"Therefore, I exhort the elders among you, as your fellow elder and witness of the sufferings of Christ, and a partaker also of the glory that is to be revealed,
2 shepherd the flock of God among you, exercising oversight (F)not under compulsion, but voluntarily, according to the will of God; and not for sordid gain, but with eagerness;
3nor yet as lording it over those allotted to your charge, but proving to be examples to the flock."
1 Peter 5:1-5
What happens when the leaders of our churches choose to abuse their authority? When we are part of a body of believers, we are taught to submit to authority regardless of whether they are right or wrong. My question has become whether or not this is biblical. In order to answer my question I had to do some serious exploring and soul searching.
Spiritual abuse is easily explained as power with little or no restraint. It is a result of pride. Those in authority often fail to recognize they are not the mouthpiece of God and can be wrong. They tend to forget the true reasons why they have been given authority and the purpose that it serves. Instead it is often used it to control or manipulate those who follow and trust them for guidance.
The most dangerous are those who abuse their authority through a subtle form of pride. This form of pride comes disguised as humility, but the second this person is challenged or questioned, the monster within appears. This particular form of abuse uses guilt to demand obedience and threatens those not willing to comply with dis-fellowship. These actions are often in an attempt to protect a certain “image” of a leader, or of the church itself.
Many pastors or leaders believe that their authority comes directly from God and nowhere else. These people then elevate themselves to the same level of God, leaving them with no accountability, and the power to micromanage their followers. None of those actions follow the example of Jesus, thus making this belief wrong and sinful.