“A Right Kind of Minister”
1. How does one become and prove to be a minister of Jehovah?
THE term minister (Greek: diákonos) as used in the Greek Scriptures means, literally, a servant. (1 Tim. 4:6, NW) It here refers to one who is a public servant of Jehovah, and is ordained by him, after having first taken the step of dedicating himself by a solemn agreement to do the will of God. Such a minister, in order to prove worthy of the name and retain divine favor, will faithfully strive to carry out whatever commands and commissions are laid upon him by the “superior authorities.” Such a minister will also, of necessity, prove to be a close footstep follower of Jesus Christ, the foremost minister of God, and, like him, will recognize the prior obligation to be a preacher of the good news of Jehovah’s established kingdom by Christ. Thus, like Jesus, he will prove to be one of Jehovah’s witnesses, witnessing to the truth.—Rom. 13:1; John 18:37, NW; Isa. 43:10, AS.
2. Can a servant or slave be given responsibility in Jehovah’s service?
2 But though the essential meaning attached to the term minister is that of a servant, or even that of a slave, yet that does not deny the possibility of such a servant’s being placed in a position of considerable responsibility, involving the oversight and care of others. The scriptures at Matthew 24:45-47, quoted at the close of the previous article, are a good example of this, together with what Jesus said in the parable that closely followed.—See Matthew 25:21, 23, NW.
3. What early form of society had God’s approval, and what was thereby shown regarding leadership?
3 Ever since men have dwelt together, whether in family life or in national or communal life of any kind, there has been the need for some form of organized society. This has meant that some have been placed in a position of authority and leadership, being responsible for the training of others and leading them in the right way. Such an arrangement has God’s approval, for, beginning particularly with Noah and on through Abraham and his sons, all of God’s dealings with these men and their associates were on the basis of a recognition of the form of patriarchal society that then obtained.—See The Watchtower, July 15, 1952.
4. How was Noah an example of good leadership?
4 Take Noah, for instance, as an example of good leadership, primarily respecting the true worship of Jehovah. Additionally, he must have done a fine job in the way of training the seven persons under his family headship, each one in his respective part, in the stupendous and most unusual and exacting task of building that huge boat. Remember, too, all the scorn and opposition they must have faced. What fighting courage Noah displayed on account of his strong faith, and what tenacity of purpose and tender love for those under his care, as he “constructed an ark for the saving of his household.”—Heb. 11:7, NW; Gen. 6:9; 8:20.
5. (a) In what way was Abraham a good example in this respect? (b) What special charge was entrusted to Abraham’s oldest slave?
5 Abraham, too, was a grand example of faithful leadership, again first with respect to the pure worship of Jehovah. Not only did he set the right example in his own course of conduct, but there is proof that he thoroughly trained and led his entire household, including hundreds of slaves, in loyal obedience in fighting on behalf of Jehovah’s righteous cause, also in meeting theocratic requirements. (Gen. 14:13-20; 17:9-14, 22-27) But while speaking of slaves, we want to remind ourselves of that one who was the oldest in Abraham’s household. He was entrusted with the mission of journeying to his master’s own kin at Haran and, under angelic guidance, finding and leading back with him a woman who would be a wife for Abraham’s son Isaac. The record shows that this servant keenly appreciated his responsibility, and was alert as he closely watched every detail in carrying out his commission. He did not trust in his own wisdom, but with faith like that of his master’s he looked for divine direction in the matter.—Gen. 24:1-27.
6. In summary, what can be learned from the examples already considered?
6 Thus, whether we consider the words of Jesus and the apostles, or go back to the earliest shadows of human history recorded in Scripture; whether it is a matter of practical, manual work as in building a boat, or in the delicate mission of finding a wife for his master’s son and heir, there is no question that Jehovah’s servants and slaves have often been placed in positions of great responsibility, calling for the exercise of the sterling qualities of leadership. And what of Jehovah’s people today?
A MINISTRY OF TRAINING
7. What personal questions confront us today, and how might we be tempted to sidestep them?
7 Today, as never before in human history, there is a tremendous work to be done right here on this earth by those who have come to a knowledge of the truth and who have seen and taken the step of dedication. Have you taken that step, have you made that vow, thus entering Jehovah’s service for all time as a theocratic slave of his? You may say, ‘Yes, I have taken that step, but I am not one of the anointed remnant class; and with my many limitations and secular duties there is no obligation resting upon me other than attending the meetings and sharing in the witness work as opportunity affords.’ Or you may say, ‘I am a sister in a congregation where there are brothers in all the responsible positions, and therefore it is not necessary and neither would it be right for me to act as a leader in any way.’ Well, let us look into the matter a little closer.
