Finding Happiness in Making Disciples
1. (a) Why is it important to be happy in one’s work? (b) What did Solomon say was a gift from God?
ARE you happy in your work? You should be. So much of your time, in fact, your lifetime, is devoted to your career or vocation, that life is only worthwhile if you are happy in it. On this point Solomon said: “I have come to know that there is nothing better for them than to rejoice and to do good during one’s life; and also that every man should eat and indeed drink and see good for all his hard work. It is the gift of God.” (Eccl. 3:12, 13) Yes, it was intended that a man should work and work hard. Not in drudgery was this to be, but in an occupation that he thoroughly enjoyed and in which there would be rich and satisfying rewards. What a blessing it would be to experience the fulfillment of this promise, finding a career to work at whole-souled, satisfied that he could find “nothing better” and from which he would indeed “see good”! Solomon describes this as “the gift of God.”
2. What is the purpose of this article as compared with the preceding one?
2 In our previous article we considered the work of making disciples that Jehovah’s witnesses are now engaged in on a worldwide scale. The pattern that Jesus Christ set in making disciples was reviewed and the concerted effort that the Witnesses are making today in completing the work was outlined. Now, however, we are concerned with the work from the individual minister’s standpoint. We will discuss the joy and happiness that come to the individual as he personally applies himself to that work.
3. How does work compare with play for making one happy?
3 What is it that makes a person really happy? Is it work or play? A proportion of play, certainly, for relaxation, change and exercise. But primarily it is work that brings happiness. Calvin Coolidge, thirtieth president of the United States, in his Acceptance Speech, July 27, 1920, said, “Work is not a curse, it is the prerogative of intelligence, the only means to manhood, and the measure of civilization. Savages do not work.”
4. (a) What was the attitude of Jesus toward work? (b) How does Jehovah feel about work, as shown in the assignment given Adam and Eve?
4 The Bible had made this same point before Coolidge did. Concerning the hard work that he himself engaged in Jesus Christ said: “My food is for me to do the will of him that sent me and to finish his work.” (John 4:34) It was work, not play that he delighted in. It was more nourishing and satisfying to him than literal food. When Adam and Eve were created and placed in the Garden of Eden, Jehovah arranged for activity that would make them satisfied and happy. “Further, God blessed them and God said to them: ‘Be fruitful and become many and fill the earth and subdue it, and have in subjection the fish of the sea and the flying creatures of the heavens and every living creature that is moving upon the earth.’” (Gen. 1:28) Showing that, although this would keep man working hard, yet the complete arrangement had God’s final approval, Genesis 1:31 says: “After that God saw everything he had made and, look! it was very good.” God knew that hard work would be good for man.
5. What kind of work is it that makes for true happiness?
5 But what kind of work is it that will make one happy? Albert Schweitzer, noted physicist and Nobel Prize winner, identified one of the requirements for satisfying work when he said: “Reverence for life . . . does not allow the scholar to live for his science alone, even if he is very useful to the community in so doing. It does not permit the artist to exist only for his art, even if he gives inspiration to many by its means. It refuses to let the business man imagine that he fulfills all legitimate demands in the course of his business activities. It demands from all that they should sacrifice a portion of their own lives for others.” (New York Times Magazine, January 9, 1955, celebrating Schweitzer’s 80th birthday) Count Tolstoi said, “The vocation of every man and woman is to serve other people.” Experience had taught these men that selfish striving at the expense of others brings no true satisfaction, but that work, lovingly performed in the interest of others, does. This is one requirement for a work that will make one happy.
6. What does the Bible say about working in behalf of others?
6 This aspect of work, too, is in agreement with Bible principles. The apostle Paul said: “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.’” (Acts 20:35) It is work done in behalf of others that brings real happiness.
7. Why, then, should the work of making disciples make one happy?
7 And how does the work of making disciples fulfill this requirement? Is there a work that would do more in behalf of another than teaching him the truth that will put him on the road to everlasting life? Hardly! Freeing men’s minds from ignorance and bondage to false ideas would be in their highest interests. “And so Jesus went on to say to the Jews that had believed him: ‘If you remain in my word, you are really my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.’”—John 8:31, 32.
HAPPINESS IN THE WORK ITSELF
8. Where does the work of making disciples begin, and why can one find happiness therein?
8 The work of making disciples begins with searching a territory thoroughly, looking for those who have a heart that inclines toward righteousness, an ear that is willing to listen and a mind that is willing to reason. This means going from door to door, speaking to each person you meet, no matter who he is, what his station in life or his religious faith is. At first glance it might appear that it would be difficult to find happiness in such work. Not at all. One so engaged is moved by the right motive, that of love. He has love for his neighbor, not wanting to see him lose out on everlasting life, if he has the love of righteousness mentioned. He has love for God, wanting to see His name cleared of all reproach that comes upon it by reason of ignorance of His purposes and opposition to it. Having this loving motive at heart, he will find happiness no matter if he does find indifference on the part of the majority of persons he meets.
