Willingly Expand Your Ministry
1. Of what things are people afraid today?
LOOK about you today and what do you observe? What marks this world and its people? Fear! Yes, no matter whether you look at nations, communities, families or individuals, fear is prevalent everywhere. And of what are people afraid? They fear war. They fear insecurity. They fear hunger. They fear disease. They fear neighbors. They fear governments. They fear knowledge. They fear death.
2. How have some become free of this world’s fears, and what has brought about such freedom?
2 And yet how many people fear God? That is, fear to displease him so that they do not gain his approval, blessing and protection in these critical days. You say that such people are few and far between. In this you are right. But in reality there are hundreds of thousands of men, women and children who are rid of the fears of this world and who have an inspiring, wholesome purpose in life. How could this be? It is because these people love God, and perfect love casts fear outside. (1 John 4:18) What makes this group of people so different, so happy, so free? It is their dedication to the Most High God, Jehovah, and their having been baptized in public symbol of that dedication.
3. Was Jehovah pleased with the dedication and baptism of his Son? Why do you so answer?
3 As pointed out in the previous article, baptism is vitally necessary in order to consummate publicly the inward dedication of one’s life to serve the Creator, Jehovah God. One gets baptized to please God, not man. Was Jehovah the Father pleased with the baptism of his Son Jesus Christ? Let the divine record answer: “After being baptized Jesus immediately came up from the water; and, look! the heavens were opened up, and he saw descending like a dove God’s spirit coming upon him. Look! Also, there was a voice from the heavens that said: ‘This is my Son, the beloved, whom I have approved.’”—Matt. 3:16, 17.
4. (a) Following baptism, what did Jesus do that brought further divine approval? (b) What conclusion must we reach in this connection as Christians?
4 Following his baptism, what did this Son of God do that brought further divine approval? Of him the record states: “Jehovah’s spirit is upon me, because he anointed me to declare good news to the poor, he sent me forth to preach a release to the captives and a recovery of sight to the blind, to send the crushed ones away with a release, to preach Jehovah’s acceptable year.” (Luke 4:18, 19) Here we see the Son of God participating in the most ennobling of all human careers, the Christian ministry. As he preached the kingdom of God as the only hope for mankind, were the people impressed? Did they respond with appreciation? The record states: “They all began to give favorable witness about him and to marvel at the winsome words proceeding out of his mouth.” (Luke 4:22) Since Christ set the example for all Christians, does it not necessarily follow that all true Christians should also be ministers, public proclaimers of the good news of God’s kingdom? (1 Pet. 2:21) We cannot escape this conclusion as we read such Scriptural direction as that at Romans 10:10-15 and John 21:15-17.
5. In what way should Christians imitate Jesus? Explain what “willing” service is.
5 Not only should Christians want to copy the Master in his manner of teaching, but they should also want to imitate his mental disposition. Of him Jehovah’s Word prophetically spoke: “Here I have come, in the roll of the book it being written about me. To do your will, O my God, I have delighted, and your law is within my inward parts.” (Ps. 40:7, 8) Here, then, is the key to the matter. Jesus willingly did his Father’s bidding. His service was not done under compulsion or with reservation, but he was wholehearted, generous, and abundant in his giving. To be willing means “to be desirous, ready, prompt to do, give, grant, etc.; not slow, lazy, or reluctant.”
6. What did one church leader point out as greatly needed in religion today?
6 How unlike this description is the average church member today! On July 2, 1961, the late Dr. Robert J. McCracken told the congregation at Riverside Church in New York that “what is needed in the churches is more wholehearted commitment” and “men and women who are devoted, body, mind, and soul, to the service of God and their fellows.” McCracken pointed to Jesus as their example: “Nobody ever took Christ for granted. He was such a disturbing personality that the authorities had to liquidate Him. Real Christianity is always an explosive force. The little girl was wiser than she knew when she said about the Bible that it began with Genesis and ended with Revolutions. Few things are more to be lamented today than the dearth of initiative, enterprise, driving energy, creative resource in religion taken as a whole.”
7. In contrast to the general condition of spiritual apathy, how did a German church publication describe the work of Jehovah’s witnesses?
