Accepting Responsibility in the New World Society
“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.”—Luke 16:10, NW.
1. What is our viewpoint toward assignments of service in the New World society?
WHEN one appreciates Jehovah’s New World society he also recognizes that it is a happy privilege to serve within it. David well expressed his feeling toward service in this way: “A day in thy courts is better than a thousand. I had rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God, than to dwell in the tents of wickedness.” (Ps. 84:10, AS) In contrast with the unhappy burdens of those in the old world, Jesus says: “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) It is a source of joy to a true Christian to be given responsibility and to be able to do more to serve his brothers.
2. How and why should one ‘reach out for the office of an overseer’?
2 At 1 Timothy 3:1 it is written: “If any man is reaching out for an office of overseer, he is desirous of a right kind of work.” (NW) If it is the right thing to do, then we want to do it. How? Not by pushing ourselves forward in the organization and campaigning for a position. Rather, this is a constantly growing organization and there is a continual need for more servants to take the oversight of Kingdom interests. Thus when new congregations are formed or new service centers are organized within the congregation, the need arises for more mature brothers to shoulder the responsibility there. Will you qualify to serve? When you made a dedication to serve Jehovah you said: “Here am I; send me.” (Isa. 6:8) Now it is your obligation to act in accord with that expression you made to Jehovah God. You are fully aware of the fact that he will not send you to represent him as an overseer of the congregation of his people unless you meet the requirements set out in the Bible. So you should strive for maturity and apply yourself consistently to meet the high standards set for overseers. (Heb. 5:12–6:3) Then when the need arises for an overseer Jehovah will send you because you will be the one designated in his Word. However, even should it be that the need does not arise right away, there is no loss. Every mature minister in the New World society should be just as keenly interested in the advancement of the organization as are the appointed servants. So they willingly offer their co-operation to those who are appointed and use their ability to expand the work in a theocratic way.
3. What provision is wisely made for future expansion?
3 Overseers in the congregation should likewise be forward-looking. They should realize that the day will come when more brothers will be needed to care for servants’ positions. So, with practical foresight, they would do well to train those who manifest the needed qualities of love and humility and who earnestly desire to serve their brothers, to equip them as servants. Then when the need arises there will be no lack, but men already trained and Scripturally qualified will be ready to handle the work. Of course, this training is not done by having them actually take over meetings or do the work of the servant if he is present and able to carry out his assignment. But the one being trained can work along with the appointed servant and be observant, and the one appointed can carefully tutor him, even as Jesus taught his apostles and as Paul tutored Timothy.
4. What does 1 Peter 5:1-5 show to be the right attitude for an overseer?
4 Should you be appointed by holy spirit to the position of overseer, what then? 1 Peter 5:1-5 counsels as to the course to follow: “Shepherd the flock of God in your care, not under compulsion, but willingly, neither for love of dishonest gain, but eagerly, neither as lording it over those who are God’s inheritance, but becoming examples to the flock. . . . all of you gird yourselves with humility of mind toward one another, because God opposes the haughty ones, but he gives undeserved kindness to the humble ones.” (NW) Realizing that you have entrusted to your care the flock of God—people whom he loves, those of his select anointed remnant and others whom he classes as the choicest things of all the nations, his “other sheep”—you should be keenly aware of the great responsibility resting upon you. Such a position does not engender any feeling of superiority in a truly theocratic individual, but rather humility. His desire is to serve Jehovah and his brothers, not to be waited on by others.—Mic. 6:8; Matt. 20:26, 27.
5. Why is faithful performance of service now so important?
5 Those of the anointed remnant are brothers of the King Christ Jesus. As individuals their faithful performance of service now in caring for Kingdom interests is important. If they do not meet the requirements of service now, they will be rejected as unfaithful in a few things, will lose the joy of their Lord and will not be promoted to the heavenly kingship. They want to attain to the prize set before them. (Matt. 25:14-30) The “other sheep” must likewise prove faithful in promoting the interests of the Master. If they do so, it may be their happy lot to continue in positions of princely service right through Armageddon and into God’s new world.—Isa. 32:1.
