Read Titus 1.
Over the course of my lifetime, I have heard of and met some highly authoritarian pastors. Once I was running a conference for pastors and one pastor who called to register for the conference lectured me for three or four minutes about an aspect of our ministry that he did not like. Then I told me he would like to attend our conference. I asked for his first name so I could enter it into the registration form. Then he lectured me about how he never lets anyone use his first name. To show respect to him and his office as a pastor, he insisted that everyone call him “Dr. S__” [name withheld]. So, his first name became “Dr.,” at least for the conference registration form and badge.
On another occasion, I heard from a very reputable source about a pastor who told a man he needed to remodel his home–not the pastor’s home, the home of the guy receiving the instruction. The guy gutted his house and took years to remodel it, in part because he needed the pastor’s approval for every major decision–floor coverings, wall placement, paint colors, etc.
I guess some pastors feel that they have a prophetic gift or at least that they have a level of wisdom that the average guy in the pew can never have. Probably, though, they just like to control people. Maybe somebody thinks this makes for good pastoral leadership, but not God. God said here in Titus that a pastor (or elder or overseer–it’s the same office in scripture with multiple names) “must be… not overbearing” (v. 7b). Why? Because, verse 7 says, he “manages God’s household.”
That last phrase is key. If Calvary Bible Church were my household, I could run it any way that I wanted. But it isn’t my household; it is God’s. Part of being a faithful manager, a good leader, is to run God’s household in his way which means being a servant-leader, not a dictator who insists on honorific titles or tries to control every decision of everyone’s life.
I had a guy ask me once if he should get a reverse mortgage. He wasn’t asking me if it was biblical or moral to do so; just whether or not he should. I guess I could answer those kinds of questions. I supposed I could make another man’s decisions for him.
But that is not what elders do.
If an elder in our church–me or one of the other men who lead with me–starts acting like this, it is a key sign that we are spiritually unfit to serve as leaders of God’s household.
It is important for you to think about your role in the church as well. I cannot make you live a godly life. I could bully you about reading the scripture or coming to church or something else, I guess, but that’s not what God called me to do. What we as elders are charged to do is “to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up” (Eph 4:12) It is our job as elders to lead, to teach, to encourage, and to rebuke sometimes but it is your job to put the truth into practice.
Don’t follow an overbearing church leader, but do take what we try to do for you seriously so that our church will grow in Christ.