8. (a) What work is to be done on behalf of those of good will in Christendom? (b) Is our work finished when these ones have been gathered to Zion?
8 As the scriptures already considered clearly show, there is an urgent and big work to be done in these last days in declaring the truth, the Kingdom message, and in sounding the warning of Babylon’s doom and the imperative need to flee now! But does that complete our commission? No, there is a further work to be done on behalf of those who sigh and cry over the abominations committed in Christendom and who are ready to heed the warning message. As you know, these good people are generally found in such a befuddled and starved spiritual condition that they know little or nothing of the fundamental truths of God’s Word, and have no conception of Jehovah’s theocratic organization, Zion, as the place to which they must flee for protection. We must therefore busy ourselves in aiding these people, not only to get a knowledge of the truth, but also helping them to appreciate what they should do about it, helping them to come up over the highway leading from Babylon to Zion, gathered at last under the protective rule of the exalted Signal, Jesus Christ the reigning King. Can we say now that we have fulfilled our commission on behalf of these other sheep who are at last inside the “one flock, one shepherd” arrangement?—Ezek. 9:4; Isa. 62:10, AT; John 10:16, NW.
9. What principle applies to all true believers, and how is this demonstrated in Scripture?
9 Turning again to the Bible for our answer, we find repeatedly that form of argument, both in precept and in example, showing that those who accept the truth of the gospel, the message of light, must themselves become light bearers. They must be ready to be like David, who was one of Jehovah’s sheep, but was eventually called to be the shepherd of Israel, Jehovah’s inheritance, after being trained in the right qualities in caring for his father’s literal sheep. (Ps. 23:1; 78:70-72) Or, to put it another way, those who exercised faith to the point of dedicating themselves to do God’s will must henceforth demonstrate that right kind of faith by appropriate works, “for with the heart one exercises faith for righteousness, but with the mouth one makes public declaration for salvation.” The same principle was demonstrated by Jesus in the way he dealt with his first disciples. Their acceptance of him as the Messiah was not sufficient. He did not want them to be merely believers. Instead, he at once called them from their regular occupation, such as fishing, and began training them “to become fishers of men.” He showed that those who ‘hear the word with a right and good heart’ must themselves ‘retain it and bear fruit with endurance.’ Telling of the responsibility coming upon such, he said: “Pay attention to how you listen; for whoever has, more will be given him,” and stressing the close bond between himself and these responsive disciples, he said: “My mother and my brothers are these who hear the word of God and do it.” In short, every right kind of believer must be trained to become a right kind of minister.—Rom. 10:10; Mark 1:17; Luke 8:15-21, NW; Matt. 5:14; Jas. 2:17.
10. How does this principle have particular application today?
10 If the principle just stated was true in Jesus’ day, and even more so after the empowering holy spirit had come upon that early band of believers, how much more forcefully does that same principle apply in these days of the final fulfillment of Joel’s prophecy, as quoted by Peter on the day of Pentecost! Here, then, we have the answer to our question. Those who have responded to the preaching of the truth must themselves be trained and educated to become reliable and efficient preachers of that same Kingdom message. Because of the great work to be done world-wide, and because of the benefit it will mean to themselves, it is vital that all who come into the truth learn how to have an active share in “the ministry of the reconciliation,” and learn how to make an effective entreaty to others by properly expounding “the message of the reconciliation.” Why, it is in this very connection that Paul writes: “Working together with him, we also entreat you not to accept the undeserved kindness of God and miss its purpose.”—2 Cor. 5:18 to 6:1, NW; Acts 1:8; 2:17, 18.
11. Cite further scriptures stressing the need for a training work today.
11 All this irresistibly drives home the imperative need for an intensive training work to be done on behalf of all those who come to God’s organization, Zion. In the early days those who became “fellow citizens” and “members of the household of God” were “built up [trained and educated] upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, . . . being built up together into a place for God to inhabit by spirit.” Using exactly the same symbols of God’s house and city, and speaking of the training program for these “latter days,” when “Jehovah’s house shall be established on the top of the mountains,” Isaiah wrote: “Many peoples shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of Jehovah, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of Jehovah from Jerusalem.”—Eph. 2:19-22, NW; Isa. 2:2, 3, AS.
12. If this work is limited to the appointed servants of the Society, what difficulties are encountered, leading to what conclusion?
12 But who is going to do all this teaching and training? Would it be only the mature, male members of the congregation, appointed by the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society as servants in specific positions, together with the traveling representatives of the Society appointed as circuit and district servants? If that were the answer, then, in view of the large numbers of the Lord’s other sheep now responding to his voice in every land, it would inevitably mean that the majority of these would have to wait a very long time before they could receive the necessary personal help and training to enable them to become reliable and regular preachers and publishers. Besides, is it not true that even among those who have been associated with the organization for quite some time there are many who yet need much assistance? The right and practical answer, therefore, is that everyone who is established in the truth, whether male or female, can have some part in this vital work of training others who are not so far advanced as himself.