7 In contrast to the spiritual apathy described above, consider the zeal of dedicated Christians known as Jehovah’s witnesses. For example, the German church publication Gemeinschaftsgruss (Community Greeting) pointed to the failure of church members to work. It confessed: “We must be ashamed of ourselves because of whom? Because of Jehovah’s witnesses.” After describing how all of Jehovah’s witnesses are workers, it raised the question, ‘Is one who does not work actually a member of the congregation?’ It acknowledged that, “according to what the Bible says, he isn’t . . . Therefore we must shame ourselves before this sect. But this shame is only secondary. We must shame ourselves before God, that we have congregations everywhere calling themselves by his name, in which, however, only a few work. God’s name is thereby robbed of its holiness.”
WITH THE POWER OF REASON
8. What course would be dangerous for Christians today?
8 How vital it is, then, to do the works of God! (John 9:4) And yet, is this the sum of the matter? Should Christians be content with a minimum of service to God and, even temporarily, concentrate on expanding material aims and ambitions? While this may seem desirable for some, it is totally undesirable for dedicated Christians. Why? It is dangerous. The Bible counsels: “Consequently I entreat you by the compassions of God, brothers, to present your bodies a sacrifice living, holy, acceptable to God, a sacred service with your power of reason. And quit being fashioned after this system of things, but be transformed by making your mind over, that you may prove to yourselves the good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” (Rom. 12:1, 2) We cannot serve both God and Riches, Jesus said.—Matt. 6:24.
9. (a) Explain how one’s power of reason is employed in the expansion of ministerial capabilities. (b) Illustrate the benefits resulting from conducting home Bible studies.
9 Note, each one’s power of reason should be employed in making this transformation that will enable him to expand and grow in his ministerial capabilities. One definition of “reason” is: “Due exercise of the reasoning faculty. Right thinking.” Here, then, is the key to the matter. If one sincerely wants to be Christlike in his ministry and wants to progress in Christian stature and maturity, he will, of necessity, have to employ right thinking. It is largely a matter of putting first things first and placing the emphasis on the spiritual rather than the material. For example, many persons have taken in an accurate knowledge of Jehovah’s purposes in this time of the end. During the 1962 service year alone, Jehovah’s witnesses conducted 654,210 Bible studies each week, and some of these persons dedicated their lives to Jehovah to do the divine will. Think of the impact this personal Bible study can have on good soil, good hearts! The seeds of truth can germinate, grow, and finally develop fruitage. Persons once sullen or morose become happy and enthusiastic ministers of the good news. Those once indifferent or even lazy become energetic and trustworthy. Those formerly quick-tempered or even violent gain self-control and, in turn, self-respect. Yes, personal Bible study is a wholesome investment that pays rich dividends. But again, is this the end of the matter? Not at all! Christians are not trying to develop good personalities alone, for this would be a credit to them alone. Rather, they want to bring credit to Jehovah by giving him the sacrifice of their lips. (Heb. 13:15) That means being ministers that preach from house to house. They want to be useful to Jehovah in his ever-expanding New World society.
10. What should one do to gain spiritual maturity? How does Paul counsel on this point?
10 To this end, up until now, perhaps you have studied God’s Word and have already learned of His purposes for a new world of righteousness. Progressively, you may have learned many things, sufficient to persuade you to dedicate your life to Jehovah. If not, we encourage you to keep on taking in such knowledge in order that you may take this eventual step that leads to life. (John 17:3) Continue putting first things first. By all means and at all times place the spiritual above the material. Have a program for daily Bible reading and prepare well for all congregational meetings. Paul counsels all Christians: “For, indeed, although you ought to be teachers in view of the time, you again need someone to teach you from the beginning the elementary things of the sacred pronouncements of God; and you have become such as need milk, not solid food. For everyone that partakes of milk is unacquainted with the word of righteousness, for he is a babe. But solid food belongs to mature people, to those who through use have their perceptive powers trained to distinguish both right and wrong.” (Heb. 5:12-14) There it is! What fine instruction and encouragement to work for greater maturity! And what better time is there to start than right now? Surely, with Jehovah’s work expanding all over the earth in every country, there is a great need for effective teachers and ministers of the good news.
11. (a) What courses of instruction are available weekly? Where? Why are they so vital? (b) Give reasons showing the wisdom of regularly attending congregational meetings.
