The Way of Success
Delivered by the president of the Watch Tower Bible & Tract Society at the graduation exercises of the Watchtower Bible School of Gilead at 3 p.m. Sunday, July 30, 1950, at the Yankee Stadium, New York city, as the opening feature of the 8-day international assembly of Jehovah’s witnesses
“Then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success.”—Josh. 1:8.
1. What has Jehovah been conducting? And how is success measured?
JEHOVAH is conducting a Government school of success. There is nothing else on earth like it. Since it graduated a Master Instructor it has been in operation for nineteen hundred years. The wonderful course that it offers through him is an education and training for life through all eternity to come. You will not graduate from this school until you have proved yourself worthy of the right to everlasting life. Gaining this right is the measure of a person’s real success, and it is a credit to the School Instructors and a lasting joy and blessing to the successful graduate. Success is really to be measured in terms of living, and not in the fleeting superficial things of this world. The One who gained the highest type of life, immortality in the heavens, said: “What benefit will it be to a man if he gains the whole world but forfeits his soul? or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Matt. 16:26, NW) To what greater success could any man or woman attain than to gain endless life in happiness, that with it he might serve the God who bestows this prize? Next to that, what sweeter privilege could we have than to help someone else to gain such life with us? None. Then how to make such a success is the question, and Jehovah’s theocratic school of success supplies the answer.
2. How do we enter this school? How have worldly schools failed?
2 To enter this school we have to turn ourselves over fully to the great Conductor of the school, Jehovah God. We have to submit ourselves fully to his course of instruction and be willing to learn according to his way. That means we have to choose to serve God and to enter into an agreement with him to do his will, desiring his will to be done in everything. We want him to make out of us what he wants, and not what this world thinks we ought to be. After more than four thousand years of existence this world has proved itself a dismal failure, showing that it has no life of freedom, of tranquillity and of joy to offer. All the schools it has established till now have failed to teach its students how to gain such a life. And so the glowing plans that this world wants to map out for us according to its idea of success are doomed to end up in bitter disillusionment for us, in this modern electronic age the same as in all previous ages. The days of this world are numbered, and all those who are studying and aiming for success in this world will pass out with it in destruction.
3. What is Jehovah’s desire for those entering his school?
3 But Jehovah God wants his students to find a permanent place in the free new world which he creates and which will never pass away. That is his desire for us who enter his school. His beloved Son Jesus said: “Likewise it is not a desirable thing with my Father who is in heaven for one of these little ones to perish.” (Matt. 18:14, NW) He wants to have us attain to eternal life in the world to come, and he knows just the course of study, training and activity that we need for us to succeed. It is, therefore, essential that we obey his will as Teacher.
4. How was this rule of success emphasized in Joshua’s case?
4 This rule for success he emphasized long ago. The prophet Moses was soon to climb Mount Nebo for a look at the Promised Land of milk and honey and die and, before parting, he led the Israelites into a covenant of faithfulness toward Jehovah God and said: “Keep therefore the words of this covenant, and do them, that ye may prosper in all that ye do.” (Deut. 29:1-9) Through Moses Jehovah God gave the Book of the Law to the Israelites. He appointed Moses’ faithful servant Joshua to be his successor to lead the nation of Israel into the Promised Land. Joshua’s success as the one taking Moses’ place would be measured by his leading the people of God’s covenant triumphantly across the Jordan river and subduing and clearing out the enemies that then occupied the land. When Joshua comes back in the resurrection from the dead and you ask him what worked for his success, he will tell you it was obedience to these words of Jehovah God to him: “Only be thou strong and very courageous, that thou mayest observe to do according to all the law, which Moses my servant commanded thee: turn not from it to the right hand or to the left, that thou mayest prosper whithersoever thou goest. This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success.”—Josh. 1:7, 8.
5. According to those words to Joshua, in what does the way to success lie?
5 That settles it for us: The way to good success lies in loyal obedience to our divine Teacher, Jehovah. But to obey we have to familiarize ourselves with his will. He has given us his written Word, but we have to meditate on it day and night that we may make out what his will is for us, what work he wants us to do. That Word must not depart from our mouths, but we must keep it on our tongue and discuss it with others and must declare it to others for their guidance to success. Our loving Teacher is ever ready to help us to learn his will and know the truth. He watches our line of action in trying to do his will and is always there to guide us. Assuringly he says to us: “I will instruct thee and teach thee in the way which thou shalt go: I will counsel thee with mine eye upon thee. Be ye not as the horse, or as the mule, which have no understanding; whose trappings must be bit and bridle to hold them in, else they will not come near unto thee.” (Ps. 32:8, 9, AS) If we have better sense than a horse and a mule we will come willingly to our great Master Jehovah God and will look to him for instruction and teaching, and will always try to carry these out, knowing that his eye is upon us to watch how we do and correct us when we make mistakes. So he keeps us from going the wrong way, which ends up in failure. We could not have a more devoted teacher than he is, one who is sincerely and lovingly interested in the lasting welfare of his pupils and concerned for their ultimate success.
