Then said Jesus to the crowds and to his disciples,
“The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses’ seat;
so practice and observe whatever they tell you, but not what they do; for they preach, but do not practice.
They bind heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on men’s shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with their finger.
He who is greatest among you shall be your servant;
whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.
Matt 23: 1-4, 11-12
We (I?) usually read this passage as an admonition of those who are our leaders, in church, government, work. And that’s certainly true. But we also need to be aware of the expectations we place on others in the smaller spheres of our lives: family, friends, peers at work. To be unreasonable in our expectations places a heavy burden on others and can strain relationships, even to breaking point.
Sometimes, people with high expectations do perform to a high level themselves. But we need to observe: are they endowed with exceptional skills in some area, are they over-burdening themselves, are they happy and healthy working at such a level? It would be better to encourage them to take a step back, rather than trying to emulate their feats.
God grant us the grace to be reasonable in our expectations, of others and of ourselves. Help us to get the balance somewhere close to right in our lives.