13. How has the need been met for accomplishing the training work in a theocratic manner?
13 However, it is not left in a loose, democratic fashion for each to decide for himself whether he is in position to train others and to judge for himself as to who needs help and how it should be done. Instead, in a truly theocratic fashion, as those who were at that great assembly at Yankee Stadium in 1953 will recall, this very problem was faced up to and dealt with in a realistic way, when an intensive house-to-house training program was announced. On that occasion it was forcefully shown that every publisher should be able to preach the good news in an effective way from house to house and that regularly. The new arrangements were then explained whereby all the appointed servants could give the required attention to this work. In turn these servants were to invite others in the congregation, who were established in the truth and dependable in the ministry, to take on the privilege and responsibility of training one or more of these inexperienced or weak ones who needed a helping hand. Since this training program has now been in operation for some time, there is every possibility, therefore, that you have been asked to share in this work, provided you are a dependable publisher yourself, even though you may not be of the anointed remnant, or even though you are a sister in a congregation that has a number of qualified male members.
14. To be “a right kind of minister,” what things must be observed and what things must be avoided?
14 Are you one of the servants appointed directly by the Society? or are you one of those invited by these servants to take some part in this ministry of training? If so, we want to appeal to you to be “a right kind of minister,” just as Paul urged Timothy. Do not refuse or hold back, becoming sluggish in the matter, for you know Jehovah disapproves of such an attitude. (Luke 9:62; Heb. 6:11, 12) On the other hand, do not become high-minded if such responsibility is given to you, but try to exercise a sound mind and get a balanced view of the matter. You will find Paul’s exhortation at Romans 12:3-8 most appropriate in this connection. Study it well and keep it in mind. Do not make the mistake of worldly leaders who tend to go to extremes, either gallantly leading from a safe position in the rear or strutting ahead in a spirit of proud ambition. Remember, rather, the spirit of God’s organization, the fighting spirit on behalf of those needing protection, also the spirit of love and humility, as shown by the Teacher and Master, who washed the feet of those to whom he was giving the right kind of lead. As Paul again wrote: “In brotherly love have tender affection for one another. In showing honor to one another take the lead. Do not loiter at your business. Be aglow with the spirit. Be slaves to Jehovah.” Keeping these things in mind you will never be overbearing, exacting or impatient with those who are placed in your care, but you will manifest that same tenacity and tenderness as shown by the great Leaders, Jehovah and his beloved Son, Christ Jesus.—Rom. 12:10, 11, NW; John 13:12-17.
15, 16. (a) What help and encouragement do the Scriptures give in facing this training work? (b) At the same time, what responsibility must be faced?
15 But perhaps you still feel unequal to the task of helping to train someone else, thinking that the work is too involved, having in mind the proper use of all the items of equipment provided by the organization, also the opposition and thorny questions likely to be encountered in the house-to-house work. In reply we remind you of Jesus’ final word to his disciples: “Go therefore and make disciples of people of all the nations, baptizing them . . . [and] teaching them to observe all the things I have commanded you.” They were not to branch out independently on their own, but, just as they themselves had been thoroughly taught how to perform the ministry in obedience to Christ’s commandments, so just exactly those same things they were to teach others to observe; nothing more, nothing less. Surely it should not be too difficult to help someone else in the same way as you yourself have been trained, especially when you remember that today, as in the early days, there are those servants in various positions appointed by the organization particularly “with a view to the training of the holy ones for ministerial work.” Of course, you should not attempt to do this work in your own strength and wisdom. Even Jesus, the perfect Servant, relied wholly on his Father’s spirit and Word to sustain and direct him in fulfilling his commission.—Matt. 28:19, 20; Eph. 4:12, NW.
16 To aid you in keeping the right and balanced view of your ministry, we would further point out that it is not a matter of comparing one position with another in the training work. Whether you are a missionary, or a circuit or district servant, or a sister who has been asked by the congregation servant to give a hand in aiding another less experienced sister, the qualities of leadership required are the same in every case. You are like a steward, and “what is looked for in stewards is for a man to be found faithful.” Confirming the same principle, Jesus said: “The person faithful in what is least is faithful also in much, and the person unrighteous in what is least is unrighteous also in much.”—1 Cor. 4:2; Luke 16:10, NW. See also Matthew 25:14-30, NW.
