Joel Sarli was Associate Secretary of the General Conference Ministerial Association and the second editor of Elder’s Digest when this article was written.

I t is quite easy to be entangled in so many activities in the congregation and forgetting that a successful elder needs to keep himself in good relationship with the Lord.

This may be easier said than done for you, the elder, just because you are about the Lord's work does not automatically mean that you are going to keep a spiritual freshness. And the solution is not as easy as the deodorant commercial where a brand swap will keep you fresh all day. You can't just swap a few Scripture verses to heighten your spiritual freshness. Consider and work on the following as you reach for spiritual well-being.

Spiritual failure

Economical failure means a situation where bills and debts greatly exceed your true ability to pay. It is being so far behind with absolutely no way of catching up. It may even include someone else taking over control of your income. It may mean a drastic change in lifestyle. Synonymous terms include financial failure, insolvency, defaulting, economic death, or financial disaster. Can the same happen spiritually? Yes! You can find yourself in a state of spiritual insolvency. It happens. Here are some ways to avoid finding yourself spiritually overdrawn.


Devotion is not the same as preparation for a ministerial duty, like preaching or teaching. This is preparation for you. A few moments with God make your spirit ready for the battles ahead. It is a regular time of listening to Cod through Scripture and prayer. Out of your spiritual reserve from personal devotion you will find the resources to minister because time alone with God builds your spirit to be more like Jesus. Your quiet time with God will help you maintain perspective in all the demands of life. You will find God's place in all that you do.

"Sometimes I shut the door on all the world And go alone to that most secret place Where there is only God Just God and I! Then Together we go over subtle acts, Mistakes, and small hypocrisies of mine. I strip myself from shams, from shackles free, And stand aghast at my duplicity." Author Unknown

This is something that happened only in those quiet places.


There are two types of rest physical and emotional. Both feed your spiritual well-being. Physically, to be in your spiritual best you must have adequate rest. Sleep allows your body time to rebuild and refresh. E. G. White indicates about seven to seven and one-half hours sleep is optimal to maintain your physical integrity.

The other type of rest is time away. Mark 6:31 tells of Jesus' admonition to come away for a time of rest. Make time to get away. The real ticking time bomb in the church or in a home is an explosive father/elder. It is not a cultural, denominational, or theological issue but the person of a leader crashing.

Time away from the "press of the crowd" will defuse this time bomb. Move away from a schedule of side calls, funerals, sermon preparation, counseling, and committee meetings to a time of spiritual and emotional rest. You may find two hours during the week, one day away per month, and three to five days sometime during the year to listen to God, to reflect, and to anticipate your tomorrow.


This may be difficult for elders. Strongly consider being accountable to someone. Developing accountability relationships will build you up, encourage you, and nurture your spiritual well-being. Find two or three men who will help you, and you them. Through prayer and counsel, decide areas of your life in which you want to be held accountable. Together you help each other develop spiritual well-being and ultimately total well-being. You may choose to be accountable in such ways as time with spouse, time with children, personal devotion, or exercise. Together you pray, seek God's answer, and decide to move.

Your spiritual well-being impacts your social, mental, and physical well-being. When you are at your best spiritually, you feel better physically and mentally, and you relate better to members of the congregation when your spiritual bank account has a surplus.

Adapted from and an article by Tommy Yessick , consultant, Pastor-Staff Leadership Department, Life Way Christian Resources, Nashville, Tennessee.

Joel Sarli was Associate Secretary of the General Conference Ministerial Association and the second editor of Elder’s Digest when this article was written.