Keep Proving What You Are by Accepting Responsibility
“Go on carrying the burdens of one another, and thus fulfill the law of the Christ.”—Gal. 6:2
1, 2. (a) How does this world view responsibility? (b) In what way have Christendom’s leaders shirked their responsibility? Give proof.
A CONTRIBUTING cause of this world’s “critical times hard to deal with” is its continuing flight from responsibility. In every walk of life the trend is so prevalent that the world has coined a phrase, “passing the buck,” which means passing responsibility on to others instead of accepting it. In the family, parents flee the responsibility to teach and train their children properly. Therefore, children grow up like useless weeds. As a result, intelligent children, instead of accepting responsibility in the home and toward others in the family and community, turn into irresponsible and conscienceless delinquents.—2 Tim. 3:1.
2 Christendom’s leaders too have shirked their responsibility to teach the Bible truth to the more than eight hundred million churchgoers who support them and pay their salaries, so that church members feel no spiritual responsibility to serve the God they claim to worship. In fact, they are warned not even to try to defend the faith that they profess, so stated the New York Times, June 19, 1961, page 29. Further confirming this, clergyman Robert McCracken affirms that the “baseball fan knows more about baseball than church members know about Christianity.” Another cleric stated about members of his church, that “90 percent of them might be called religious illiterates!”
3. How have Jehovah’s witnesses witnessed this flight from responsibility in the course of their ministry?
3 Day after day Jehovah’s witnesses witness this flight from responsibility. How many times have they met persons who delight in the promises of God, who recognize the truth in the message of God’s Word brought to them, yet who refuse to have a Bible study in their homes because they dread the possible responsibility of becoming one of Jehovah’s witnesses. Again, others are like the stony or thorny ground about which Jesus spoke in his parable of the sower, where the seed prospers for a time but then withers or is choked out. When faced with responsibilities, such ones flee away and so let the seed of truth die out. In fact, even among dedicated Christians there are some who shrink from conducting a home Bible study with a person of good will, or who draw back from accepting added privileges of service, simply because it means too much responsibility.—Matt. 13:1-23.
4, 5. (a) Why is this no time to shirk responsibility? (b) What responsibility rests upon dedicated Christians?
4 With nearly forty-eight years of this world’s last days gone since that marked year of 1914, this is no time to yield to the world’s spirit of irresponsibility, but a time to resist the irresponsible spirit of this world. Becoming a dedicated Christian means responsibility, for such a person possesses knowledge—knowledge that is vital to the salvation of others. The disciple James says: “If one knows how to do what is right and yet does not do it, it is a sin for him.” (Jas. 4:17) Thus one who dedicates himself to God must carry out that dedication. He has a load of responsibility to discharge. “Whenever you vow a vow to God, do not hesitate to pay it, for there is no delight in the stupid ones. What you vow, pay.”—Eccl. 5:4.
5 When you as a Christian made a dedication to serve Jehovah, you did so out of love for God. Like the prophet Isaiah, you said: “Here I am! Send me.” (Isa. 6:8) Then you learned that one does not associate with Jehovah’s organization for years without taking progressive steps to grow to spiritual maturity. As stated by the apostle Paul: “Each one will carry his own load.” (Gal. 6:5) Therefore, we have an obligation to press on to maturity, to grow spiritually, to prepare ourselves for greater service, to become better teachers and to serve in Jehovah’s organization where we can best be used.
THE GREAT DEMAND
6, 7. (a) What demand and need is there that should move all to accept responsibility? (b) In what way does the growth in congregations increase the demand?
6 Today, a great crowd of the “desirable things of all the nations,” people of good will, are being gathered into Jehovah’s New World society. (Hag. 2:7) However, the ministers today qualified to teach and help these life-seekers are few, just as they were in the days of Jesus. Opportunities are plentiful for all new in God’s organization or old in it to assume greater responsibility. For example, there is a great need for more full-time pioneer ministers. And there is need for ministers to branch out to serve where the need to hear God’s truth is greater than in some home territories. In many parts of the United States and the world there is still no organized preaching of the good news. Workers are needed. Will you accept responsibility to preach in these parts?—Matt. 9:36-38.
