3 John 1:5-7 Beloved, thou doest faithfully whatsoever thou doest to the brethren, and to strangers; (6) Which have borne witness of thy charity before the church: whom if thou bring forward on their journey after a godly sort, thou shalt do well: (7) Because that for his name’s sake they went forth, taking nothing of the Gentiles.
The Apostle John, who wrote five books in the New Testament which include The Gospel of John, 1st John, 2nd John, 3rd John, and Revelation, shows to us in this shortest of New Testament books, a very important attribute of servant-leadership. It is something that, if one is not open to seeing, could be missed completely and probably is missed to the casual Bible reader who is just trying to complete their daily Bible reading and sees the brevity of this letter as an easy task.
As a Pastor, along with teaching Biblical doctrines and practical application of the Bible to my congregation, I often find myself teaching on personal development coupled with leadership principles, so certain words and events tend to stand out to me from those perspectives as well.
In the scriptures above, Gaius is the recipient of this letter and he apparently would take care of travelling ministers as they passed through his town while preaching the Gospel. There was also a church there because John would later have to deal with some issues in that church, which we’ll talk about in a later post.
Gaius was well known by John as being someone who took care of these travelling ministers and Gaius probably did these things without looking for any kind of emotional payoff from others; no likes on Facebook; just good, old fashioned love for God and appreciation for the ministry of the Gospel.
In this world of social media it seems like people think the smallest thought or deed should be recorded, noticed, and praised and so they post it on their social media accounts and wait for the responses to roll in, and there will be people who give those responses even to the smallest and most mundane of things thus creating this never-ending feedback loop among the needy and the needed. While social media can have its place and be a kind of blessing even to the work of God, it is certainly not without its downfalls.
I believe John wanted to send Gaius this letter as a way of not only thanking him for his sacrificial service to the kingdom of God (which would probably have been considered an honor in itself) but by giving him a bigger gift even than that.
What gift is that? The gift to Gaius was feedback. This gave Gaius the “30,000 foot view” of the bigger plan and mission and let him see from way up high (John’s perspective) where Gaius’ efforts fit into that plan and mission down on the ground. As John would put it, verse 8 – …that we might be fellowhelpers to the truth. In other words, “Gaius, your personal efforts are helping to ensure that the truth of God’s word continues to be preached and people are given the chance to be saved! Ultimately we are building God’s kingdom and this is how your efforts fit into that!”.
Additionally, it was not just intellectual information nor an emotional outburst of “Yippy, yippy Gaius is awesome!”, but genuine and practical feedback about how Gaius’ personal efforts fit into and helped the greater mission. This is not something that had to be given all the time, nor should it be expected all the time, but it no doubt helped Gaius realize that his efforts weren’t being taken for granted but that he was serving a bigger purpose.
This approach can be applied in any setting where people are involved and it’s something I’m currently working on implementing at my own level of leadership as I also grow and develop personally. I’m sure it was appreciated by the one receiving it because it not only showed he was having a positive impact, but it also showed him where he stood in the heart of the Apostle; something I’m sure meant a lot to Gaius.