Church bullies have always been part of the ecclesiastical landscape.
They had them in the first century, as evidenced by the tiny epistle of Third John. A brute named Diotrephes was ruling his congregation with a strong hand. The Evangelist John turned the spotlight on what the man was doing, which ordinarily is sufficient to arouse the congregation to unseat the man. John ended with a promise: “If I come, I will call attention to what he is doing.”
Don’t miss the understatement of that: “I will call attention to what he is doing.”
That will be quite enough. When the Beloved Apostle (for so was John known in the early church) stands before an adoring congregation and informs the membership what their so-called leader has been doing behind their backs, they will deal with him.
That has always been the Lord’s plan: Tell the church, expose the brute, expect God’s people to do the right thing.
We’re not talking about taking matters into our own hands or doing anything heavy-handed.
Even though the flesh wants to drag the church boss out back and give him “what for,” that is never the right approach. Nor should we plot and maneuver and scheme behind closed doors. The Lord’s people must never adopt the deceitful tactics of the tyrants. We are to be “as shrewd as snakes and as gentle as doves” (Matthew 10:16).
American history provides a near-perfect example of how to bring down a bully. It’s not a simple story, but I’ll do my best…