7 And, too, consider the growing need for more and more mature ministers to take the oversight of the ministerial work as it grows by leaps and bounds. Last service year there were 21,557 congregations of Jehovah’s witnesses throughout the world, 549 more than the year before. Wonderful, yes! But there are hidden blessings too. Consider the service privileges that opened up for thousands of qualified ministers who possessed the necessary Scriptural qualifications. These new congregations required 549 congregation servants, 549 assistant congregation servants, 549 Bible study servants, and so on down the line. All together, more than four thousand servants were needed. Add about thirty new circuit servants and several district servants and you will see the great demand there is for qualified help at this time. Who are the dedicated, mature ministers that will accept the responsibilities in 1962, 1963, and in the years to come? Will you be one? Are you true to the expression you made to Jehovah at your dedication, when you said, “Here I am! Send me”?
PREPARING FOR AND ACCEPTING RESPONSIBILITY
8, 9. (a) What quality will help you to assume responsibility? (b) Why is it right to reach out for greater responsibility? (c) What should be our motive?
8 As we grow in love for Jehovah, we will not hold back from accepting responsibility. We will take the progressive view and not be content to stand still. All around us in Jehovah’s visible organization we can see so much work to be done. Will we help do it? Many dedicated ministers have accepted responsibility to serve at the Watch Tower Society’s Bethel homes and factories. Perhaps you can do this too.
9 Your love for God and his organization will make you want to reach out for greater responsibility. Not only is this proper, but the Scriptures encourage you to do so. The apostle Paul stated: “If any man is reaching out for an office of overseer, he is desirous of a fine work.” (1 Tim. 3:1) Certainly, since it is the right thing to do, then you should want to do it, but with a proper motive. Not by ambitiously pushing yourself forward in the organization and campaigning for a position, but humbly and joyfully offering whatever capabilities you have to advance New World interests.
10. In face of the great need for qualified help, what should be our aim?
10 Seeking advancement in the New World society is evidence of your love for Jehovah. It is also a sign of maturity. It shows that you appreciate the privileges before you. Since one cannot become an overseer unless he meets the requirements for overseers set out in the Bible, you will want to apply yourself consistently to meet these high standards. Then when the need arises for an overseer to be appointed, you will be in position to be used. There are dedicated ministers in practically every congregation who could qualify for greater privileges of service if they would but apply themselves. They should want with all sincerity to see Jehovah’s work accomplished, to his praise.
THE QUALIFICATIONS DESIRED
11. What qualifications must overseers meet?
11 As seen, there is a great need for dedicated ministers in the New World society, ministers of sound judgment, deep knowledge and love, men who possess the qualifications the Scriptures outline for overseers at 1 Timothy 3:1-7: “The overseer should therefore be irreprehensible, a husband of one wife, moderate in habits, sound in mind, orderly, hospitable, 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 fine manner, having children in subjection with all seriousness; . . . 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 fine testimony from people on the outside.”
12. How does one show one is reaching out for greater responsibility?
12 Preparing yourself for theocratic responsibilities, then, means that you must first become spiritually-minded, that you must place spiritual values above material values. You must feed your mind with things upbuilding by regular personal study and by attendance at all the congregation meetings. You must learn to work closely with the organization and learn the value of unity. You will want to gain valuable experience by working with mature ministers in the field ministry. You will set personal goals of achievement so that you will make constant improvement. Desire to deliver better sermons, work at the art of teaching, learn Scriptural arguments so that you will be able to overcome objections, learn how to explain the deep things of God. When you have reached one goal, set a new one. In that way you will make advancement and not stand still.—1 Tim. 4:15, 16.
13. What two qualities are essential, and why?
13 Never overlook such qualities as dependability and reliability. See that you develop these qualities in yourself. Do you make appointments and not keep them? Do you turn down assignments on the service meeting program or in the Theocratic Ministry School for no good reason at all? Do you sense the need for being dependable and reliable? Do what you are assigned to do. Work at it whole-souled as to Jehovah and he will bless you. (Col. 3:23) Do not feel that you are ready to advance unless you have cultivated these essential qualities in yourself.