6. What is it that recommends one as a minister?
6 In the New World society it is not a letter with one’s name engraved on it that makes him a minister. He does not look to any man to write him a letter of recommendation to uphold his position as a minister of God. His ministry is entrusted to him by Jehovah God and the fruits of his service are his letter of recommendation that he is performing the ministry. It is a letter written on the hearts of men and evident to all mankind. (2 Cor. 3:1-3) So also are positions of oversight entrusted to mature ministers by the Lord. However, that is not the end of the matter. While this additional privilege of service shows God’s recognition of his past course of faithful service, he must not now live on his past record. His attention must be centered on his present assignment and he must continue to bring forth fruit that will be an honor to his God.—John 15:1-8; Matt. 21:18, 19.
7. What fine standard is set out in the Scriptures for overseers to follow?
7 Proper oversight of the congregation requires careful following of the pattern set by Christ Jesus, who is our Leader and Exemplar, Jehovah himself being the “shepherd and overseer of your souls.” (1 Pet. 2:25, NW) Jesus recognized that Jehovah deals with his people in compassion, that he is patient and forgiving of our shortcomings and that although his creatures are beyond the ability of man to number He considers the needs of every one of them. (Isa. 49:13; Ps. 103:14; 145:14-16) Although many gather to worship him, in his infinite love he considers even the seemingly insignificant ones among them. Because they call upon him in truth, he hears their prayers and guides them. (Ps. 145:18, 19) Said Jesus: “It is not a desirable thing with my Father who is in heaven for one of these little ones to perish.” (Matt. 18:12-14, NW) Showing the Father’s tender love for the sheep, the prophet Isaiah wrote: “Behold, the Lord Jehovah will come as a mighty one, . . . 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) Jesus followed the pattern set by his Father and thus left a loving example for us to copy.
8. Why is personal interest in each minister important, and how can it be shown?
8 Genuine love for the flock of God is shown by personal interest in the needs of the individual ministers. (1 Cor. 10:24, NW) They are not to be dealt with alone as a group, but each one must be given the necessary assistance to keep pace with the spiritual growth of the congregation as a whole. One of the principal reasons that reports of the preaching activity of Jehovah’s witnesses are compiled is that proper aid can be rendered to the individuals in the congregation to improve their ministry. The report in itself is not the goal; it shows that good work has been done and it indicates where assistance may be needed to improve. Those who are zealous in the service do well. Jehovah is blessing their efforts and they are getting results. As a result they are happy, energetic and eager to do more. Now see what can be done to aid the others in the congregation to share as fully and to have the same joy in their service.
SHARE IN MINISTERIAL TRAINING
9. How should one respond to training in the ministry when it is provided for him?
9 When one learns the truth and appreciates the privilege that is his to serve the Almighty God as one of his witnesses, he takes the forward step of dedication and symbolizes by water immersion his unreserved decision to serve Jehovah. (Heb. 10:9) While he realizes that this is no doubt the most important forward step to be taken in service to God, he also knows that it is not the only one. He will continue to progress by availing himself of the provisions made to help him grow to the full stature of a mature minister. The overseers and others in the congregation know that he needs instruction to present the Kingdom message properly and to overcome problems that may be encountered in explaining the truth to others. Recognizing this need, they do not merely send the new brother out to preach and wish him well, offering no practical help. (Jas. 2:14-17) To the contrary, the theocratic organization is well organized to care for the training for ministerial work. (Eph. 4:11-13) Both new ones and others who may have been associated for years are provided loving assistance. When that help is given, “pay attention to how you listen.” (Luke 8:18, NW) Do not be indifferent, thus missing the purpose of this provision that is an expression of the undeserved kindness of God. Earnestly seek to grasp each point of instruction and apply it. Go out of your way to avail yourself of every opportunity to advance to maturity. There are greater blessings awaiting you.
