Quoting from Pastor David H. Petersen's article titled "Renewal" in the Michaelmas 2011 Gottesdienst:
Private confession and absolution may be optional for the laity, but it is certainly not optional for the clergy. No one can teach the Small Catechism and abstain from this gift without being a hypocrite, any more than he can teach the Small Catechism and abstain from the Lord's Supper or from having his children baptized. But beyond the obvious goodness of being absolved, the preacher learns something of humility and sorrow in confession. He remembers what it is to be on the other side, to be at someone else's mercy, to need someone else to say the words, to not have the answers and to depend on someone else. Preachers who forget this, and we are all prone to forgetting this, preach in generalities.Our preachers also need to hear confession. Hearing confession is more humbling than making confession. It changes the character of the pastoral relationship. It deepens it. God makes us pastors by the call and ordination. But nothing "makes" us, in our minds, the pastor of an individual like this most intimate and pastoral relationship. It changes the way we think about our people. Parishioners might be surprised by this: no father confessor hearing the sins of his people becomes disgusted or angry. I repeat: the penitent's sins do not disgust or anger the confessor. Rather, hearing confession makes pastors sympathetic. It puts the preacher on the penitent's side.Whether the people come or not, the pastor should have regularly scheduled, published times for confession. Even if the people don't come, the pastor is forced to contemplate his office and to pray for the people. And eventually, they will come.
photo credit: loafingcoot