YOUTHS, TOO, SHOULD ASSUME RESPONSIBILITY
14. What career have many youths chosen, and why is it the highest career?
14 Youthful ministers of Jehovah should not hold back from advancing toward greater responsibility. Many young persons today are choosing a variety of careers for which they are being trained. Others seem to pass through school without any particular career or goal in mind. But this should not be so with young people who have dedicated their lives to serve Jehovah God. By their dedication they have already chosen their career—the career of the ministry. Theirs is the highest career, for it is the only one that guarantees the reward of everlasting life!—John 5:24.
15, 16. (a) Against what should schoolchildren be on guard, and why? (b) In what way can parents be an encouragement to children?
15 If you have chosen the ministry as your career and your goal is fixed on accepting responsibility in the New World society, then you will want to beware of becoming overly involved in extracurricular school activities, such as sports and other activities that might involve you in potentially bad associations and stunt your Christian growth. These activities may keep you away from essential studies, meetings and ministerial service.
16 Parents who love their children and who want to see them alive in God’s new world will encourage and guide them toward goals of increased service and responsibility. To the young lad Timothy, Paul gave this advice: “Be training yourself with godly devotion as your aim. For bodily training is beneficial for a little; but godly devotion is beneficial for all things, as it holds promise of the life now and that which is to come.” He then adds: “Faithful and deserving of full acceptance is that statement.”—1 Tim. 4:7-9.
17. Why is the ministry a rewarding career?
17 Pursuing the responsible course of godly devotion is certainly the wise choice to make. There is no finer or more rewarding career. It is the course that will enable you to bear the fruitage of the holy spirit so essential to Christian maturity. It is a course that is not in vain, for “your labor is not in vain in connection with the Lord.”—1 Cor. 15:58; Gal. 5:22, 23.
OVERSEERS REACH OUT FOR GREATER RESPONSIBILITY
18. Why must overseers continue to grow in appreciation of their responsibility?
18 When anyone has been appointed an overseer or a ministerial servant in the Christian congregation on the basis of his spiritual qualifications, his growth should not stop there but continue to manifest itself. Paul counsels overseers: “Pay attention to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the holy spirit has appointed you overseers, to shepherd the congregation of God.” (Acts 20:28) Overseers must never lose sight of the precious responsibility that is theirs. They must, therefore, in their position of responsibility take the lead in Christian conduct, teaching, service and love.
19, 20. (a) How should overseers discharge their responsibility, according to Peter? (b) What counsel is given regarding aloofness and keeping the congregation warm and united in love?
19 As to the manner in which such responsibility should be discharged, the apostle Peter writes: “To the older men among you I give this exhortation, for I too am an older man like them and a witness of the sufferings of the Christ, a sharer even of the glory that is to be revealed: 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.” (1 Pet. 5:1-3) Shepherd God’s flock, the apostle says, but not under compulsion, not begrudgingly, as if you had to, as if you were being overly burdened, tied down with too much responsibility. Shepherd the flock lovingly, willingly, eagerly, joyfully.
20 Remember, the sheep belong to God. Then there is no reason for overseers to ‘lord it over those who are God’s inheritance,’ is there? Neither should any overseer feel himself too superior to be reached, thus making himself unapproachable. He must care for God’s sheep. How can he do it if he is aloof or too busy to be bothered with their problems or so interested in running a superefficient organization that he forgets the sheep entirely? If he desires to see his congregation warm, united, happy and fruitful, then Peter’s advice is: ‘Become an example to the flock’ in faith, in virtue, in knowledge, in self-control, in endurance, in godly devotion, in brotherly affection and in love.—1 Pet. 5:3; 2 Pet. 1:5-8.
DISCHARGE RESPONSIBILITY EFFECTIVELY
21, 22. (a) Why is an overseer’s task not an easy one? (b) To what dangers and responsibilities will an overseer be alert?
21 Fulfilling the responsibility of a shepherd of God’s flock is not a simple task. It requires much patience, strength and skill. Diligent study, an understanding of right principles and experience are all necessary. The shepherd must be alert and concerned for the welfare of the sheep. He must watch out for enemies, both those on the outside, such as false teachings and materialism, and those who might attempt to creep into the flock and attack it from the inside.
22 An overseer who is alert to his responsibility will be on the lookout for sheep that may be spiritually ill and give them tender care before their condition gets too serious. He will also be helpful to those having serious problems or difficult decisions to make. There are children in school who may know the right course to take, but in their immaturity they may be drawn away by worldly pursuits or by school associates. Overseers, be alert to their problems. Counsel them before they take the wrong step. Continually encourage them to keep a “tight grip on the word of life.” They will be eternally thankful to you for it.—Phil. 2:16.
