Abusive leadership in church is often overlooked and not discussed and the consequences can be detrimental to the sheep once it goes undetected. The degree of abusiveness depends on the personality of the leader and central to this, his/her understanding on God's unconditional love for all.
A lot of times, this happens because of lack of knowledge. However, lack of knowledge on this can keep us in captivity and also indirectly sanction and propagate this unhealthy leadership style to others.
As leaders, we may be unaware of our abusive nature eventho we have good intentions. This is a question we have to honestly answer before God if we are in leadership.
This article Characteristics of Abusive Churches by Ronald Enroth perhaps can give us insight on what abusive leadership is about. It is not about knocking leadership, but to make us aware that certain actions are a no, no in leadership. If good intentions unintentionally curb the growth of a young believer and yet we are not conscious about it, (as the sheep you lead do not dare to voice out your blind spot for fear of being further abused) then it is the greatest tragedy in leadership.
Christ has given us freedom, so we have no right as leaders to enslave or control others but to love as Christ love so that we ursher others into the work of ministry....please read the scriptures below as a starter to the link (I take the liberty of this wordwe d 'circumcision' be any rules/ideas that we enslave others)
Freedom in Christ 1 So Christ has truly set us free. Now make sure that you stay free, and don’t get tied up again in slavery to the law.
2 Listen! I, Paul, tell you this: If you are counting on circumcision to make you right with God, then Christ will be of no benefit to you. 3 I’ll say it again. If you are trying to find favor with God by being circumcised, you must obey every regulation in the whole law of Moses.
4 For if you are trying to make yourselves right with God by keeping the law, you have been cut off from Christ! You have fallen away from God’s grace.
5 But we who live by the Spirit eagerly wait to receive by faith the righteousness God has promised to us. 6 For when we place our faith in Christ Jesus, there is no benefit in being circumcised or being uncircumcised. What is important is faith expressing itself in love.
7 You were running the race so well. Who has held you back from following the truth? 8 It certainly isn’t God, for he is the one who called you to freedom. 9 This false teaching is like a little yeast that spreads through the whole batch of dough! 10 I am trusting the Lord to keep you from believing false teachings. God will judge that person, whoever he is, who has been confusing you.
11 Dear brothers and sisters,[a] if I were still preaching that you must be circumcised—as some say I do—why am I still being persecuted? If I were no longer preaching salvation through the cross of Christ, no one would be offended. 12 I just wish that those troublemakers who want to mutilate you by circumcision would mutilate themselves.[b]
13 For you have been called to live in freedom, my brothers and sisters. But don’t use your freedom to satisfy your sinful nature. Instead, use your freedom to serve one another in love.
14 For the whole law can be summed up in this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”[c] 15 But if you are always biting and devouring one another, watch out! Beware of destroying one another.
As we read this article in the link, be open to let the Holy Spirit search and set us free.