loves to be first, will not welcome us. 3 John 1:9, NIV
Few things are more deeply hardwired into our humanity than our love of being loved.
The root of self-elevation is an inflated view of our thoughts, opinions, and abilities. Simply put, we are convinced that our way is right, and that others would do well to get on board, and the sooner they figure this out, the better! Interestingly, the more time and effort we spend grasping at power and influence, the more energy we must exert to continue to cling to it. And perhaps most damaging of all, when we are in love with our own leadership, we create a lonely and isolated world in which we must live.
By definition, a love of being first categorizes the world into “winners” and “losers.” There can only be one winner, and so anyone else, especially those with natural or Sprit-given leadership abilities are seen, not as potential partners or collaborators in the shared work of the gospel, but as threats that need to be eliminated and put in their proper place.
Sadly, even the early church was not immune from this impulse. In 3 John we are told that Diotrephes, a leader in the early Christian community, “loves to be first,” and saw the Apostle John as a direct and immediate threat to his control over the community. His leadership was driven by fear, and fear kept him from receiving the gift of partnership and shared leadership.
Fear is a universal emotion. We’ve all felt it in one way or another. Perhaps you’ve feared for your safety or the health of someone you love. You’ve likely faced the fear of rejection and having your vulnerabilities exposed and exploited. Yet today, we must focus on a particular fear, one that can impact all of us, regardless of our level of power or authority.
Be attentive to the fear of losing your importance, however real or perceived it may be.
In my local church, every Sunday we sing a simple hymn: “Only one is holy, and that one is the Lord, Jesus Christ, to the glory of God the Father. Amen.” If you resist the leadership or influence of another, chances are you’ve fallen prey to this trap of needing to be first and in truth, have likely lost sight of the one who is worthy of such elevation.
Only one is holy…which means every single one of us thus leads as submitted servants under his guiding hand. Let us, therefore, flee the trap of comparison and look to our brothers and sisters, not as threats to our ego or influence, but as fellow servants to the King.
Father, set us free from the curse of self-love, and help us to set our sights fully on you and your coming kingdom, through Christ our Lord. Amen.
Take the lines of this hymn with you throughout the day today, praying them in your heart whenever you find yourself tempted toward the need to be first: “Only one is holy, and that one is the Lord, Jesus Christ, to the glory of God the Father. Amen.”
Brenton Brown: Humble King
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