6. Copying what pupil’s example leads to sure success? Why so?
6 Jehovah’s beloved Son Jesus Christ was his greatest pupil, and if we copy his example we shall be certain to succeed as he did. Jesus was completely resigned to doing what his Father and Teacher showed to be his will and speaking what He taught him to say in this world. For doing his Father’s will to the limit, he was lifted up with his hands and feet nailed to a torture stake. Not a success in this world’s eyes, of course. But it proved the Devil a liar in saying no man could be completely faithful to God in this world, and it showed Jesus’ perfect integrity and obedience to God as Sovereign Ruler over all. Therefore Jesus said to the Jews: “When once you have lifted up the Son of man, then you will know that I am he, and that I do nothing of my own initiative, but just as the Father taught me I speak these things.” (John 8:28, NW) Jesus admitted to being taught by his God and Father, and for us to follow in his footsteps we must have the same Teacher as he had. Persons of this world pride themselves on having gone to a certain school or college and having had certain renowned ones as instructors. But we could not have a teacher grander and more competent than Jehovah God, nor any schooling higher than what he gives, for this leads to sure success.
7. Through whom must we enter this school, and why? After being taught, what must we do?
7 Because of Jesus’ faithfulness Jehovah sent him forth into this world to teach us. Hence we must become Jesus’ disciples or learners. We cannot gain entrance into Jehovah’s school of success unless through Jesus, for he said: “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6, NW) And so Jehovah’s entire school system has been organized with Jesus Christ as the main Teacher under Jehovah God himself. And as Jehovah taught Jesus that he might teach others, so we too, after ourselves being taught, must teach others. God’s bringing us into his school is for an unselfish purpose. It is not a school where mere theory is taught, but it is a most practical school. The purpose of our attending there is that we might learn to do what is in harmony with our Creator and may teach others for them also to win life from God through Jesus Christ.
STAYING BY THESE THINGS
8. Why do we all, including graduates of Gilead, have to stay in this school now and carry on our studies?
8 This world and its invisible ruler the Devil are opposed to God’s will. It is in the midst of this world that we must live just now, but, thank God, it is now only a “short period of time” before the Devil and his world-rulers of this darkness are bound and put out of the way. But during this remaining “short period of time” in which this world stands we have to live in it, and for this special reason we must pursue our studies and learning in the divine school. We cannot afford to drop out or play hooky. We cannot afford to be dismissed from it for improper conduct, rebelliousness against our Teachers, and unfaithfulness. In order to be crowned with success we must keep on with our studies of God’s Word and with our efforts to teach others also. Some of us may have been privileged as full-time ministers of God to attend the Watchtower Bible School of Gilead and graduate from it and receive a diploma of merit. That has been a great blessing to all such graduates, and it has put them far ahead in understanding God’s will and in being able to study his Word and to teach others. But that is not the end of study and schooling for even such graduates. No; it is the beginning of living under a greater responsibility before God. Graduates of Gilead as well as all the rest of us must continue on in the greater school of Jehovah God by Christ Jesus, which is open to all of us. In this divine institution we must all carry on our studies as long as we are in this wicked enemy world, that we may not be destroyed with it.
9. When will success be attributed to us, as Paul showed?
9 Success, which leads to everlasting life in the new world, will never be attributed to us until we have finished our career in this old world and have kept the divine approval upon us down to the finish. It was only at the finish that the apostle Paul could say for himself: “The due time for my releasing is imminent. I have fought the right fight, I have run the course to the finish, I have observed the faith. As for the rest, there is reserved for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will give me as a reward in that day.”—2 Tim. 4:6-8, NW.
10. Why, too, must diplomaed Gilead graduates press on with their studies afterward? Besides in personal study, how must we study?
