Overseers of the Ministry
“If any man is reaching out for an office of overseer, he is desirous of a right kind of work.”—1 Tim. 3:1, NW.
1, 2. (a) Is it Scripturally right to desire an appointment as overseer? (b) What is a basic requirement to qualify?
KINGDOM publishers who properly understand their ministry have a progressive view. They are not content to stand still. They want to become mature, well-qualified servants of Jehovah, using fully whatever capabilities they have to advance new-world interests.
2 Being desirous of having additional privileges of service, it is Scripturally right for a brother to seek to advance his ministry toward the goal of becoming an overseer or servant in the congregation. “That statement is trustworthy,” as we read at 1 Timothy 3:1 (NW). “If any man is reaching out for an office of overseer, he is desirous of a right kind of work.” Therefore, one does not hang around Jehovah’s organization for years without taking progressive steps. He wants to grow up spiritually and take on added privileges of service. As soon as possible, with proper understanding, he takes the all-important step of symbolizing his dedication to Jehovah by water baptism, knowing this is a basic requirement if he hopes to live in the new world. But he does not stop there. He uses whatever capabilities he has in an effort to reach out and expand his ministerial privileges.
3. How are natural abilities used, and upon being appointed what costly mistake should one avoid?
3 His natural abilities are put to good theocratic use. No longer is he interested in utilizing all of his time and ability toward the goal of becoming what is deemed or termed a success in the world. That would be foolish, he knows, for the Bible plainly says there is absolutely no future in this old system of things. The only worthwhile and enduring thing is the new world. Wisely, then, he provides his material needs and uses all other time, effort and ability to advance new-world interests. Discreet ones prayerfully arrange their affairs and avoid making the costly mistake of some who, upon qualifying and being appointed servants, later allowed themselves to become weighted down “seeking their own interests, not those of Christ,” to the point where they lost Jehovah’s favor and were removed from all new-world appointments. (Phil. 2:21; 1 Tim. 6:6-10, NW) Appreciative servants will not allow old-world interests, shortly to end, to jeopardize their unending career with Jehovah’s new world. They apply themselves, seeking not ‘their own interests, but those of Christ,’ which results in their being a blessing to brothers, persons of good will, and, above all, an honor and praise to Jehovah, who called them from old-world pursuits to preach.
4. Name Scriptural qualifications for an overseer.
4 In addition to being motivated by a proper desire and reaching out for the office of overseer, other things are necessary for one to qualify. The Scripture goes on: “The overseer should therefore be irreprehensible, a husband of one wife, moderate in habits, sound in mind, orderly, a lover of strangers, qualified to teach, not a drunken brawler, not a smiter, but reasonable, not belligerent, not a lover of money, a man presiding over his own household in a right manner, having children in subjection with all seriousness; (if indeed any man does not know how to preside over his own household, how will he take care of God’s congregation?) not a newly converted man, for fear that he might get puffed up with pride and fall into the judgment passed upon the Devil. Moreover, he should also have a favorable testimony from people on the outside, in order that he might not fall into reproach and a snare of the Devil.”—1 Tim. 3:2-7, NW.
5. Who, then, qualify, and how long does it take?
5 Scripturally, then, only dedicated, mature, well-balanced, progressive-thinking and acting congregation publishers and pioneers with a proper view of the ministry qualify to be overseers in the congregation. Just how long is it before one can become an overseer? Some apply themselves so diligently that upon the completion of a full year of ministerial service, after symbolizing their dedication by water baptism, they have matured and progressed to the point where they are appointed overseers by the Society. In each congregation, however, the most mature, capable and zealous ministers are appointed overseers, in keeping with the Bible’s counsel to use “not a newly converted man.”
6. (a) Can women be appointed? (b) What should a sister who has the responsibility to preside over meetings do?