10. Having been trained, what is the next step, and how should it be viewed?
10 Having thus been trained yourself, “you ought to be teachers in view of the time,” the apostle Paul says. (Heb. 5:12, NW) Now do not draw back and say that you could not handle such an assignment, that you could not train another to preach at the doors, to conduct home Bible studies and to have an effective share in congregation meetings. (Heb. 10:38, 39) Jehovah promises you his spirit and with it you can. You have found it to be a keen pleasure to receive the help offered you and to progress step by step in your service. Now read what is recorded in Acts 20:35: “I have exhibited to you in all things that by thus laboring you must assist those who are weak and must bear in mind the words of the Lord Jesus, when he himself said, ‘There is more happiness in giving than there is in receiving.’” (NW) You have seen that example set by your brothers. Now follow it and find out for yourself that the greater joys are yet ahead of you, that there is even more happiness in giving aid to others than there is in being the recipient of it yourself. Be grateful for the privilege and perform it as to Jehovah. (Col. 3:23, 24) “What is looked for in stewards is for a man to be found faithful.” (1 Cor. 4:2, NW) Such a faithful steward will not be content with minimum performance. If he can see no definite results, then he will reconsider the way in which he is handling the assignment. He loves his Master and he wants to do his work well. The overseer is also interested in the progress of each minister, and in the training program he shows it by checking regularly how each one handles all given assignments. He observes the progress as reflected in each one’s service report and he actually goes with each one when he calls at the homes of others to explain the good news of the Kingdom. In this way he can offer kindly suggestions and observe who has become qualified to assist others.
11. Why is it important for the overseer to be a good example to the congregation?
11 Never should a servant lord it over those who are God’s inheritance. Rather, he is to be an example to the flock. (Matt. 23:8-11; 2 Cor. 1:24) It means that he is not one who merely tells others what to do, but he does it right along with them. Congregations usually reflect the servants. If the servants are zealous the congregation is alive. When they are indifferent the congregation too lacks vitality and shows little progress. It is therefore important that the overseers be keenly interested in their work. The New World society is rapidly and consistently moving ahead, and for one to qualify as an overseer it is mandatory that he too be progressive. Wisely, he does not run ahead of the organization, nor does he move so slowly that the organization moves ahead of him. He runs the race with endurance, keeping pace with the New World society.—Phil. 3:16; Heb. 12:1, 2.
12. What keeps one from being distracted by unimportant matters?
12 One who is mature in Christian growth has developed good perspective. He is not easily distracted from the truly important work at hand. “This is what I continue praying, that your love may abound yet more and more with accurate knowledge and full discernment, that you may make sure of the more important things, so that you may be flawless and not be stumbling others up to the day of Christ, and may be filled with righteous fruit which is through Jesus Christ, to God’s glory and praise.” (Phil. 1:9-11, NW) What are the really important things on which he centers his attention? Not hours listed on a report that is turned in; not the amount of literature placed. No, those things merely reflect the extent to which we appreciate the matters of greatest importance and have developed efficiency in explaining them to others.
13. On what truly important things should attention be centered, and how will this be reflected in our ministry?
13 The thing of greatest importance is the vindication of Jehovah’s name by his kingdom, and we are privileged to uphold his side of the issue by maintaining our integrity as we continue to witness to the truth. (Job 2:1-6; Prov. 27:11) Therefore, it is the main office of the overseer to help those in the congregation to be mindful to acknowledge Jehovah’s sovereignty and to magnify Him at all times, and he should turn the attention of all to Jehovah’s organization as the one arrangement for worship for his people. When one has keen appreciation of the fact that he is privileged to uphold Jehovah’s side of the great controversy by giving his devotion to Him and that true worship is not merely a convenience for man but is our service to God, then he sees in the correct light his relationship to the Living God. If we are moved by such appreciation of the more important things we can be sure that the fruit borne in our ministry will be a praise to the Father. If it is only a “widow’s mite” of an hour or two of Kingdom preaching a month offered by one who can do no more, it is pleasing to Jehovah. (Mark 12:41-44) On the other hand, if someone else who appreciates the issue could devote fifty hours a month in the field ministry or could improve his presentation of the truth, he would want to do it. Or, if he could arrange his affairs to be a full-time pioneer minister then accurate knowledge of the issue involved and deep-seated love would move him to praise God in that capacity.—2 Cor. 9:7.
