Contemporary English Version (CEV)
Praise can be intoxicating. It can alter messages -- leaders will begin to shape their message so that they will hear the roar of the crowd, even if the message isn't quite what they would have said if they were going to say what they truly felt. You see this running rampant during political season (which feels like a full-time season any more) -- politicians will say whatever they feel the crowd wants to hear, depending on the particular crowd they are talking to. They tailor the message to work up enthusiasm, although once they are actually in charge their campaign promises go out the window. They simply wanted praise and adulation.
Religious leaders are no different. They like to be praised, and it's easier to deal with praise rather than to deliver a difficult message that might make people unhappy. No one will mind if you cut out the difficult and confrontational parts of the message, right? Everyone should just be happy!
But God challenges us. He confronts us with our sin -- not to be cruel, but rather to recognize our need for a Savior and accept the grace that is freely offered. We need leaders to confront and challenge us, even if our stubborn and proud hearts don't want to face the truth. We need people to hold up mirrors and show us the death that is within us so that we can accept the life that is offered to us. If the leaders fail to do so by seeking the easy way out, the people may not know the truth of the Gospel. If we don't know the depths to which we sink on our own, we may never rise to the heights to which God offers to carry us.