6 But what if there are not sufficient dedicated men in a congregation? Can women be appointed to services? Yes, qualified sisters are appointed in such cases and care for the duties outlined. If there are no male appointed overseers, sisters have the responsibility to preside over meetings. In recognition of the theocratic headship of man and realizing that she is temporarily or circumstantially serving in the congregation in place of a man who should fill that position, it is proper for the sister while so serving to wear a head covering. When a brother moves into the area or local men learn the truth, qualify and are appointed overseers, it is a time of happiness for such sisters. Gladly they give way to the brother in recognition of Jehovah’s theocratic arrangement.—Eph. 5:24-32, NW. (See “This Means Everlasting Life”, pages 154-163, for additional information on “Woman’s Privileges in the Congregation.”)
7. (a) How does a servant value his appointment? (b) If he is faithful, will his assignment end at Armageddon?
7 On meeting the various and necessary qualifications and being appointed an overseer or servant by the Society, a congregation publisher, pioneer or missionary who has a proper view of his ministry esteems his appointment as a great treasure, one that cannot be bought with all the money in the world. He realizes that a servant appointment is a token of Jehovah’s favor for faithful service. Rightfully he values his appointment more than any position he might have or could possibly attain in the old world. He well knows everything in the old world is soon going to pass away. Within this generation it will be a thing of the past! Yes, gone once and for all time, while the New World society is here to stay. By faithfully fulfilling his assignment he knows it will be his good pleasure to declare abroad the excellencies of Jehovah between now and Armageddon and to serve and assist his brothers through the battle of Armageddon right on into the new world, where for a thousand years he will be further privileged to share in the development of God’s new world. Having this crystal-clear view, no wonder an appointed servant serves his brothers so well and is diligent to fulfill his assignment “whole-souled as to Jehovah.”—Col. 3:22-24, NW.
8. Why must overseers know their specific duties and be acquainted with the duties of other servants?
8 To carry out his obligations it is vitally important that each servant know what is required of him. He must know what his duties are and how to fulfill them. This he learns from a careful study of Preaching Together in Unity, Qualified to Be Ministers, the Kingdom Ministry and other publications of the Society. Not only does he acquaint himself with his own duties, but he also knows the duties of the other servants and co-ordinates his activity with the other appointed overseers, which results in all overseers lovingly and unitedly serving their brothers. With each servant understanding his assigned duties and carrying them out, the servant body is a co-ordinated and unified group working closely together, looking well to the interest of the congregation.—1 Pet. 5:1-5, NW.
9. Must overseers practice what they preach?
9 Having a proper view of his appointment, a servant is not one in name only. He is a servant in word and in deed. He continues to be a good and zealous minister, realizing that part of his responsibility before Jehovah and to his brothers is taking the lead in field service. Therefore, he is not one who gets on the speaking platform and gives fine talks encouraging his brothers to do better in field ministry and then neglects to show up at the place of contact himself. No, he practices what he preaches. He is at the contact place himself, regularly and on time, with well-planned and worked-out arrangements for the group to proceed to the territory and promptly start ministering without loss of time. Much depends upon his diligence, enthusiasm and example, which cannot be neglected without its resulting in hurt to the congregation. He keeps in mind that sheep are led, not driven, and in harmony with the Society’s counsel and instructions he takes an energetic lead in the preaching work.
10, 11. (a) What responsibility does Acts 20:28 lay on overseers? (b) In what manner is this rendered?
10 Servants who have a proper view of the ministry are interested, not only in their own ministerial service, but also in rendering assistance to others. A true servant realizes his responsibility to carry out Acts 20:28 (NW), where it is stated: “Pay attention to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the holy spirit has appointed you overseers, to shepherd the congregation of God.” Just what does this mean? Well, what is necessary to have life in the new world? A knowledge of the truth? Attending meetings? Symbolizing one’s dedication by water baptism? Those are basic needs, yes, but something else too is required! The all-important and vital preaching, “for if you publicly declare that ‘word in your mouth’, that Jesus is Lord, and exercise faith in your heart that God raised him up from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one exercises faith for righteousness, but with the mouth one makes public declaration for salvation.”—Rom. 10:9, 10, NW.