17. (a) How are Paul’s words at 1 Corinthians 4:15 to be understood? (b) In this regard, what can be learned with respect to Timothy?
17 As we approach the conclusion of this study we want to remind you of Paul’s words to the Corinthians: “Though you may have ten thousand tutors in Christ, you certainly do not have many fathers, for in Christ Jesus I have become your father through the good news.” (1 Cor. 4:15, NW) What is the difference between a tutor and a father? A paid tutor is primarily concerned with fulfilling his obligations by giving the instruction or training that is required of him, though he would not expect to have to repeat a lesson too many times on account of his pupil’s slowness in grasping things. His duty done, he is satisfied and finished and expects his pay. On the other hand, a true father is primarily concerned, not with himself, but in helping his child to make real progress and out of love, even more than duty, is prepared to be endlessly patient and forbearing, giving gladly and unselfishly of his best. As to how the apostle proved himself to be a father to those brothers at Corinth we refer you to his previous words at 1 Corinthians 4:11-13 (NW). Interesting, too, is it to note his succeeding words at 1Co 4 verses 16 and 17 with reference to well-trained Timothy, to whom Paul was as a real father. Regarding the methods of teaching mentioned, a good idea of these can be obtained from a study of the apostle’s two letters to beloved Timothy, where we note the sound Scriptural counsel given of admonition and warning, with practical detail to help this young minister properly discharge his own responsibilities in training others. As Paul says: “By giving these advices to the brothers you will be a right kind of minister of Christ Jesus, one nourished with the words of the faith and of the right teaching which you have followed closely.” Yes, Timothy faithfully followed the lead set for him and was thus taught how to become a good leader of others in the ministry. We, too, want to accept God’s undeserved kindness in this day and fulfill its purpose in being trained to help others become established as preachers of the good news.—1 Tim. 4:6, NW.
18. How must we be careful in forming a mental picture of Jesus when on earth?
18 We have already paid some attention to the prophetic view of Jehovah’s Servant and Leader, Christ Jesus, as revealed through the prophet Isaiah. Since, however, we are still in the flesh, let us finally get a brief picture of what kind of man, what kind of leader, Jesus was when on earth with his disciples. We must dismiss from our minds any false impressions gained from religious books or pictures where the idea is often conveyed that Jesus was unusual in his physical appearance, having a magnetic smile that none could resist and a commanding glance that none dared disobey. To the contrary, it seems evident from the belittling opinion held of him by those of his native territory that Jesus did not parade or force his perfect qualities on the notice of others. No, he exercised perfect good sense and modesty.—Matt. 13:54-56.
19. What kind of leader did Jesus prove to be, and how do his own words show this?
19 But thinking more in modern terms, do we visualize Jesus as a leader, striding ahead, the last word in efficiency and organization, impatient of the faults and shortcomings of others? Hardly. Mind you, there was no question of his perfect abilities in every respect. There was no mistake, no waste and never a wrong word. But his followers, while recognizing him as their Master, were not overawed by his personality, feeling that he was far ahead of them, as if in a separate category. On the contrary, both in spirit and in action he was very close to his followers, friendly and approachable, except when now and again the occasion demanded otherwise. And this thought of close proximity is one of the main ideas connected with leadership, as when a father leads a child, or a dog leads a blind man. What did Jesus say when inviting some to become his disciples? Note his gracious words: “Come to me, all you who are toiling and loaded down, and I will refresh you. Take my yoke upon you and become my disciples, for I am mild-tempered and lowly in heart, and you will find refreshment for your souls. For my yoke is kindly and my load is light.” This means that he was mild-tempered, reasonable, merciful and considerate toward those whom he was training. He was not upset by trifles. He was also of a lowly disposition in his dealings with them, with no big ideas of himself or creating an impression of superiority, even though perfect. He was always a refreshing companion, for he truly had the most lovely and lovable personality. The Pharisees did not get that impression, of course, but for the moment we are confining our view of Jesus as a leader and trainer of his friends, the disciples.—Matt. 11:28-30, NW.
20. As we go ahead in the training work, what things should be kept in mind?
20 Though Jesus is not visibly with us today, we know that in personality he has not changed one iota. (Heb. 13:8) He is our example and model, and those who are privileged to have any part, great or small, in giving a right lead to their brothers will do well to follow that example closely. Then you, like Jesus, will always be refreshing to your brothers and in that way you, too, will be giving of your best and will get the best out of others. For our profit and example, let us ever keep in mind that inspiring description of leadership now being fulfilled by Jehovah through his “servant,” Christ Jesus: “He will feed his flock like a shepherd, he will gather the lambs in his arm, and carry them in his bosom, and will gently lead those that have their young.”—Isa. 40:10, 11, AS.