23. (a) What is his moral responsibility to the congregation? (b) In what manner and spirit will he render his decisions?
23 Another responsibility of overseers is to be on the alert to see that the congregation remains clean. If any unprincipled persons come into the congregation seeking to snatch away any of Jehovah’s sheep, or if a person is guilty of committing overt immoral acts, then the overseer along with the other servants in the congregation committee must take steps to rid the congregation of their deteriorating influence, keeping it clean by disfellowshiping the guilty offender. But overseers must not be hasty, making snap decisions based on anger or irritation over an incident. They must be certain that they have the full facts to guide them in arriving at a just, Scriptural decision. They must be fair and unbiased, letting mercy, understanding and love play a heavy part in making a right judgment.—Gal. 6:1.
24. What counsel does Paul give overseers at Romans 15:1-3?
24 From these few examples it becomes very apparent that skillful shepherding requires maturity. To aid overseers to fulfill this most important responsibility, there are the recorded examples of Jesus and his apostles, as well as other faithful men. Overseers must love as Jesus did. They must be willing to help the spiritually sick, strengthen the feeble and encourage the weak. Paul says: “We, though, who are strong ought to bear the weaknesses of those not strong, and not to be pleasing ourselves. Let each of us please his neighbor in what is good for his upbuilding. For even Christ did not please himself.” This was done so that the congregation would grow in the way of love and life and that Jehovah would be glorified. Overseers today should want to copy these good examples.—Rom. 15:1-3.
ALL MUST SHOULDER RESPONSIBILITY
25. Why are overseers not the only ones charged with responsibility in the Christian congregation?
25 In God’s organization all must shoulder responsibility. You have a responsibility to learn and to apply the wonderful counsel of God. Regardless of where you may be privileged to serve, whether in a Bethel home, or as a missionary, or as a pioneer; whether you are a congregation overseer or an assistant servant, or a book-study conductor at a service center, you must accept your responsibility and fulfill it. But the counsel of God is not limited merely to overseers and those in special assignments; it applies to each and every one of God’s people with equal force. The requirements for life are the same for all. Those serving you are not in a different race for life. They are in the same race. Therefore, the responsibility to find the sheep of God, to feed and care for them in love, is the same for all.—John 21:15-17.
26. What admonition is given all dedicated ministers?
26 If you are a dedicated servant of God, then look well to your assignment! Shoulder your responsibility! Put your heart into your work. “Work at it whole-souled as to Jehovah, and not to men.” (Col. 3:23) Delight to advance pure worship. Hold fast to God’s Word and to his organization. Let your course be that of the apostle Paul, who said to his brothers: “Become imitators of me, even as I am of Christ.”—1 Cor. 11:1.
27. What are the rewards of accepting responsibility and shouldering it?
27 The result of each one’s accepting his responsibility will be a strong, effective organization of united worshipers, effectively guiding people of good will in the way of life. The one accepting and shouldering his responsibility has a special joy of knowing that he is doing God’s will, that he is ‘God’s fellow worker.’ There is also the satisfaction and the joy, the confidence and the faith in a lasting reward for a work well done, as can be felt in the words of Paul: “I have fought the fine fight, I have run the course to the finish, I have observed the faith. From this time on there is reserved for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will give me as a reward in that day, yet not only to me, but also to all those who have loved his manifestation.”—1 Cor. 3:6-9; 2 Tim. 4:7, 8.
28. What questions remain to be answered by all, and to what happy conclusion for having accepted responsibility?
28 Will you respond to greater service? Will you accept your responsibility? Will you mold your life around the ministry that God has entrusted to your care? Only you can answer those questions. There is much to do and the workers still are few. Do not draw back from your opportunities, from your responsibilities, and say, “Let someone else do it.” If you are qualified to accept responsibility, then respond whole-souled. If you feel inept, then build up yourself spiritually with the help of God’s Word, his spirit and his organization. Prove what kind of man you are by accepting responsibility, to Jehovah’s honor and to your own everlasting welfare, with the reward for you of life in his new world of righteousness.