Have confidence in your leaders and submit to their authority, because they keep watch over you as those who must give an account. Do this so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no benefit to you. (NIV)
Those of us engaged in leading and pastoring a church often hope and pray that those in the church will read and heed such biblical instruction. If church members make their leaders’ life miserable, then it does no one any good. A discouraging and even toxic environment is created. Church becomes a burden rather than a relief from a burden.
However, there is another side to this. The leader is not to abuse his or her position. Strong assertive leadership can become bullying. Exercise of proper authority can become authoritarianism. Teaching the infallible Scripture does not mean the teacher is infallible. Watching over people does not mean control of their lives.
It is sad when a critical spirit develops in a church. It is just as sad when those in authority are intolerant of criticism and surround themselves with their own private fan club. Respect for a leader may sometimes involve challenging them or rebuking them. A wise leader will not see this as disloyalty or rebellion.
We have to beware of what might be called “The Mighty Man of God” syndrome, where a leader with a magnetic personality is seen as the mouthpiece of God himself. Such an attitude does not encourage humility and accountability. Leaders who put themselves on pedestals, and those who push them onto such pedestals need to be careful. You can easily fall off pedestals.