9. (a) What reception does the minister often get, and how is this dealt with? (b) Following what counsel eliminates any feeling of frustration?
9 It is found that in many places it is impossible to arrange to sit down and talk for a few minutes and explain the purpose of the call. This is usually because minds are closed, either through prejudice or a real lack of interest in receiving a new idea. So the minister adjusts his mind to each separate situation that he encounters. If the one to whom he is speaking is obviously opposed and antagonistic, little time is wasted there. It is best to courteously withdraw and make another call. Jesus’ counsel for such occasions was: “Wherever anyone does not take you in or listen to your words, on going out of that house or that city shake the dust off your feet.” (Matt. 10:14) Following this excellent counsel eliminates any possible feeling of frustration on the part of the minister. Having done his best to present the good news in the most appealing way, he is satisfied to allow the matter to rest there. He shakes the dust from his feet and moves happily on his way. A fresh, new call now absorbs his interest.
10. How does having the right goal in mind help in making one happy in the door-to-door work?
10 If one had the wrong motive at heart or the wrong goal in mind in this initial searching work he could become very unhappy and frustrated. The well-balanced minister, however, keeps in mind that few, comparatively, will grasp wholeheartedly the opportunity to be a disciple, or even show mild interest in a better understanding of the Bible. Jesus Christ made this clear when he said: “Go in through the narrow gate; because broad and spacious is the road leading off into destruction, and many are the ones going in through it; whereas narrow is the gate and cramped the road leading off into life, and few are the ones finding it.” (Matt. 7:13, 14) Thus his goal is not that of converting the world, knowing that such is an impossibility. No, his goal is simply to find those who might listen. This means he knows what to expect in the territory and this allows for the right mental attitude, that of happiness in his work.
11. What feature of the discipling work brings greater joy, and why is this true?
11 The work of making disciples changes somewhat in nature when interested persons are located. If there are indications that these would appreciate enlarging their knowledge of Bible truth and would enjoy further discussions, then return calls are made. Now the reason for one’s happiness changes somewhat. As one devotes time to these who have shown an initial interest in the Kingdom message one’s happiness comes in feeding them greater portions of accurate Scriptural knowledge. While one finds joy in any feature of the discipling activity, yet to concentrate on aiding one who is interested in learning of his Creator and His works brings far greater joy. The motive of love, however, remains the same.
12. Why is there even greater happiness in the home Bible study work?
12 When the interest of this one is cultivated so that a regular home Bible study is started, then the happiness on the part of the minister increases even more. Generally, one hour at a specified time each week is set aside for this study. Each one knows the subject to be considered for the coming lesson and each prepares for it. A close bond of friendship and respect grows between teacher and pupil as time goes by and progress is made. There is a fine spirit of sharing that becomes apparent. This is according to the principle expressed at Galatians 6:6: “Moreover, let anyone who is being orally taught the word share in all good things with the one who gives such oral teaching.” These are precious hours of happiness together that will never be forgotten.
HAPPINESS IN PERSONAL PREPARATION
13. Should the servant of God expect to find happiness only in the direct discipling work, or what?
13 While there is no doubt that happiness in the work itself is there to be enjoyed, what about the other hours of one’s life when not thus actively engaged? Should one expect to find happiness only while working hard in the direct discipling work or should one expect to find happiness in all other aspects of one’s life as a dedicated minister of God? One should find it in all aspects of one’s life. One such aspect concerns his personal preparation for his ministerial work.
14. (a) How should one feel about skill, and how does this apply to teaching others Bible truths? (b) What opportunities are unlimited for the servant of God, and what goal should he have in this?
14 Teaching others Bible truth requires genuine skill. This, in fact, is one of the features of the work that makes for constant interest in it. Proverbs 22:29 says: “Have you beheld a man skillful in his work? Before kings is where he will station himself; he will not station himself before commonplace men.” This principle is especially applicable to servants of God. It is for this reason that 2 Timothy 2:15 says: “Do your utmost to present yourself approved to God, a workman with nothing to be ashamed of, handling the word of the truth aright.” The opportunities for increasing in Bible and related knowledge are unlimited and the opportunities for improving in the presentation of that knowledge to others, that is, “handling the word of the truth aright,” are likewise unlimited. The ideal goal to have in mind, of course, is copying Jesus Christ, concerning whom it was said: “Never has another man spoken like this.”—John 7:46.
