Patience in the Ministry with Regularity
THAT the Christian ministry requires patient perseverance is very apparent from the report in the 1962 Yearbook of Jehovah’s Witnesses. There it shows that, on the average, in 175 lands outside the Iron Curtain countries, for each additional person who began to have a regular share in witnessing, 2,940 hours had been devoted to the field ministry by Jehovah’s witnesses. No question about their heeding the wise counsel of the disciple James: “You too exercise patience; make your hearts firm, because the presence of the Lord has drawn close.”—Jas. 5:8.a
Of course, regarding patience the greatest example of all is furnished by none other than Jehovah God himself. What patience he has shown with erring human creatures, with those living before the Flood, with the nation of Israel and since with those of Christendom! He is “slow to anger,” and “with much long-suffering” he has tolerated “vessels of wrath made fit for destruction.”—Ex. 34:6; Rom. 9:22.
Second only to God’s example of patience is that furnished by his Son, Jesus Christ. Lovingly he manifested patience, particularly in dealing with his disciples. He did not get discouraged even though on the last night of his human ministry his followers all deserted him. And what patience it took for him to wait, after being seated at the right hand of his Father, A.D. 33, until his Father’s time for him to act against the defamer of Jehovah’s name, which time first came, as shown by Bible prophecy and chronology, in 1914!—Ps. 110:1; Rev. 12:5-9.
Another example of patience that Christian ministers do well to note is that of the farmer, even as called to our attention by the disciple James. A farmer cannot hasten his crops but must cooperate with the laws of nature. He sows the seed and then can water, weed and hoe, but he must wait for the plants to grow. He cannot do much about hurrying the crop; at best he can only work toward its being as fine as possible.—Jas. 5:7.
Patience is needed by all Christian ministers. It takes patience to continue in the ministry in unfavorable season, be that due to legal restraints, opposition from one’s family, inclement weather or poor health. It also takes patience to continue in the face of the snares of materialism and other inducements offered by Satan’s world.—2 Tim. 4:2; 1 John 2:15-17.
As Jesus showed in his illustration of the sower, not all seed falls on fine and good soil. So the Christian minister should not get discouraged simply because some of his seed falls by the wayside and is picked up by Satan and his agents, or because some seems to prosper for a while only to have it wither from persecution because of being sown on rocky soil, or choked out by materialism because of falling among the thorns. Jesus had the same experience. The thing to do is to keep on sowing and planting, watering and cultivating, confident that Jehovah will make some of it grow.—Luke 8:5-15; 1 Cor. 3:6.
Closely related to patience and likewise essential to producing fruitage in the ministry is regularity. What kind of harvest could a farmer who was spasmodic in caring for his crops expect to have, a farmer who worked only when it suited his convenience or when he had the inclination? So also in the Christian ministry. It takes regularity. It means setting a goal to share in the Kingdom witness regularly each week, at least ten hours each month—in the distribution of Bible magazines, in the house-to-house preaching with the Bible and especially in regularly conducting Bible studies with persons of goodwill in their homes.
To bear Kingdom fruit Christian ministers must exercise patience with regularity. That requires not only zeal but also the other fruits of the spirit, as Peter shows: “Supply to your faith virtue, to your virtue knowledge, to your knowledge self-control, to your self-control endurance, to your endurance godly devotion, to your godly devotion brotherly affection, to your brotherly affection love. For if these things exist in you and overflow, they will prevent you from being either inactive or unfruitful regarding the accurate knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.”—2 Pet. 1:5-8.
Yes, patience in the ministry with regularity will result in more praise to Jehovah God and in saving both the Christian minister and those who listen to him.—1 Tim. 4:16.
a For details see The Watchtower, April 1, 1961.