‘Keep Watching the Ministry That You Fulfill It’
“Keep watching the ministry which you accepted in the Lord, that you fulfill it.”—Col. 4:17, NW.
1. (a) How is Jehovah manly? (b) To triumph with Jehovah, in what way must Jehovah’s witnesses prove manly?
“JEHOVAH is a manly person of war,” sang the delivered Israelites. (Ex. 15:3, NW) But he is not only a mighty war God; he is manly in the sense that he is reliable, responsible. (Isa. 55:11; Mal. 3:6) He takes responsibility and credit for all his acts, from creation down to the establishment of a brilliant new world. He will make way for it on earth shortly by destroying, not merely the war power of one nation, as when he engulfed Pharaoh’s army in the Red Sea, but the entire present system of things. He desires that his servants will now prove themselves likewise responsible, faithful and dependable toward his service, so that they may come off triumphant with him then.
2. With what spirit did Christ Jesus undertake his assignment on earth, and why should it be copied?
2 God’s obedient and faithful Son, Christ Jesus, has likewise always willingly assumed responsibility. He was delighted to carry out his Father’s will, even through much hardship and persecution and a death in ignominy. (Heb. 10:9; Matt. 26:38, 39, 42, 44) Always he shunned the work-evading, self-enriching way of false religion. (Matt. 23:4; 20:28) He served with true humility, manfully facing up to the arduous tasks assigned him. Because it meant beginning this immense, world-wide work of witnessing to all nations, early in his short preaching career on earth he invited companions to join him and gave them responsibility in the ministry, accompanied by ample instructions. (Matt. 10:1-42; Luke 10:1-16) These have done well to copy his spirit: “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.”—Matt. 11:29, 30, NW.
3. What does it mean for Christians to “carry on as men”?
3 Those who cringe and shrink back when work in the ministry with its obligations is assigned them are not copying the manly example of Jesus. Nor are they heeding the apostle’s wholesome admonition to “carry on as men, grow mighty.” (1 Cor. 16:13, NW) In Jesus’ life, preaching and shepherding the flock claimed all his attention. Additional duties he welcomed joyfully. He has now committed his kingdom belongings on earth into the willing, reliable hands of his “faithful and discreet slave” class, which has submissively and willingly carried out its assigned work with great joy. The evil slave, who was dilatory and irresponsible, landed outside with the hypocrites, weeping and gnashing his teeth.—Matt. 24:51.
4. How has Jehovah rewarded the diligence of the faithful remnant?
4 How bountifully Jehovah has prospered the united remnant, truly a “little flock,” which he entrusted with the Master’s belongings! Has it not been because they accepted this assignment with joy and stuck to it? Today they are surrounded by a numerous crowd of men of all nations, the fruits to show for their manfully bearing this seemingly staggering load of responsibility. Happily the burden of preaching the good news in all the world now rests upon many shoulders. Jehovah has sent for many ‘fishers and hunters’ to co-operate together in the work. (Jer. 16:16) These he has caused to be organized all over the earth, each having his assigned place and his obligation to participate fully in the great distribution work, the feeding work.
5. Instead of drooping their hands what should all do now?
5 No time now is it, therefore, for any to be slackers or idlers. “Droop not your hands”! says the prophecy. (Zeph. 3:16, Mo) Greater responsibilities, requiring all the strength we have, lie ahead! But the rewards also are great. Watch the “faithful and discreet slave” for directions and receive with willingness and zeal the assignments given. Watch well the Kingdom interests committed into your hands and do not try to spare yourself, but increase more and more. The approval of Jehovah and Christ Jesus will give you great joy as you become conscious of the words directed to you: “Well done, good and faithful slave! . . . Enter into the joy of your master.”—Matt. 25:23, NW.
6. What opportunities of service are opening up, and how should dedicated servants of Jehovah respond?
6 For all dedicated servants now, greater and wider opportunities of service are opening out in broader fields. Look for these opportunities and then make way in your life for them. Seize hold of them: “Then that slave that understood the will of his master but did not get ready or do in line with his will will be beaten with many strokes.” (Luke 12:47, NW) Why balk and wait to be repeatedly urged or even beaten? Go forward yourself! It may mean some grand opportunity: pioneering, attending Gilead, even serving at the Society’s branch headquarters! And each one who qualifies is privileged also to continue his personal field ministry in the local congregation in an expanded way.