15. How should one feel about scheduling time for personal study?
15 Those who are earnest in their endeavors to make constant improvement in their accurate knowledge and ability to present such to others have a schedule for personal study. These hours set aside for quiet, individual preparation and meditation are some that bring the sweetest joy and contentment. Some find these hours difficult to come by, but careful thought and rigid scheduling will find a way. Personal preparation is too necessary to take too lightly. Besides, it adds so much to one’s happiness.
HAPPINESS IN DEALING WITH OTHERS
16. (a) With regard to association, with what characteristic did God create man, but what do we find among people in this connection? (b) What questions can we ask ourselves with respect to dealing with others?
16 Happiness can be yours only if you are happy in being with others. Hermits are not happy, balanced persons. Humans are gregarious. They want to associate and live together, not be separated. This is a tendency that they were created with and that is a fine God-given quality. Yet, what do we find? People want to be together but cannot get along. Two young persons are madly in love when married but become cool toward each other shortly thereafter. Whole nations would like to live in peace with one another but find it more difficult to do so day by day. Foretelling the growth, in our day, of these undesirable characteristics, the apostle Paul said: “But know this, that in the last days critical times hard to deal with will be here. For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, self-assuming, haughty, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, disloyal, having no natural affection, not open to any agreement, slanderers, without self-control, fierce, without love of goodness, betrayers, headstrong, puffed up with pride, lovers of pleasures rather than lovers of God, having a form of godly devotion but proving false to its power; and from these turn away.” (2 Tim. 3:1-5) Obviously, those who develop these traits will not be happy, with themselves or in association with others. But will the grand work in which God’s servants are busy protect them from developing these traits? Will their work aid them to be happy and balanced in their dealings with all people no matter where they find it necessary to associate with them?
17. How will the qualities that one develops in the preaching and teaching work benefit him in his relationship with others?
17 Without a doubt. The fine motives and qualities that are developed in the Christian in searching for interested persons and then teaching them the truths of God’s Word cannot be sidetracked when he has other dealings with people. True servants of God do not have split personalities. If the Christian has a loving motive when he engages in the preaching and teaching work, then he will have a loving motive in all other dealings with people. He follows the counsel of the apostle Paul, recorded at Galatians 6:10: “Really, then, as long as we have time favorable for it, let us work what is good toward all, but especially toward those related to us in the faith.” How, then, can he help but be happy on other occasions in association with people? He cannot help but be.
18. In view of 1 Corinthians 15:33, how can one be happy in any association with outsiders?
18 But does not 1 Corinthians 15:33 say: “Do not be misled. Bad associations spoil useful habits”? Yes, and the statement is true. The Christian does not seek out associations of this kind. He limits his association as much as possible to those with like precious faith. But he is thrown in with others constantly in secular work and everyday affairs. Having the sure Kingdom hope as an anchor at all times, he is not tempted to copy the examples of these worldly persons. Rather, in such association he remembers that his life is dedicated to God and his service, and thus he is interested in the eternal welfare of any persons who might turn out to be interested in the good news. He is not interested in others for any selfish reason, but he is interested in them from a purely unselfish viewpoint. Thus, in any association, he has a positive, optimistic mental attitude and outlook. He can be happy in almost all associations with others.
‘NEVER GIVING UP’
19. (a) What counsel is given to those who start out in the work of making disciples? (b) Can one find happiness in this work year after year?
19 To those who start out in this work, the apostle Paul says: “So let us not give up in doing what is fine, for in due season we shall reap if we do not tire out.” (Gal. 6:9) You will say that that is fine admonition in addition to a fine reward that is held out. But can a person be happy in making a career out of the discipling work, that is, continuing in it year after year after year? By all means! In fact, those who have tried it find that their joy grows greater and richer with each passing year. Do you want proof that this is so? Then consider the life histories of some concerning whom all of this is true.
20. What does one Witness, who has made a career of the ministry, say about starting out in this work?
20 Here is a Witness who began his career in the ministry about forty years ago. He says: “I shall never forget the first time I went out in the service of the Most High God. It was a beautiful day in the Indian summer or autumn time of the year 1920 in Winnipeg, Canada. My brother and I were only distributing handbills, but the contentment and peace of mind I received from this slight service gave me assurance that the Almighty, unlike earthly masters. is well pleased with even imperfect and small services rendered toward him. Just as hearing the truth brings a certain joy and peace of mind, so the step of service brings a greater joy.