10 Hence Gilead graduates must press on with their studies, and thus put to practical use the training they so graciously received through Jehovah’s organization. They must now push their personal studies, no longer under the pressure of the Gilead School schedule or because of facing examinations or for the sake of winning passing grades; no, but for the sake of meeting the demands made on them by the great teaching work which they have to carry on after leaving school. Graduating from such a school and being able to exhibit a diploma is not the final goal. Your succeeding in finally saving your own soul and helping in the salvation of others is the great objective of all the schooling Jehovah gives through Jesus Christ. All this plays its part in vindicating Jehovah as a Father who gives life to obedient children who are devotedly attached to him and who are a credit to him. To such he says: “My son, be wise, and make my heart glad, that I may answer him that reproacheth me.” (Prov. 27:11) It is not only by our personal study of the Bible and the publications of the Watch Tower Bible & Tract Society at our abodes that we carry forward our study in the heavenly Father’s Word, but by “not forsaking the gathering of ourselves together” but “encouraging one another, and all the more so as you behold the day drawing near”. (Heb. 10:25, NW) Our attending a public or private school with other pupils has its instructive benefits. So our gathering together with fellow Christians for study, prayer and field-service instruction has its invaluable benefits. If we get the largehearted spirit of our great Teachers, we just love to be together with persons who are studying and training with us in the same divine school.
11. What is it necessary for us to do after our study hours?
11 But as with Gilead graduates, we cannot just drop our studies as soon as we leave school or classroom. When we close our Bibles and our Bible-study books after a personal study, or when we leave a meeting-place and part from fellow Christians, we cannot forget the things we have learned. That would be a waste of time, money and mental effort. We must meditate on those things and apply them as we meet life’s daily problems and also tell these things out to others. We must put our acquired knowledge to work; as it is written: “Become doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves with false reasoning.” (Jas. 1:22, NW) Keep always in view the sublime purpose of your schooling under the tutelage of Jehovah God and Jesus Christ. That purpose is that, after our study hours, we may do God’s work to his glory and for the salvation of ourselves and of others. And this we are obliged to do in the midst of an unfriendly world. Remember, a great part of our own schooling comes through trying to teach others.
NOT FORSAKING MOTHER’S LAW
12, 13. Why do we need to be courageous, like Joshua? Whose backing is promised us, and under what conditions?
12 When Joshua marched across the Jordan river into hostile territory he needed great courage and unswerving devotion to Jehovah’s purpose. So with us now. We today march forward to the work for which our great Teacher has schooled us under Jesus Christ, and we do so in a world filled with foes. We know what we have been instructed to do, but we cannot successfully do it in our own strength and according to our natural understanding of things. We need the guidance, help and backing of the One who sends us out from his Theocratic school. He does not send us out and forget about us. He is keenly interested in how his pupils use the precious knowledge he has given them through his Theocratic organization under Christ. He has promised to be with them, but only if they carry out his commandments and act according to the way they have been taught. Naturally he would not be with those who prove disobedient and are not doers of his Word. The enemy world tries to compel us to act and live contrary to divine teaching, so that all our schooling may go for nothing, wasting God’s goodness. For that reason we need all the more to be fearless and to adhere strictly to what God has commanded and taught us. He does not guarantee us prosperity and good success in his service if we do otherwise.
13 But be sure of this one thing: He has not sent us forth on a vain mission, but he will grant us prosperity and good success if we carry out his Word; for his word never returns void and unfulfilled to him.—Isa. 55:11.
14. Through what does God give us instruction? Like him, why will it be with us as we go forth, and on what conditions?
14 To be successful for life eternal we have to listen to God’s instruction through his Theocratic organization and to abide by it even under circumstances of great stress. Speaking to his pupils as children, God says: “My son, hear the instruction of thy father, and forsake not the law [or, teaching] of thy mother.” The heavenly Father here likens his organization for teaching his children to a woman, a mother who is very devoted to her husband and to their children. (Prov. 1:8, AS, margin) The heavenly Father wants us to have respect for his educational organization, and so he says: “My son, keep thy father’s commandment, and forsake not the law of thy mother: for the commandment is a lamp; and the law is light; and reproofs of instruction are the way of life.” (Prov. 6:20, 23) If we keep our Father’s instruction and commandment, not only will he be with us, but his “woman”, our “mother”, will also be with us. Every normal woman is attached to her children. Jehovah, who made woman, asks: “Can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb? yea, they may forget, yet will I not forget thee.” (Isa. 49:15) God’s woman, or Theocratic organization, is like him. She never forgets her children, those whom she teaches and brings forth as witnesses and representatives of her husband, the Most High God. We should show our love for her by not forsaking the law of our mother. It would be foolish to give up her law and treat it with contempt. “A wise son maketh a glad father: but a foolish man despiseth his mother.”—Prov. 15:20.