11 Therefore, in complying with Acts 20:28, overseers have the responsibility to help all associated with the congregation to be active praisers of Jehovah. This assistance is rendered in a loving and considerate way by overseers, not in a cold, begrudging, unfriendly manner, nor one that will embarrass. The overseer considers a publisher’s difficulties, which are sometimes more fancied than real, and endeavors to help each one to overcome his retarding difficulties by regular encouragement and making definite arrangements for the one needing help to share regularly in ministerial service. Those being assisted should be most grateful to these untiring overseers, realizing their efforts are being expended in their behalf for their own welfare. Appreciative publishers gladly cooperate with their overseers.
12. (a) Why must the congregation be kept clean, and who has this responsibility? (b) Are sisters to handle disfellowshiping or probation cases?
12 For any congregation to have Jehovah’s blessing and favor, clean, acceptable worship must be forthcoming. (1 Cor. 5:6-13, NW) Should some individual in the congregation violate Jehovah’s commands for clean living, it is the responsibility of the publisher who knows of the violation to bring that matter to the attention of the congregation committee, who Scripturally have the responsibility to keep the organization clean. The committee will fully investigate the matter and then take whatever action may be necessary, disfellowshiping the offender or putting him on probation, and making appropriate announcement to the congregation. In congregations where sisters are serving on the committee they should not handle a problem involving possible disfellowshiping or probation. Where the committee has two brothers on it, they will hear the matter. Should there be a difference of opinion between the two brothers as to what decision should be made, then a mature brother from another congregation may be called on, or if the circuit servant is soon to visit he may complete the committee. Should there be no brothers to serve on the committee, or only one, then the matter will await the visit of the circuit servant, or brothers from a nearby congregation will be called upon.
13. How should overseers think about congregation matters?
13 Overseers who have a proper view of congregation responsibilities think about them night and day. Where can improvement be made? How can more assistance be given to publishers? Can midweek witnessing be arranged and improved in addition to more efficient weekend service? What adjustments are needed to keep the training program up to date, so that the congregation may move ahead and enjoy increase? How can meetings be improved, and more assisted to benefit those attending? And, as the congregation expands, assistant servants are assigned, so when the time comes for another congregation to be formed well-qualified and trained brothers are in position to take oversight of the Kingdom work. Just as a man in the business world must think and plan his activities if he is to have a successful business, even more so must overseers give unending consideration, thought and attention to congregational needs and activities.
14. What correct view do publishers have of appointed overseers?
14 A devoted overseer has the theocratic love and respect of all publishers. They love him as a servant of Jehovah, and are desirous of co-operating and working with him. They feel that they can go to him with problems and receive his help and loving guidance. They recognize that all servant appointments come from Jehovah through his theocratic organization and count it a privilege to co-operate with the overseers whom Jehovah is pleased to use. If an overseer becomes negligent in his duties, they know Jehovah, in his own due time and way, will bring about needed changes. They wait upon him to take action through his organization. Thus they manifest that they have full and complete confidence that Jehovah is directing his theocratic organization.
15, 16. What will result from having a proper view of the ministry?
15 With congregation publishers, pioneers and overseers having the proper view of their ministry, unity and peace prevail. They work closely together, worshiping Jehovah in holy array by proclaiming throughout their assigned territory his glorious name and purposes. As this is done, the other sheep are found, fed and led in the way that leads to life in the new world. Before long, these new ones too see their position from Jehovah’s point of view. They come to appreciate that they have been called from the darkness of the world in order to preach. And preach they will—in favorable season and in troublesome season, alongside other qualified Kingdom publishers who have a proper view of the ministry.
16 To be sure, the stones will not have to cry out declaring the glory and majesty of Jehovah in any congregation’s territory. No, for publishers with a proper view of the ministry are and will keep on preaching this good news of the Kingdom and gathering the other sheep into the New World society until Jehovah himself says the preaching work is done.
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“From day to day tell the good news of salvation by him.”—PSALM 96:2, NW.