Spiritual leaders live in a fishbowl. They are first and foremost accountable to God for how they live. Then, they are accountable to the church in which they serve, and if they serve a wider audience than a local church they are to be exemplary.
Since all of us as believers are not perfect and fail from time to time it is easy to understand why leaders are often accused of failing in some way. Often, the failure is in the eye of the beholder. That’s why Paul cautions the church in 1st Timothy 5:19: “Do not entertain an accusation against an elder unless it is brought by two or three witnesses.”
If the accusation of sin proves to be valid then they are to be rebuked in public. These are tough words, but if not followed, unintended negative consequences will result. On the other hand, when leaders are faithful, Paul says in 1st Timothy 5:17 they are to be honored, especially those who preach and teach God’s Word. In fact, they also are to be provided for, according to verse 18: “The Scripture says, ‘Do not muzzle the ox while it is treading out the grain,’ and ‘the worker deserves his wages.’”
These responses by the people benefiting from the ministry of faithful leaders will encourage them to continue to be faithful in the future. It also will enable them to take care of themselves. I wonder if Timothy was not well provided for and therefore didn’t want to spend extra money on wine, thus getting sick from drinking unpurified water.
The bottom line in all of these instructions is to work hard at cultivating and maintaining healthy relationships, especially within the church.