The one who wants to know whether his preaching and Imamat (of the congregational prayer) consist of truth and sincerity or not, may undertake the following test:
For example, he should find out why does he like and desire to be the leader of the congregational prayer? Is it because being the leader of the congregational prayer is a respectable job and brings respect, publicity, and distinction for the leader? Or is it because of Allah's pleasure, and for the obedience of His commands? In this manner he should examine himself that whether knowing that more people are participating in the congregational prayer headed by him, or increase in the number of worshipers accompanying him, or knowing that his followers consist of VIPs, scholars, and wealthy people, are influential in his liking and desire of being the congregational leader?
That is, under these circumstances and situations does he prefer and enjoy more to be the leader of the congregational prayer, as compared to the conditions whereby very few people are aware of his Imamat, very few worshipers offer prayer behind him, or the worshipers accompanying him are not scholars and great personalities rather are ordinary people? If such was the case, than he should know that his desire to be the leader of the congregational prayer is altogether for the sake of fame and hypocrisy or at least is contaminated with these things.
And if Satan and the imperious self, whispers in your heart in justifying the correctness of your above-mentioned acts misguiding you in this manner, that your liking for increase in the number of worshipers, or their being from scholars and nobles are because of the reason that such congregational prayer possesses more reward as well is a manifestation of religious grandeur, which as a result would earn more divine pleasure. One should not be cheated so easily with this justification, instead should conduct another self-examination.
For example, in order to test whether his aim is more reward or not, he should imagine that suppose there are two congregational prayers, one only with two worshipers but with certain reasons with more reward, and the other one with a huge number of worshipers but due to certain reasons with less reward. Which one would he like more, i.e., to lead, the one which has a huge crowd but with less reward, or the one with only two worshipers but more reward?
And in order to test his aim for strengthening the religious grandeur, he should imagine, that if instead of himself, suppose a certain person's leading the congregational prayer would result in more religious grandeur, especially, if he himself joins that congregational prayer as a follower under his leadership, then even in that situation, would he still prefer for himself to be the leader of that congregational prayer? Or would he prefer to hand over the leadership to him, and would join the prayer as a follower?
If Satan and the imperious self further trick you that your preference for being the leader of congregational prayer over others under the above circumstances is for the reason that this worship, i.e., strengthening religious grandeur, are the type of worships, in which the believers must compete with each other, and therefore, you too with this intention prefer your being the leader of the congregational prayer over others. Again one should not be tricked easily rather must undertake another self-examination, e.g., he should imagine that if his offering prayer under a certain leader of congregational prayer would result in greater religious grandeur as compared to others following him as a leader of the congregational prayer than which one would he prefer, being a leader, or the follower?
Of course, having sincerity in such type of affairs is indeed very difficult and complex and its true recognition requires hair-splitting efforts, and it is because of this reason that very often its true identification might remain hidden from someone for prolonged periods, and then because of a certain happening or encounter, the reality becomes manifested. Following is an example:
It has been reported about a certain great religious scholar, that for thirty years he offered the prayer in the first row behind the congregational leader. After thirty years, one day it happened that he found himself standing in the second row of the prayer. Suddenly this feeling prevailed upon him, that today others worshipers will notice him standing in the second row, which made him uncomfortable and awkward. And right at this juncture he discovered, that his thirty years efforts and endeavours for presenting him in the first row of the congregational prayers, were not free from hypocrisy and egotism, and because of this reason he repeated his prayers of thirty years, offering them as make up prayers (Qadha).
A little bit of pondering at the above story of this combatant scholar, who preferred for himself to be a follower instead of leader and endeavoured to be present in the first row of the congregational prayer for thirty long years, and ultimately having encountered with this contradiction had repeated his prayers of thirty years, indicates that the difference between the sincerity and egotism is so fine and thin, as well as proves that in order to achieve it, how hard the predecessors have tried.
Whatever has been said regarding the sincerity and truth in leadership is also true for the preacher and preaching which are also susceptible to severe injuries. Are not the injuries of tongue and speech also the injuries of preacher and preaching; are not the injuries of tongue and speech so dangerous, and abstinence from them so difficult, that some of the elders, for the sake of abstinence from it, altogether decided to remain silent, while some of the wise ones from this consideration preferred silence superior than the speech even though speech is undoubtedly superior than silence, and a lot of goodness and benevolence are originated and propagated as a result of speech.