7. (a) How do some brothers respond to opportunities of service in the congregation? (b) What is the right thing to do?
7 In all our congregations there is plenty to be done in the ministry, the service to the Kingdom and the brothers, which should be done with zeal and enthusiasm. But some brothers are ever so reluctant to assume the responsibility, perhaps that of being a servant in the local congregation. Such ones seem to malinger or avoid such responsibility. It is somewhat like trying to load and ride a camel. As soon as the camel sees that he is about to be used he begins to groan. Even after the saddle is strapped on him he refuses to rise in spite of all the shouts and epithets of the driver. No other response, just a louder whine. When the exasperated driver makes use of a big stick the camel then may get up, but with a frightening yell, much spitting, sputtering—and begrudging every step he takes. Have you, camellike, been nursing a queer mental quirk about shouldering your load of responsibility to Jehovah and your brothers in your congregation? If so, take your problem before Jehovah in prayer and seek correction.
8. What is the right attitude for brothers in the congregation regarding positions of greater responsibility?
8 To want to be used by Jehovah in positions of greater responsibility is right. “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) It will have Jehovah’s blessing. “Pursue love, yet keep striving after the spiritual gifts.” (1 Cor. 14:1, NW) It is not that you aspire to be prominent and in the limelight, but rather that you strive to attain the maturity necessary, because responsibility always accompanies a position of supervision. Keep diligently studying and training yourself in the ministry so that you are well qualified for it. (1 Tim. 3:1-6; Eph. 4:15) At the proper time you will be assigned tasks not above your ability to perform.—Ps. 75:5-7.
9. (a) Whose responsibility is the headship of the congregation? (b) How can responsible servants in the congregation prevent a misstep by sisters?
9 Brothers who are appointed to the position of overseer must bear in mind that the responsibility of headship is theirs exclusively. Dedicated women in the congregation, even though marriage partners of theocratic overseers, are not to be permitted to usurp authority, to the displeasing of Jehovah. They, instead, as dutiful wives, properly remain in theocratic submission. When brothers sometimes fail manfully to take the lead sisters are found trying to exercise oversight without authority and in rebellion against it. “But I want you to know that the head of every man is the Christ; in turn, the head of a woman is the man; in turn, the head of the Christ is God.” (1 Cor. 11:3, NW) Responsible theocratic servants should not negligently permit room for their wives or other sisters in the congregation to make this misstep.—1 Tim. 3:2-5, 12.
10. What responsibilities fall upon the overseers in the congregation, and who appreciate their efforts?
10 Truly weighty responsibilities fall upon brothers who are overseers in the congregation. Besides their obligations to Jehovah and Christ Jesus, to sound doctrine and to the preaching of the good news, they owe loving care and attention to all the brothers in the congregation, particularly the new-found sheep. (1 Pet. 5:2-4; Acts 20:17-19, 28; Rom. 15:1) These hard-working “shepherds of the flock” often sacrifice their own personal comforts to “bear the weaknesses of those not strong.” They thus win the appreciation of Jehovah and certainly the gratitude of their considerate brothers, who love them for their work’s sake. “Now we request you, brothers, to have regard for those who are working hard among you and presiding over you in the Lord and admonishing you, and to give them more than extraordinary consideration in love because of their work. Be peaceable with one another. On the other hand, we exhort you, brothers, admonish the disorderly, speak comfortingly to the depressed souls, support the weak, be long-suffering toward all.”—1 Thess. 5:12-14, NW.
11. To be a “prince” in Jehovah’s organization today means what?
11 Jehovah further describes the responsibilities of ministerial servants in this perilous time of the end through his prophet Isaiah: “Behold! a king will reign in righteousness, and princes will rule with justice; and each of them will be like a hiding-place from the wind, and a shelter from the storm, like streams of water in a dry place, like the shade of a great rock in a wearisome land.” (Isa. 32:1, 2, AT) This fixes the responsibility for any male servant appointed by the governing body and serving in the organization today, including many of the other sheep now serving in the position of “princes,” responsible servants in God’s New World society. As any servant in a congregation will quickly tell you, this title of “prince” is not a mere honorary designation! The very word itself as used in the Scriptures places the emphasis on the heavy responsibility, the position of leadership in service to Jehovah and the brothers. Now the brothers may turn to the servants for such desired hiding place, covert, refreshment and shade. Jehovah promises that his great King and his princes each will be such source of comfort and protection in this time of dire need.
