Let Your Advancement Be Manifest
1, 2. Why should we all think in terms of making advancement?
1 Having carefully studied and applied all the lessons in this book, are you now ready to graduate from the Theocratic Ministry School? No, for this is a continuing program of ministerial training. There is no graduation when it comes to laying up godly knowledge and practicing what you learn. Rather, as a diligent student you can continue to make advancement that is observable to those acquainted with you.
2 The apostle Paul urged his young fellow worshiper Timothy to ‘continue applying himself to public reading, to exhortation, to teaching, to ponder over the things he had learned, to be absorbed in them, that his advancement might be manifest to all persons.’ (1 Tim. 4:13, 15) You, too, as a worshiper of the same God can make your advancement manifest to others. You can go on doing so without ever reaching the point where there is no more opportunity to progress. Jehovah is the source of all true knowledge, and that source is like an unfathomed well of refreshing water. Though we can never plumb its depths completely, we can go on deriving life and refreshment from it to time indefinite. (Rom. 11:33, 34; Isa. 55:8, 9) How, then, can your advancement become manifest to onlookers?
3, 4. How is advancement shown in the ministry school and at other congregation meetings?
3 Ways in which advancement is manifest. One way your advancement is evident is in your ministry school talks. You may feel that you have not made great advancement, but others may note your progress even more than you do. In this regard we are all like the child who wishes that it did not take so long to grow up, but when relatives visit, they exclaim: “My, how you have grown!” Think back to the very first talk you gave in the school. Do you remember it? Compare that with the talks you have given recently. You have learned much and gained valuable experience since then, have you not? Then keep on moving ahead.
4 It is not only in talks on the ministry school that advancement is manifest. It is also noted at congregation meetings. Do you attend meetings regularly? If you do, it shows that you are making progress, that you appreciate Jehovah’s provisions for our spiritual well-being. In addition, the quality of the comments given at meetings can give evidence of advancement. Those who give comments in their own words, instead of just reading them, show progress. Similarly, those who comment on the meaning and value in our lives of the information being studied show that they are developing discernment. Thus, regular attendance at meetings and the quality of one’s personal participation in them are deserving of notice when considering what advancement has been made.
5. What gives evidence of advancement in one’s field ministry?
5 And what of the advancement you have made in the field ministry? Remember how you felt when you approached that first door as you started out in the service? Compare that with your ability at the doors now. There has been improvement, has there not? And yet, you no doubt recognize that there is room for further improvement in effectiveness when preaching and teaching. Also, could you have a fuller share in all features of the service that are possible for you? The apostle Paul exhorted: “Just as you received the instruction from us on how you ought to walk and please God, just as you are in fact walking, . . . keep on doing it more fully.” (1 Thess. 4:1) As you keep on advancing, having a fuller share in Jehovah’s service, not only will your preaching and teaching become more effective, but your appreciation for the privilege of serving Jehovah will be deepened. Even when the response of householders is not good, you will still count it a privilege to have been used by Jehovah to bear his message to the people.
6. How could one’s conversation reflect spiritual growth?
6 One’s advancement is also manifest in conversation. Jesus said that ‘out of the heart’s abundance one’s mouth speaks.’ (Luke 6:45) When one’s conversation focuses to an increasing extent on Jehovah and his purposes, it is evident that there has been advancement. It shows that that person is growing in appreciation for Jehovah, that he is drawing closer to God. And the closer we draw to him, the more it will serve as a protection to us.
7. Where would advancement in applying Bible principles be evident?
7 Advancement is manifest in the application of Bible principles in daily life too. Is it not true that you find yourself doing things differently now than you did before you became acquainted with Jehovah’s Word? Likely this progress in doing things Jehovah’s way is reflected in your activity everywhere. It shows up in your home, in your dealings with other members of your household. It is reflected in how you shoulder your responsibilities. At your secular work you are more careful to apply Bible principles. All of this is an evidence that you have made a measure of progress. But here too we can all work for improvement, seeking to apply Bible principles more fully.