15. Why is one who thinks he can get along without the organization foolish? Of what disrespect and transgression is he guilty?
15 A person who thinks he can get along without God’s organization and can study the Bible on his own and can do God’s work independently as he thinks best apart from all organization is very foolish. He lacks all understanding of how God has dealt with his servants in times past. We must not forget that God instructs us through his organization, his woman, our mother. He respects his woman and appreciates the work that she does in behalf of His sons and daughters. So he does not like it when any professed Christian disrespects the “mother” organization. To disrespect her means to disrespect Jesus Christ, for God has made this beloved Son the head of the Theocratic organization. He who robs the organization of the respect due this symbolic mother is working to destroy the organization, not build it up. He is guilty of transgressing against her divine husband, Jehovah our heavenly Father. What you do against her you do against him. “Whoso robbeth his father or his mother, and saith, It is no transgression; the same is the companion of a destroyer.” And the great destroyer is Satan the Devil. (Prov. 28:24) Let us, then, not rob and destroy, but show love and respect for our mother by never forsaking her law and teaching as the Devil did. Let us ever be obedient to her, doing so as to Jehovah, her Husband and Head.
16. In what way is she a woman worthy to be our mother?
16 She is a worthy woman. She is no adulteress or fornicator with the Devil, and we are not illegitimate children when we confess her motherhood. She is Theocratically subject to her Husband, the Most High God. We can therefore trust her to lead us in ways pleasing to Jehovah the Giver of everlasting life. Her loving concern is for His children, and she looks well to that, using all her organizational means and powers for their welfare. The thirty-first chapter of Proverbs likens her to a virtuous woman. The description it gives of such a woman inspires confidence in the organization and helps us to love and appreciate it.
17. To whom was the description of her given? In general what does it show?
17 The description was given to King Lemuel, whose name means “belonging to God” or “sacred to God”. The virtuous woman was described to him by his own mother. As mother to a king, she occupies the relation of a queen to her great Husband, Jehovah the King of eternity, the Father of the “kings of the earth”. So she can rear and instruct kings sacred to God. By her description she shows what we ought to look for in His Theocratic woman or organization. “A prudent wife is from Jehovah,” and the Theocratic woman or organization is His creation and was made for our motherhood.—Prov. 19:14, AS.
18. Against what does she warn them? And how does she feed them?
18 Showing loyalty to her Husband, she warns her children against overindulging in intoxicants or drinks which stupefy and benumb our powers and senses. Why? Lest her children be overcome and deprived of a sound mind and forget the law of God. (Lev. 10:8-11) She builds up the stature and strength of her sons and daughters by feeding them with food. It does not matter that she at times has to import the food from afar, like merchants’ ships coming from distant ports. So, to feed her children in outlying territories or distant lands, the Watch Tower Society imitates her by bringing workers from distant points to the Bible School of Gilead and sends these missionaries back or sends them to other distant points that by these she may feed spiritual nourishment to all her children. All those who serve her, whether they be directly her children or not, she feeds and strengthens for service, for, it is written, she gives “a portion to her maidens”. (Prov. 31:15) She rises early while it is yet dark in order to have food ready on time for all her household.
19. How does she clothe them?
19 Besides feeding, she also sees to the clothing of her children. She works up materials with which to clothe them, that they may be presentable with a godly, Christian identification of which they need never be ashamed. She clothes them with the identity of witnesses of her Husband, Jehovah. So “she is not afraid of the snow for her household”, for she knows God’s children by her are well clothed to bear the cold hatred of this world. She is always providing for their well-being in the future, looking ahead to what they will need in time to come, that she may “rejoice in time to come” at having met the needs.
20. How does she look to the ways of her household?
20 She “looketh well to the ways of her household”. Hence it is an orderly, well-conducted, industrious and godly household, of which it is a blessing to be a member. In this behalf it may be necessary sometimes for her to use the rod and administer a reproof to one or all her children. But by letting us go our own way it would never work to our eventual success or bring honor to her organizational methods. She knows that “the rod and reproof give wisdom: but a child left to himself bringeth his mother to shame”. (Prov. 29:15) She does not want to be ashamed of how she brought up God’s children and she does not want us to be a grief and reproach to him. At the same time “she openeth her mouth with wisdom; and in her tongue is the law of kindness”. (Prov. 31:26) Thus by reproof and by kindly counsel she gives wise teaching and maintains God’s law.
