Here is a biblical principle every Christian needs to learn- we are to be subject one to another. That includes people in leadership positions. That includes ministers and pastors. It means every Christian. I do believe God calls people to be ministers and also gives them some authority if He calls them to pastor. And at the same time, every believer has authority from God.
God doesn’t love those in the ministry more than He does all other believers. There is no big me and little you in the body of Christ. (Read 1 Corinthians 12.) We are all fitly joined together by God’s Spirit. Ministers simply have been given an ability or gift from God, just as EVERY believer has gifts and callings of God. A pastor is no more important to God than the person who encourages others. There is so much that could be said on this matter.
In this authority (remember we must consider the *whole* of what the Bible teaches on a subject and not just shout out “obey them…!”), God also said no one was to lord over another. That’s not how God wants the Church to work. There is a difference in being a shepherd, a guide, as compared to demanding and lording over people. It is the latter that is evidenced in unhealthy churches.
A true leader, one with the heart of a servant, does not need to shout he has authority, nor flaunt it. He does not lord it over church members. Instead of demanding that everyone be in subjection to him, he allows himself to be in subjection to members- just as all believers are to be in subjection to one another.
Liken it to a marriage. After the fall, God placed the husband over the wife. Yet his authority doesn’t translate to dictatorship and lording over his wife. The husband is to love his wife as Christ loves the Church. The wife is to respect her husband. If everyone exhibits their mutual subjection one to another, the marriage operates as it should. The husband may have the final say in some matter, for instance, but he also listens to and considers the input of his wife, having her welfare in mind.
Understand that true biblical authority is not what you have encountered and heard about in unhealthy churches. It’s not about blindly doing whatever a pastor or minister says. It’s not about the pastor saying you cannot go to some other church. It’s not about ruling with an iron first. It’s not about telling you what you may and may not wear or where you may or may not go. It’s so very, very different from all of that. If ministers have the heart of a servant, as they should, they will not be abusive. If they do not, they should not be a leader as Jesus taught leaders are to serve.
Ephesians 5:18-21 (NLT): Instead, be filled with the Holy Spirit, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs among yourselves, and making music to the Lord in your hearts. And give thanks for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. And further, submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.