I ending up bringing up an interesting tidbit with the Bible class this past Sunday. In the course of conversation (I cannot remember exactly how) preaching came up - wait, I do remember. Saul was paranoid and wicked and rebellious, so he expected David (post the defeat of Goliath) to be tricksy and false and rebellious. And from there preaching came up.
I noted that to most preachers, hearing the tales of the Fire-and-Brimstone anti-sex preacher getting caught in an affair or the strong "anti-gay" preacher being caught in "that" park in "that" side of town was never really surprising. This is because, well, most of the time when a preacher is attacking a hobby horse its because he's been riding that hobby horse. There is a certain theological truth to the adage "he that hath smelt it, hath dealt it."
Here's phase one of advice - Pastors - get off the hobby horses of the Law. If you think every sermon has to deal with topic X... well, your own struggles with X are showing! Just stick to the lectionary and deal with all the points of the Law.
But this also brings up another truth. Pastors are constantly under attack. Satan and their flesh hound them -- there is nothing Satan loves more than a pastor who falls off the wagon. And perhaps, this should temper our approach.
If you are a parishioner - remember, your pastor is a sinful human being who suffers temptations, just as you. Take opportunities yourself to build him up and encourage him - especially in the holidays when the number of services and social obligation triples.
If you are a pastor looking at other pastors - remember, those foibles, those problems, even those errors. That's how Satan is attacking them. That works-righteous guy -- he's tortured with guilt and denial. That growthy guy -- utter fear of failure and disdain. That cold and insular guy -- he's been burned and jaded. Even the guy who jokes all the time - sadness and despair.
They're not enemies to be defeated, or guys to be gotten rid of so the Church or Synod can be "fixed". They are sinful men who need care, who need Christ Jesus and forgiveness. Patience and love.
Huh - patience and love. Almost an Advent theme.