11 How, then, can we individually build to greater maturity and become effective teachers? In addition to personal study of the Bible we need the rich association of fellow Christians at all congregational meetings. Make it your firm resolve to attend regularly all the courses of instruction Jehovah provides for our training in the ministry. Actually, in each one of the 22,166 congregations of Jehovah’s witnesses throughout the world in 189 lands, there are five courses of instruction each week. These courses cover such subjects as a careful, progressive reading of the entire Bible, public speaking, how to participate effectively in public ministerial activity, and other related Biblical subjects; and they are all free. Never will a collection be taken. Indeed, these courses of instruction are spiritually upbuilding and strengthening in these critical days when the faith of all men is being sorely tested. (1 Pet. 1:7) Please consider this your personal invitation to be present at any one or all of these weekly meetings, if you are not already doing so. Paul said: “Let us consider one another to incite to love and fine works, not forsaking the gathering of ourselves together, as some have the custom, but encouraging one another, and all the more so as you behold the day drawing near.” (Heb. 10:24, 25) Notice the warning, the urgency, the love and the encouragement all included in his one exhortation from Jehovah. To profit regularly from the latest revealed truths from the Temple, flowing down through Jehovah’s channel-like organization, be sure to attend these meetings. And remember, too, those of you who are new in your association with the New World society, your presence does so much to enliven the congregation and inject new life into it. Yes, for compelling reasons we should form the good habit of regular meeting attendance, if we have not already done so. Growth to Christian maturity is thereby assured.
12. Why is “witnessing” so vital?
12 Additionally, as maturity and balance are gained, you will grow to appreciate the ministry more and more. What an unspeakable privilege and blessing it is to share the good news of God’s kingdom and bring comfort and hope to the hearts of those who sigh and groan over the detestable things they see done today! (Ezek. 9:4-6) That this witnessing is vital, please note what a New York minister, Ralph W. Sockman, said: “Until its members can testify to what their religion is doing for them, the church has failed to reach its full potential as a vital and vigorous institution.” He said: “We need those who can take the witness stand and testify to what is in their hearts. . . . Your religion never comes alive until you do something about it.” Sockman pointed to Jehovah’s witnesses as examples, observing, “They turn their faith into news. They tell what the living Christ has done for them personally.”
13. What privileges and rewards are afforded those who willingly represent Jehovah God as his ministers?
13 Yes, here in this vital work, in this sharing of the good news of God’s kingdom, we can follow in the footsteps of the Master, Christ Jesus. What higher vocation could one have? What greater privilege and responsibility could one enjoy than to be a minister of Jehovah God, even as Christ Jesus was? As one willingly participates in this rewarding work he is daily reminded of his complete dependence upon Jehovah God and the necessity of learning how to represent the greatest personage in the universe most effectively. And remember the assuring words offered by David: “Jehovah is aware of the days of the faultless ones, and their very inheritance will continue even to time indefinite. They will not be ashamed in the time of calamity, and in the days of famine they will be satisfied.” David further said: “A young man I used to be, I have also grown old, and yet I have not seen anyone righteous left entirely, nor his offspring looking for bread.”—Ps. 37:18, 19, 25.
14, 15. Outline Paul’s view of the ministry.
14 As public proclaimers of the good news willingly expand their ministerial efforts, they are reminded of the words of the apostle Paul: “But I am remaining at Ephesus until the festival of Pentecost; for a large door that leads to activity has been opened to me.” (1 Cor. 16:8, 9) Indeed, after dedication and baptism, much responsibility requiring activity was placed squarely upon the shoulders of the apostle Paul. But he carried it well and found great joy in his work. He said: “There is more happiness in giving than there is in receiving.” (Acts 20:35) And give he did, right down to the very last. Are you willing to offer yourself in connection with the preaching of the good news of God’s kingdom? Are you ready to walk through the open door that leads to activity, even as Paul did?
15 In order to please God we will want to share willingly our knowledge of the Kingdom with others. In this connection we can certainly profit from the counsel Paul gave the early Christians at Rome: “Since, then, we have gifts differing according to the undeserved kindness given to us, whether prophecy, let us prophesy according to the faith proportioned to us; or a ministry, let us be at this ministry; or he that teaches, let him be at his teaching; or he that exhorts, let him be at his exhortation; he that distributes, let him do it with liberality; he that presides, let him do it in real earnest; he that shows mercy, let him do it with cheerfulness.”—Rom. 12:6-8.