12. Against what must servants guard, and what two extremes must be avoided?
12 Notwithstanding such weighty responsibilities, overseers are not to assume high airs and become haughty or self-important. Guard against becoming impatient with the weaknesses of your immature brothers. “Be not hasty in thy spirit to be angry: for anger resteth in the bosom of fools.” That King James translation of Ecclesiastes seven, verse nine, we can profitably ponder further in the modern Moffatt translation: “Never be hasty in your anger; it is only fools who cherish wrath.” Maintain the attitude of humility, neither becoming petty nor overcritical, which is not manly. (Mic. 6:8) “But all of you,” counsels Peter, “gird yourselves with humility of mind toward one another, because God opposes the haughty ones, but he gives undeserved kindness to the humble ones. Humble yourself, therefore, under the mighty hand of God.” (1 Pet. 5:5, 6, NW) At the same time guard against your own weaknesses, lest you fall. (1 Cor. 10:12) “Do not be over-righteous, and be not excessively wise; why should you ruin yourself?” (Eccl. 7:16, AT) So while guarding against the weaknesses of your brothers, watch over your own strength and remember that “he who stands in awe of God shall avoid both extremes.”—Eccl. 7:18, Mo.
HOW TO MEASURE UP
13. Is it possible for anyone to measure up to the demanding requirements for servants in the congregation, and how?
13 As we consider the many responsibilities of servants in the congregation, into our minds pops a question: Can anyone measure up to such demanding requirements, and how? Still another responsibility contains the answer. “Grow mighty” is the concise formula. (1 Cor. 16:13, NW) What stands in the way of developing the necessary abilities? Strive unceasingly for this mature stature to the aid and blessing of your brothers and the pleasure of Jehovah. “A wise man is mightier than a strong man, and a man of knowledge than he who has strength.”—Prov. 24:5, RS.
14. What assurance has Jehovah given his servants on earth that he will help them?
14 To his servants, confronted now with the great responsibility of preaching the good news world-wide, Jehovah promises to impart strength and renew zeal: “Have you not known? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary, his understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength. Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.” (Isa. 40:28-31, RS) Jehovah will thus help his servants on earth to accomplish his will and get things done.
15. What is the source of success and growth in the theocratic organization?
15 As you increase your abilities in the ministry, be mindful of the source of your growth. “Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit,” says Jehovah of armies. (Zech. 4:6, AS) How could we as an organization have accomplished more than eighty-seven million hours in the missionary field last year without the help of this dynamic force, especially considering our personal shortcomings and weaknesses and taking into account the efforts made to stop the ministry? To our God, Jehovah, we give the credit for all the success and growth, as an organization and in each individual. “Finally, go on acquiring power in the Lord and in the mightiness of his strength.”—Eph. 6:10, NW.
16. How is one able to grow mighty in the strength of Jehovah?
16 Jehovah marks out the course for growth under the impetus of his spirit and the guidance of his organization. Growing mighty in the strength of Jehovah comes as a result of much study of God’s Word and association in service with his organization, which motivates persons to give the witness and to make opportunities for themselves to preach more and more. Then the quality of service comes in for much attention and we build up the effectiveness with which we preach. So we enlarge the sphere of our service, not resisting the urge to help others grow in knowledge, service and godly qualities. It is certain to produce growth in both ourselves and the brothers who follow our good examples, for they will be quick to imitate the right example. (Titus 2:7) For these reasons Paul admonished the young ministerial servant: “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.”—1 Tim. 4:15, 16, NW.
