Don’t seek or expect praise or pity from anyone.
The key to understanding and applying this maxim in one’s life is to avoid basing our self worth on what others think. Christians base our worth and dignity upon the knowledge that we are made in the image and likeness of God. Priests can be especially vulnerable to the temptation of looking for validation from others. We love it when people tell us that our homily was good and think too much about that one critical letter we received last week. I often think of Brother Roland Driscoll who did me the favor early in my priesthood of sharing with me each week how much he enjoyed my homily, especially the end.
A similar temptation is for us to seek the pity of others. Both praise and pity ultimately are about our own egos. Praise, in the positive sense, and pity in the negative. I think of how many times I have lamented how busy I am, or the amount of work that has to be done. Wanting others to feel sorry for me is ultimately about seeking attention.
Rather than seeking praise or pity from others, Christians might consider seeking first to please God and to further his kingdom, remembering we are made in his image.