Thanks to Leslie, a busy Methodist pastor, who commented (to my last post), that in his best experiences, the weekly pastoral work does feed sermon preparation. Rather than preaching being a 'set piece' occupying hours in a separate box it belongs within the hurly-burly of pastoral life though, as I wrote last time, the preacher does need some quiet time!
One further point arose in class discussion about preachers who so concentrate on preaching that they spend most of each week locked away in their offices. This is a more difficult point and we were sensitive raising it. Is it possible for average preachers to shelter behind the need to produce average sermons by spending vast numbers of hours, and then escape pastoral responsibilities of serving and loving their people? Arguing that nothing is more important than preaching (Acts 6:2 is sometimes quoted), oodles of hours on sermon preparation are justified and...guess what.... pastoring is avoided! Can it even be that sermon preparation is purposely elevated to escape the time-consuming difficult task of giving pastoral care?
This opens up the whole issue of balancing pastoral priorities, doesn't it? I really believe in preaching but it is part of a bigger package isn't it?