21. What does this Witness say was his experience as he enlarged his activity in his chosen career?
21 “When later I engaged in distributing literature from house to house, I experienced greater joys and blessings. From that day to this I have never been out in the house-to-house work without experiencing personal kindnesses from some, appreciation for Jehovah’s Word from others, and, above all, Jehovah’s blessing of peace of mind and contentment.”
22. After about forty years in the ministry, what does he say?
22 After serving faithfully as a full-time minister in Canada, the United States and in a foreign missionary assignment, he says, “The longer I enjoy this great privilege the more I thank Jehovah for being kinder than any other master could possibly be and for having kept me and guided me.”
23. What does another one who has made the ministry his lifework say about the start of his career?
23 Another who has devoted his whole life to the discipling work says: “Those who learn the grand truths of the Bible in childhood are indeed richly blessed. I have ever been thankful to my father for the devoted schooling he gave me, in my youngest years, concerning the great God, Jehovah, and His Kingdom purposes, and concerning the soul and the hope of life. My early life was spent in Christchurch, New Zealand. As a schoolboy I worked hard at my studies and won first place in the University Entrance Scholarship, a prize for which all of New Zealand’s colleges and high schools vie with one another. I was on my way to becoming an atomic scientist, but now materialistic, evolutionary thinking began to surround me, and I soon found this to be just as unreasoning and worthless as the clergy’s ‘hellfire’ teaching. The Bible began to exercise its full power in my life. Though I went on to take my master’s degree in science, I was devoting almost pioneer time to the ministry during most of my university days. I was often in the vacation pioneer service.”
24. What does he say about happiness and contentment after many years in a foreign assignment?
24 After joyful years in God’s service in New Zealand, Australia, the United States and Japan, he says: “Once I was able to visit my aging parents in New Zealand, and for this I was deeply thankful. It is now [twenty-seven] years since I left a happy, theocratic home to go wherever Jehovah would send me in his full-time service. Our family ties of love were strong, but stronger are the ties that bind us together in Kingdom service, even though in widely separated lands. It was a joy to find my parents as strong as ever in Kingdom service. However, New Zealand no longer seemed like home, nor did Australia. ‘Strange’ the way of life seemed ‘down under,’ compared with the life we had become accustomed to in Japan’s missionary field. Through this visit I truly came to appreciate that ‘home’ is wherever Jehovah assigns us in the realm of theocratic service.”
25. How did one member of the Brooklyn Bethel family begin his career as a minister, and how did he describe his many years in Jehovah’s service?
25 Another said: “Calitri, Italy, was my birthplace, in December, 1879. My devout parents had me baptized and later confirmed as a Roman Catholic. Little did we expect that at the age of [eighty-five], I would fondly look back at [fifty-nine] years as one of Jehovah’s witnesses.” In 1900 when he was twenty-one years of age he moved to the United States and came to a knowledge of the truth four years later. In 1909 he joined the headquarters staff of the Watchtower Society, to become a faithful, zealous servant of God thereafter. He further said: “Reviewing [fifty-nine] years spent in Jehovah’s service, I can truthfully say these have been the happiest years of my life. [Fifty-six] of them have been as a member of the Brooklyn Bethel family—a privilege of service I wholeheartedly recommend to any young Christian. To be sure, there have been some trials, but these increased our faith in Jehovah. I have never doubted that he is using the Society to direct the worldwide witness work that Jesus foretold at Matthew 24:14. As Paul said, any tribulations ‘do not amount to anything in comparison with the glory that is going be revealed to us.’”
26. How do many older members of the Bethel family feel about opportunities to associate with their brothers?
26 There are a number of such faithful servants of God who are on in years who continue their faithful service at this Brooklyn headquarters. In some instances they find it difficult to hear all that is said but they are never absent from a meeting. Though in many instances it takes great effort and at times loving assistance on the part of some of the younger ones, they never miss morning worship prior to breakfast, assemblies large and small, or their own congregational meetings, even though sometimes these are quite some distance and it is necessary to walk. Their joy in association with others who are interested in God’s works continues unabated.
27. What are some of the thoughts one should have in mind if he wants to find real happiness?
27 Yes, it is not play that makes one happy; it is hard work. But it has to be the right kind of work, that is, work done in behalf of others. No other work can fill that requirement like the work of making disciples of Jesus Christ. Not only will you be happy while engaged in the work itself, but you will be happy and content in all that you do. Yes, devoting your life to this work will have that effect on your whole life. Are you truly happy in your present work? If not, then you are probably in the wrong career. You should be finding happiness in making disciples.