21. What makes her wise and praiseworthy? How does she teach love?
21 In organizational operation and structure the world may not think she is beautiful of feature or graceful and it makes fun of her primitive simplicity characteristic of apostolic days. Ah, but she fears Jehovah, and that is what makes her wise and virtuous and wins her lasting praise from Him. She has a big love, stretching out her hand to the poor and reaching forth her hand to the needy; and so she instills in her children generosity and neighbor love. She wants them to share with others the spiritual blessings from their heavenly Father, imparting to the poor and needy the food of his Kingdom truth and clothing them with garments to identify them with his King.—Prov. 31:30, 20.
VISIBLE REPRESENTATIVES LIKE HER
22. Who is our spiritual mother, Gilead, the Watch Tower Society? Why? And in what children is she interested?
22 In this world it is customary to speak of a high school, college or university from which a person graduates by the heathen expression “alma mater” (fostering mother). But the Watchtower Bible School of Gilead is not the great mother organization of the Gilead graduates. The Watch Tower Bible & Tract Society is not the great mother organization of Jehovah’s witnesses who have received the Kingdom truth through it and who cooperate with it world-wide, using it as their legal and business servant and advisory governing body. No; as Jehovah’s witnesses we represent something greater than these minor visible organizations. The great “mother” is Jehovah’s universal organization, which he created and of which he is the faithful Husband. (Isa. 54:5; Gal. 4:26) By her he brings forth his beloved children for his purpose. By her he gives us law and instruction, provides for us, guides us and looks out for our welfare with a view to our everlasting life. In her we find fulfilled all the traits of a virtuous woman so lovelily described to King Lemuel. Just now, when God’s kingdom is the paramount issue, his “woman” is chiefly concerned with bringing forth successfully to kingship with Jesus Christ in heaven the remnant of his royal “little flock”. Yet she is interested also in the many, many “other sheep” who will eventually become her earthly children in God’s image and likeness. Her heart is big enough to hold a love now for them all and to gather all these “other sheep” to her warm, loving bosom.—Luke 12:32; John 10:16.
23. Yet what organizations on earth manifest her traits? Why?
23 However, what we see exemplified in God’s woman, his heavenly universal organization, we should look to see in his visible organization. Why? Because his higher, greater universal organization uses it as her earthly instrument. That is why we do see those motherly traits, those traits and acts of a virtuous woman, in the Watchtower Bible School of Gilead and in the Watch Tower Bible & Tract Society, because these profess to represent and serve God’s woman. We thank God for providing and using them. So we stand up respectfully and bless his faithful organization, his queenly “woman” in heaven which makes all these loving provisions for us as children of God.—Prov. 31:28.
24. Hence what is the way of success? So keep in touch with what?
24 If we have an appreciation of all these truths, what shall we say is the way of success? All the examples and the teachings of the Word of God agree that it is the way marked by faithful, loving obedience to God and to the commandments he issues through his Theocratic organization. Hence keep in touch with the central organization, God’s Theocratic “woman”. Keep in tune with it by accepting the Theocratic organization rules and instructions which God issues to us through it. Never forsake these, but be teachable, as trustful children. Hold fast to the Bible.
25. Where should we serve God? For what length of time, and how?
25 Serve God where he places you. Remember that the great Director of the organization knows his tools or instruments. He knows which to use and where and how to use it. So lend yourself to his use when he chooses you. His choice of you is never accidental and unpremeditated. Go to the territory or position to which he designates you. Show your fitness for the place to which you are thus assigned. Work in unity with the organization as a whole. Draw all the good out of whatever reproofs are administered to you for your proper conduct. Carry out instructions with all respect for the great “mother” organization. And never quit your assigned work of your own accord. Build up your ability and competence for the work by staying with it and familiarizing yourself with it more and more. Take to heart the apostle’s organizational instruction to the young overseer Timothy: “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, NW.
26. What will you thus prove yourself, and in what will you have a part?
26 In this way you will prove yourself a worthy child of God by his “woman”. You will show what he can make of you by his instruction through his “woman”. Thus you will have a part with Jesus Christ in vindicating Jehovah’s rightful sovereignty over all intelligent creatures who live in the universe. That is what spells the highest success for you for all life to come.
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Main Gilead Building
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