There are five personal devils the modern preacher must fight: indolence, snobbery, emotional instability, sycophancy, familiarity. “Get thee behind me, Satan” has its present-day counterpart. Many a minister has felt that the devil has not only his street number but a key to his parsonage as well. The temptations themselves are not new, of course, but the clergy man’s position and responsibilities make him susceptible in ways often quite unfamiliar to the layman. Awareness of these major temptations may provide laymen with greater understanding of, even sympathy for, their pastor. Let us look at them.
1. Indolence. The lazy preacher is not very common. There is something about a minister’s high calling which keeps him quickened and motivated. Many pastors, indeed, do not know the word “restraint,” and provide poor risks for insurance companies. A high sense of urgency, inner compulsions which laymen seldom know, and a spirit of dedication drive the average pastor on. Every minister knows, however, that without a time clock to punch and without boss and counselors to exact from him his total capacity, he can become lazy.
The slothful minister becomes a master of alibi and evasion. Under the guise of, “Oh, I pride myself on being an administrator,” he likes to set up his program so that the other fellow does the legwork. Not willing to work too hard, he dodges responsibilities rightfully his with the protest, “Why, my program is overloaded right now.” He may even cry, “Hasn’t a preacher a right to be human?”—then putter around the house while others are sweating out the day.
2. Snobbery. Instead of being a man of prayer, he may be a prima donna. Snobbery is the second devil a preacher must fight with all his might. Being much ...1
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