14. (a) How may we show ourselves “ready to obey”? (b) What is needed if there is to be increase?
14 “The wisdom from above is . . . ready to obey.” (Jas. 3:17, NW) Moved by that wisdom, we too will be ready to obey. In fact, we should be so ready to obey that we would go out of our way to find out how to obey. Jehovah’s witnesses are well aware of the fact that the growth of the New World society is not due to any man. While one of them may plant the seed of truth found in God’s Word, and while another, responding to the counsel of the Bible to make return visits on sheeplike ones, cultivates, yet in the final analysis it is God who makes it grow. (1 Cor. 3:6) It is his holy spirit or active force that is needed if there is to be increase, and that spirit operates in conjunction with his Word and organization. That means that it is vital to hold fast to the written Word, to study it, to apply it, in order to show an increase.—Josh. 1:8.
15. How should instructions from the Society be received, and what should be done to see that they are fully applied?
15 So too with instructions from the “faithful and discreet slave,” whether sent in printed form or left in a written report by a circuit servant or someone else who is sent to represent the Watch Tower Society. Priests in ancient Israel actually memorized the instructions that governed their temple service so they would not fall short. And today overseers should learn well the instructions they receive from the Society, checking point by point to be sure they are all being applied locally. They will arrange for instructive and practical weekly service meetings that embody those instructions and that are molded to the circumstances of the local congregation so all will appreciate that they do apply to them. Even here he does not stop, because he is interested in seeing that every minister is applying the instructions. So he follows through by arranging for discussion of the points at the various service centers when the brothers meet for field service and he himself works along with them to help them to put into application what they have heard. Thus all are assisted to respond fully to the counsel from the organization on which Jehovah’s spirit operates. All will see the evidence of Jehovah’s blessing upon their ministry. All together will move ahead with the New World society. Overseers are not interested in their personal ministry alone; they keep an eye in personal interest on the welfare of their brothers.—Phil. 2:1-4, NW.
16. What good counsel did Paul give to Timothy, and how may we check our own progress?
16 The apostle Paul wrote in thought-provoking phrase to the young man 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) That counsel can be taken to heart by every one of us. Are you taking hold of the opportunities open to you as a servant of God? As a congregation publisher or full-time minister do you fully perform your ministry? Is progress manifest? Are you expanding your ministry and are you continually applying yourself so as to enlarge your theocratic capabilities to be of greater service in the New World society? Do you give 100-percent support to the theocratically appointed servants and do you personally take to heart all the counsel coming from the theocratic organization?
17. What counsel is here given for servants?
17 If you are a ministerial servant, one of the appointed servants to assist the congregation overseer, look well to your assignment. Shoulder the responsibility given you by the theocratic organization, not under compulsion, but willingly. Put your heart into your work because you delight to advance pure worship. To congregation, circuit, district and branch overseers, let it also be said, Give all diligence to live up to the high standards set out for you in the Bible. Always go to it for counsel. Hold fast to the theocratic organization. Listen to its counsel and right there in the instructions it issues constantly be on the alert to find ways to improve your service as overseers. Let your course be that of the apostle Paul, who could say to his brothers: “Become imitators of me, even as I am of Christ.” (1 Cor. 11:1, NW) Much has been entrusted to your care. Much will be required of you. But even now you may enter into the joy of the Master by faithful performance of your assignment.—Matt. 13:12.
18. What position in our lives should our theocratic assignments occupy?
18 There is no question about it. Jehovah is now equipping his New World society for life in the new world. Your purpose in life is to serve Jehovah. He has given you a happy privilege of service in his organization. So what would be more pleasing to God than for you to respond to his invitation to service and wholeheartedly mold your entire life around the service that he has entrusted to your care? There is a tremendous task to be performed right now, and it is being successfully accomplished with the blessing of Jehovah’s spirit. If you do your part well, it may be your portion to live everlastingly to oversee the interests of God in his new world.
I delight to do thy will, O my God: yea, thy law is within my heart.—Ps. 40:8.