We pastors depend entirely upon the Spirit of God to produce actual effect from the gospel, and at this effect we must always aim. We do not stand up in our pulpits to display our skill in spiritual sword play, but we come to actual fighting: our object is to drive the sword of the Spirit through men’s hearts.
In order to effectively drive the sword of the Spirit through men’s hearts we must be well-trained in spiritual warfare. That training takes place in the secret chamber alone with God. Eugene Peterson gives this warning to pastors—
Three pastoral acts—praying, reading Scripture and giving spiritual direction—are so basic, so critical, that they determine the shape of everything else in ministry. Besides being basic, these three acts are quiet and done mostly out of the spotlight of public ministry. Because they do not call attention to themselves, they are so often neglected. …Because almost never does anyone notice whether we do these things or not, and only occasionally does someone ask if we do them, these real acts of ministry suffer widespread neglect.
You cannot give to others what you do not possess yourself!
Pastor, get alone with God. Everyday. Sharpen your sword through private prayer and personal devotion. Everyday!