It seems as if in societies where clergy are, more or less, socially and economically equal with the laity, the more likely the clergy and laity are on good terms. I'm comparing what I experience in my everyday life in the US to a study I'm reading about in the book Culture of Devotion. In the book, the clergy (who are more well-to-do) are viewed as out-of-touch by the poorer laity. It's because of this that they ask the priests to bless things and say masses for loved ones, but they may or may not take his spiritual advice (in their case, advice about devotion to folk saints).
This all got me to thinking about personal limits between priests (or even a spiritual father) and the parishioners. Should they be able to outline your entire Orthodox Christian life for you, down to what images you may or may not display, forms of prayer ropes you may or may not use, forms of entertainment you may or may not take part in (books, movies, whatever)?
Is there a definite cross-over into 'guru' territory or is it more nuanced than that?
It also kind of depends on your mentality for following the spiritual father. Some have the mindset that you have to be blindly obedient, others like to think through decisions, but follow the directive of the spiritual father in good faith of their love for you and good will/intentions.
I think this issue is part of the discussion. A spiritual father can say anything to you, it all depends on what YOU think the spiritual father is.
Of course there are guru-isms that enter into it, but those are many and varied. I can look up some stuff for you if interested...let me know - I have resources on both questions.