8, 9. If we make ourselves available to assist other publishers, what does this indicate, and what opportunities are there for this?
8 Make yourself available. Another way to make advancement manifest is to make ourselves available for Jehovah’s service to a greater extent. Psalm 110:3 states: “Your people will offer themselves willingly on the day of your military force.” Is that true of you? Could it be true of you to an even greater extent in the future?
9 You can show willingness by being available to help others, showing a genuine concern for them. Elders in the congregation may ask you to assist brothers or sisters in some way. These may need help in getting to meetings. Are you available to assist? You do not have to wait until someone asks for your assistance either. Why not volunteer, offering help to those who seem to need it? Is someone sick or hospitalized? It is not necessary to wait until the elders call this to our attention, but you can take the initiative and visit them or help out in some other way if you know of the need. Do you have a regular family Bible study in your home? Might it help a newly associated family that does not have such a study if you were to invite them to join your household for this study from time to time? Or if you go out in the field ministry alone, are there others who would go out if you offered to take them along? Why not plan in advance to invite another publisher to go with you? Yes, Jehovah’s servants are very busy these days, but our willingness to offer assistance to other brothers and sisters is a measure of our advancement. “Really, then, as long as we have time favorable for it, let us work what is good toward all, but especially toward those related to us in the faith.”—Gal. 6:10.
10, 11. In harmony with 1 Timothy 3:1, how can brothers make themselves available?
10 If you are a brother, you can make yourself available by working to measure up to the qualifications set out in God’s Word for those who take the lead in the congregation. First Timothy 3:1 commends those who reach out for overseership. This is not a matter of pushing oneself forward to be noticed, or competing with others. It is a matter of working to prove oneself a mature Christian, an “older man,” qualified and willing to serve in whatever capacity needed. And there is a need for many “older men” and “ministerial servants” in each congregation to take the lead in teaching, preaching and caring for congregation responsibilities.
11 Willing ones can enjoy many privileges in the congregation. They may be asked to be in demonstrations on the service meeting or to assist the elders or ministerial servants because they have demonstrated willingness and have shown themselves responsible in caring for whatever task was given them. When the need arises, their willingness and advancement may mark them as brothers who may be recommended as servants. Why are they appointed? Because they have shown willingness and have advanced, now measuring up to the qualifications that Jehovah has set down in his Word. Those appointed as servants are invited to the periodic Kingdom Ministry Schools for additional training in caring for congregation matters.
12, 13. What other privileges are open to many who are willing and able to make themselves available?
12 There are additional privileges that all may enjoy if they are willing and their situation permits. Could you offer yourself periodically as an auxiliary pioneer as tens of thousands of others have? Perhaps you could become a regular pioneer and join their growing numbers. Are your personal circumstances and your viewpoint toward Jehovah’s service such that you would even be willing to move to another place to serve, if that is what is needed? Many have done this as special pioneers, or by going to Gilead school and into the missionary work, or as publishers who have moved to serve where the need is greater. Some have taken up service in the various Bethel homes throughout the world. They have been greatly blessed because they have offered themselves willingly to Jehovah.
13 These are thrilling times in which to be alive. Jehovah is having a marvelous preaching and teaching work done in the earth in these “last days.” When, through his organization, Jehovah extends an invitation for some feature of the service, ask yourself: “Is that something that Jehovah is saying to me?” Examine your own circumstances, your own heart. Very likely you have already made a certain amount of advancement and do show a certain willingness, and that is fine. But are there other ways in which your advancement can be made manifest, by making yourself available to a fuller degree? As you grow in responsiveness to Jehovah’s direction and yield yourself to his guidance, you will be richly blessed. Jehovah’s willing servants all over the world can testify that this is the case. Indeed, on our advancement depends the greatest blessing of all, eternal life in God’s new world. That is why God’s Word urges: “Ponder over these things; be absorbed in them, that your advancement may be manifest to all persons. Pay constant attention to yourself and to your teaching. Stay by these things, for by doing this you will save both yourself and those who listen to you.”—1 Tim. 4:15, 16.