I have noticed in my years of consulting with congregations that there one of the common dysfunctions in the church is an underlying distrust of their leaders.
Sometimes this mistrust manifests itself by those loud voices that love to be heard in congregational meetings where behind the opinions and complaints one can often hear distrust. At other times this mistrust manifests itself in criticisms of leadership and their decisions that is like a low level dissonance that is always present.
Mistrust of leaders is one of the reasons that it can be difficult to convince the right people to serve in church leadership. It is a hard job in the best of circumstances and in the difficult times thankless. When there is mistrust there is no healthy appreciation of the work or challenges that leaders face.
I am not speaking here of criticism when leaders have done a poor job, have failed to act, don't face up to realities that are evident to others or make foolish decisions. What I am speaking of is the all to often default position of congregations to constantly second guess their leaders and view them through a lens of mistrust. Even here, however, our attitude counts and the words we use do as well.
Where does this come from?
In many cases it is a reflection of our national polity where we are trained to distrust leaders. That is precisely why our government was established with three co-equal branches of government to provide checks and balances against any one branch having too much power. Not a bad idea given the corruption of power in national polity. We learn early not to trust leaders in the political arena. We are jaded by corruption, misuse of power, use of office for personal gain, and personal agendas that are not always good agendas for the population at large.
But notice the context here. It is a secular context in a fallen world.
We actually live in two worlds simultaneously. The fallen world and God's Kingdom and in His Kingdom the attitudes and are different than in society. For instance, the Fruit of the Spirit is what should flow from His people. Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness and self control are all attitudes and results of living in Christ.
The same should be true of attitudes of trust for leadership in the church. We ought to start from a place of trust rather than the place of mistrust that is often the case in society at large. Kingdom leaders should act in ways that are trustworthy and Kingdom people should respond in kind.
The ugliness of attitudes toward leadership that we see in the political arena should not characterize the attitudes toward leadership in the church although it often does. Where it does, we have not done an adequate job of teaching what it means to be God's people living together under Christ and His leadership.
Furthermore, even when church leaders don't live up to our expectations - how we address those issues matters. When congregational meetings or attitudes reflect anything else than the Fruit of the Spirit we have failed. By that standard, many congregational meetings fail the test. When ungodly attitudes are on full display in a congregation, it says more about the congregation's spiritual condition than it does the decisions of leadership.
All of this goes to what we teach our congregations about attitudes in the church and God's expectations for our conduct with one another. It would be a powerful moment in any congregational meeting if someone nicely rebuked those whose words and attitudes don't reflect Jesus. We are God's people so it is worth teaching God's people how we ought to live with one another and how we ought to treat those called to the often tough job of church leadership.