As a Pastor I was convicted by these wise words from the eighteenth century American Presbyterian minister Samuel Miller.
Miller writes in his well-known Thoughts on Public Prayer,
“How can a pastor preach intelligently and appropriately to his people, without knowing their state? And how is he to know their real state but by more or less intercourse with them in private…Every time that the pastor goes forth from his study to visit the families of his flock, it ought to be performed for the double purpose of conferring spiritual benefit on them, and receiving a benefit himself. If, for the attainment of the former purpose, he carry the gospel with affection and tenderness on his lips wherever he goes, his own knowledge of the real condition and wants of his people will be greatly enlarged, and his heart warmed with increasing love to the Saviour, and love and zeal for the salvation of souls, and the enlargement of that kingdom which is not meat and drink, but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.
O, that ministers could be persuaded to realize that the best part of their preparation for the pulpit, that which is best adapted to impart the richest instructiveness, and the most touching unction to all its teachings, is, not to seclude themselves perpetually their studies – not to be for ever trimming the midnight lamp; but to go forth and put themselves often in contact with the cavils and the objections of the enemies of the gospel, as well as with the anxieties, the conflicts, the consolations, the joys, and the triumphs of Christian believers.”