In Matthew 23, Jesus talks about what kind of leaders the Pharisees are.
2 “The teachers of religious law and the Pharisees are the official interpreters of the law of Moses.3 So practice and obey whatever they tell you, but don’t follow their example. For they don’t practice what they teach. 4 They crush people with unbearable religious demands and never lift a finger to ease the burden.
(Matthew 23.2 to 4, NLT)
They say the right things but don’t do the right things. One of the biggest traps ministers fall into is talking a good game, but not living it.
There are two problems with that.
Firstly, people instinctively copy what you do not what you say. You might preach the most amazing sermon on prayer, three points all beginning with the same letter, beautiful illustrations, powerfully taught with Greek and Hebrew. But your people will not pray unless you pray.
Hypocritical leaders produce hypocritical followers.
The second problem is unless you do it, you have no idea how hard it is. If you preach on fasting seven days and don’t do it, then you have no idea how hard it is, so you then over burden your people. You have no empathy to them, you don’t get their battles because they are not your battles.
When I hear an overly harsh preacher I know he is not living it. If he was working out his salvation with fear and trembling, he would be gentle and kind with people, because their battles would be his too.
When a preacher is making impossible demands it’s because he is doing nothing. When a preacher never gives you genuine advice to make your burden lighter it’s because he is not living what he preaches.
We must not be these leaders who burden people and crush them, we must feed them, so we must be authentic and live what we preach and be the same in and out the pulpit.