This is especially good advice for a rabbi. Case in point.: after a recent service a congregant approached me while I was speaking to a couple of other people. Interjecting herself into the conversation, she said “this is the greatest rabbi in the world!” I used my standard response to that kind of superlative, and said “well at least the greatest rabbi in the room.”
Rabbis have to be very careful not to believe their own press clippings. It would be even better not to ‘read’ them at all, but you can’t help it, because people can be so effusive with their praise. Following are some things that help me keep a sense of perspective. First, remember that people aren’t reacting to you as a person. It is you as the rabbi, and that creates a particular lens that people view you through. Secondly, keep a sense of humor, and let your family keep you humble! My kids never hesitate to point out a mistake I’ve made, and they laugh at it! And they also grade my sermons – generally I get a 2 or 3 out of 10 from them.
Last, and perhaps most importantly, remember this: you are never as good as they say you are, and you are never as bad as they say you are. That is a mantra that runs through my mind all of the time. At the end of the day you are generally your best judge. You know when you’ve done well, you know when you’ve put in the proper effort. Trust that, stay grounded, and stay grateful. The rest will take care of itself.