16. Describe what helps greatly in growth to maturity. What benefits result to the cultivator of this fruitage?
16 Armed with this mental disposition, we can appreciatively and faithfully fulfill our dedication vows. Yes, to be baptized, one must be clean morally and spiritually. To remain in Jehovah’s favor we must remain clean in word and in deed. Never should we bring reproach upon the name of Jehovah or his organization. Constantly, therefore, ministers of God should think about growing to maturity; and a great help in that right direction is the cultivating of the fruitage of the spirit. (Gal. 5:22, 23) What is meant by this? These qualities (fruits of the spirit of God) are love, joy, peace, long-suffering, kindness, goodness, faith, mildness and self-control. Constantly after baptism each one should examine himself to see what progress he is making in the development of this fruitage. There should be progress, even if we may think it is slow. And even if the progress is really slow, it is still of paramount importance that we individually grow to maturity and progress in spiritual stature. Why? In order that we may, with Jehovah’s help, stave off the inroads of the Devil in these critical days before Armageddon.
17. (a) Outline the role Jehovah’s organization plays in aiding us to do the divine will. (b) In what ways should we show respect for Jehovah’s organization?
17 Something else that is of great assistance in doing the divine will is the organization that Jehovah has provided for the direction and benefit of his people and persons of goodwill. What we have learned has not been on our own. There is a teacher! Jesus said: “It is written in the Prophets, ‘And they will all be taught by Jehovah.’” (John 6:45; Isa. 54:13) We have gained all this knowledge through the arrangement Jehovah is pleased to use at the present time, namely, through his anointed spirit-begotten witnesses, comprising the “faithful and discreet slave” class described by Jesus at Matthew 24:45-47. This slave class has used the Watch Tower Society as its legal instrument since 1884, and the chief publication of dissemination of Bible truth since 1879 has been The Watchtower. It is so even to this day. Develop deep respect for this arrangement, for this is pleasing in the eyes of Jehovah. (Heb. 12:9) This respect should be not only for the organization itself but also for those whom Jehovah has placed in positions of responsibility within the organizational structure. We should trust our proved, faithful brothers and appreciate the hard work they are doing, for truly they are responsible for our souls.—Heb. 13:17.
18. (a) What does a good example do for the many new ones associating? (b) Explain why Christian endurance must be developed.
18 Not only will growth to maturity bring you many blessings, much joy and happiness, but think of the example it will set for all those who are daily coming into the organization at such a rapid rate at the present time. Nothing is quite so inspirational to men of goodwill toward God as the example of those who have unreservedly given themselves in Christian dedication and baptism and who are holding fast to the way of integrity in the strength and power of Jehovah. (Matt. 5:16) Your sticking close to Jehovah, praying daily for his blessing and direction, working diligently with and under the direction of his organization will help you to avoid lapsing into inactivity and losing out on the blessing of life. Once you have started in the way of life you must pursue it and work constantly for the prize. We must never grow weary in well-doing, but, to the contrary, increase our joy and think of ways in which we can willingly expand our ministry.—1 Cor. 9:24; Rev. 2:10.
19, 20. (a) Describe ways in which Christians can willingly expand their ministry. (b) What rewards are there for those who remain faithful?
19 Can you willingly expand your ministry to become a regular proclaimer of the good news, preaching three to four hours in ministerial activity every month? Can you willingly expand your ministry to the point where, after declaring the good news in the house-to-house work, you will make return visits on interested persons and conduct Bible studies with them? Can you willingly expand your ministry to the extent that you will be spending ten hours each month in ministerial activity? Can you willingly expand your ministry of praise and recommend yourself by your fine works so that you might even qualify to be used as an overseer of God’s flock in due time, or a ministerial assistant, as the need arises? Remember, Paul said: “If any man is reaching out for an office of overseer, he is desirous of a fine work.”—1 Tim. 3:1.
20 Many are the ways in which we can willingly expand our ministry, and many are the blessings that Jehovah has for his dedicated people. Just think of the new world of righteousness he has promised to those who do his will! But even now may we ever appreciate the full significance of Christian dedication and baptism by dispelling the fears of this world and by being living examples of Christian strength and endurance. Not only will we have a wholesome and inspiring purpose in life, but contentment, satisfaction and happiness are gained by us right now. So, taste and see that Jehovah is good, for his blessing is upon those who remain faithful to him in these critical pre-Armageddon days when each one of us will want to expand his ministry willingly.—Rev. 21:1-5; Ps. 110:3.