17. What counsel does God’s Word give us concerning advancing to maturity and building ourselves up in the ministry?
17 Do not be surprised at what God’s powerful spirit can accomplish toward bringing you up to maturity for the building up of your brothers to God’s glory and delight. (Jer. 9:23, 24; Eph. 6:10; Col. 1:10, 11) Accordingly, “do not put out the fire of the spirit.” (1 Thess. 5:19, NW) Rather, “stir up like a fire the gift of God,” the ministry that is the heritage of all of Jehovah’s willing, vigorous witnesses today. Take a forward place in the front ranks of valiant theocratic warriors! As you wield with increasing confidence and skill “the sword of the spirit,” Jehovah will bless you mightily to continue “overturning strongly entrenched things.”—2 Tim. 1:6; 2 Cor. 10:4, NW.
18. If we continue to press the tempo of our theocratic warfare, what will result?
18 “Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might,” urges the wise writer of Ecclesiastes nine, Ec 9 verse ten (RS). Shrinking back gives Jehovah no pleasure. A backward step may eventually drop the timid soul into destruction. (Heb. 10:38, 39) Jehovah blesses fearlessness with might in theocratic warfare that ‘waxes greater and greater.’ (2 Sam. 5:10) His invincible active force will bring to realization, more and more, his prophecy of increase, continuing and unending increase: “The little one shall become a thousand, and the small one a strong nation: I, Jehovah, will hasten it in its time.” (Isa. 60:22, AS) Now that Jehovah’s New World society is growing more and more numerous, let us see to it that it does not lose its virile strength because we as servants become spiritually lax, fat and sluggish. If we keep our places, discharge our responsibilities and continue to press the tempo of our theocratic warfare in a genuine, manly manner, Jehovah surely will not forsake us. Let the adversary not forget that Jehovah is with us! “Who is the King of glory? Jehovah strong and mighty, Jehovah mighty in battle.”—Ps. 24:8, AS.
19. As we look to the future what are our prospects, and how does the Bible picture Jehovah’s people?
19 There has been no stopping of Jehovah’s preaching work through his organization, with results that are marvelous. As we look ahead to our breath-taking prospects we have no reason to doubt that “the people that know their God shall be strong, and do exploits.” (Dan. 11:32, AS) “Blow ye the trumpet in Zion, and sound an alarm in my holy mountain; let all the inhabitants of the land tremble: for the day of Jehovah cometh, for it is nigh at hand; . . . A great people and a strong; . . . They run like mighty men; they climb the wall like men of war; and they march every one on his ways, and they break not their ranks. Neither doth one thrust another; they march every man in his path; and they burst through the weapons, and break not off their course.”—Joel 2:1, 2, 7, 8, AS.
20. What part does love play in the advance of these forward-moving fighters, and making what difference?
20 What has drawn these forward-moving fighters together into this triumphant theocratic army with power that is irresistible? It is simply love, love of God with which he draws men together. We are determined to let nothing stand in our way of expressing our love for him. (Rom. 8:35-39) This love of Jehovah, together with love of fellow man, is the perfect bond of union. With it we resist the hate-breeding infection of this selfish world. It is the great difference between the New World society and the old. Satan’s world will never destroy this love from the midst of God’s organization, but it will live through Armageddon and exist as the firm foundation for serving Jehovah in blessedness for eternity.
21. What must we do to be sure that Jehovah will never stop loving us?
21 Love of Jehovah and our brothers now serves as the great stabilizer of our determined efforts to maintain firmness of faith and mighty acts consistent with it. It causes us alertly and manfully to accept whatever responsibility Jehovah is pleased to bestow upon us in caring for his kingdom interests. Because such unselfishness is our motive, our brothers and, above all, Jehovah surely will forgive our unintentional shortcomings, weaknesses and imperfections of the flesh. Jehovah had his inspired apostle give us this assurance. “But the complete end of all things has drawn close. Be sound in mind, therefore, and be vigilant with a view to prayers. Above all things, have intense love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins.” (1 Pet. 4:7, 8, NW) Jehovah will never stop loving or blessing us if we “stay awake, stand firm in the faith, carry on as men, grow mighty.” Everything Jehovah does for us he does out of love. So with thoughtful appropriateness, Paul concludes his compact encouragement, which we commend to you ministerial servants with special recommendation: “Let all your affairs take place with love.”—1 Cor. 16:13, 14, NW.