Keeping Your Balance with Many Responsibilities
“Come to me, all you who are toiling and loaded down, and I will refresh you. 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.”—Matt. 11:28, 29.
1. What is it that brings satisfaction to man and to God?
WHEN food has been prepared with variety that results in a wholesome meal, how delightful it is to the taste buds of the mouth! When music flows together in smooth harmony, how pleasant it is to the ear! When colors blend to produce a beautiful landscape, real or on canvas, how the eye appreciates it! When man makes a machine, and its wheels and gears run with smooth balance, he is filled with deep satisfaction. When man keeps his balance while serving God under trying conditions requiring patience while others say God has forgotten man, his balance is backed up with courage. If inside the congregation of God’s people he chafes at the bit to improve organizational matters and is inclined to be impatient with the overseer of that congregation, yet continues giving full support and faithfully works at his assignment, not only will he be filled with deep satisfaction, but his God will be delighted with his service.
2, 3. Does physical balance come automatically, and what could interfere with balance?
2 But balance does not come easy. It takes time. It comes with steady growth. It comes by help from experienced, balanced older ones. That is why unsteady little babies grow up to be balanced adults, and inexperienced persons become dependable mature people.
3 The faculties and organs that enable man to gain physical balance must be protected if one expects to be in complete control. Overeating, excessive drinking, nagging anxiety, constant hunting for pleasure and greed for materialism will all play havoc with our physical balancing equipment.
4. What crowds in upon those serving God today, and what is it the tendency to conclude?
4 Yet what is one to do when faced with so many things to do all at the same time, and they crowd in upon us, demanding attention? Take for an example a mother with a family to care for. Cooking, housecleaning, washing and ironing. Why, that ironing takes hours to do. Letters to write. Teaching the children household duties. Shopping, trying to make ends meet. Daily reading of the Bible. Attending Bible study meetings with others who serve God. Yes, and then find time to visit neighbors and tell them about God’s Kingdom good news. Then do you say, “I just can’t do another thing”? Is there too much work in God’s organization today? Should we be urged to greater activity by the overseers in the congregation? Does much responsibility in congregation arrangements, plus caring for home and family interests, bring frustration and irritating tension along with it? Is serving God a demanding way of worship?
5, 6. (a) Who knows man’s abilities best? (b) Describe examples of balance that we may see every day.
5 But wait! There must be a solution. For Jehovah God the Creator made man, gave him these duties and still others so as to serve as his minister in the earth. Following the words written at Matthew 22:37, “You must love Jehovah your God with your whole heart and with your whole soul and with your whole mind,” is recognition by Christ Jesus of the love that man should have for self, but he does not stop there, but says, “You must love your neighbor as yourself.”
6 Observing creation, from the heavens to plants, animals, mountains, trees and seas, we see balance. No frustration but, as described in Psalm 104:24, “How many your works are, O Jehovah! All of them in wisdom you have made. The earth is full of your productions.” And yet creation, not interfered with, moves along with boundless energy, accomplishing amazing tasks, with ease and freedom that highly recommend balance.
7. (a) Explain what kinds of people are in God’s organization today. (b) How are they all able to progress to maturity?
7 Jehovah’s heavenly organization works; and when Jesus Christ was on the earth, he taught the earthly part how to work. Paul describes the kind of people responding to the benefits of the ransom in these words in Titus 2:13, 14: “Christ Jesus, who gave himself for us that by a ransom he might release us from every kind of lawlessness and cleanse for himself a people peculiarly his own, zealous for good works.” (1950 Edition) These people are further trained and urged along, as brought out at 1 Corinthians 15:58 by Paul: “Consequently, my beloved brothers, become steadfast, unmovable, always having plenty to do in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in connection with the Lord.” The application of this counsel fills the congregations today with activity, with variety, and, most importantly, with Jehovah’s spirit. Even as children vary in progress, so do Christian ministers; and, with plenty of work, those able to progress more rapidly can do so and increase the amount of praise to Jehovah. Would you want the entire earthly organization to slow down because you cannot keep up with everything? No, of course not. Even as you recognize that you have limited capacities, you want others to have the opportunity to enjoy life more fully in God’s new order of things. Persons with greater abilities as well as those with limited abilities must be trained to serve Jehovah with all they have. So while one person might not be able to do as much as another, the work is there so others can go ahead and progress to maturity, and the slower ones are happy to see Jehovah’s work accomplished to a greater extent by those as well as themselves. Today the organization has the tremendous work of preaching the good news of the Kingdom earth wide (Matt. 24:14), and this is being done in an atmosphere of continual urgency, amid changing, moving and unsettled conditions. By reading the 1966 Yearbook of Jehovah’s Witnesses you will readily see how well balanced the organization is under this pressure.
FAITH PRODUCES BALANCE
8. What is the basis for balance, and how does Matthew 13:22 warn us of dangers that threaten balance?
8 After speaking of critical times hard to deal with, God’s Word advises: “You, though, keep your senses in all things, suffer evil, do the work of an evangelizer, fully accomplish your ministry.” (2 Tim. 4:5) To care for all the responsibilities you have requires balance. This must be settled on a solid foundation. You find this described at Psalm 62:7, 8: “Upon God are my salvation and my glory. My strong rock, my refuge is in God. Trust in him at all times, O people. Before him pour out your heart. God is a refuge for us.” Faith, trusting Jehovah, and a daily study of his Word produce balance. “Form a longing for the unadulterated milk belonging to the word, that through it you may grow to salvation.” (1 Pet. 2:2) However, to bring the desired results, study periods whether in groups or privately must be free of anxiety. Distracting pursuits, or trying to study and do something else, will choke the word and bring on panic rather than balance. (Matt. 13:22) You can find many examples of unsettled people today as they switch from one job to another. A person may get all enthused over a new project, just get to understand it, and then change to another fascination, and, in many cases, not building his activity around his dedication to Jehovah. Some may spend so much time on pleasures that they wear themselves out physically and allow little strength and time for Scriptural responsibilities. They are tense and in an upset condition rather than being balanced.
9. Describe the attitude of balanced ministers, and Scriptural counsel advises what course to follow?
9 Balanced people are steady and dependable. They grow a little each day—“with the growth that God gives.” (Col. 2:19) As a child’s daily growth is barely visible to its parents, so ministers of God make such progress slowly. Yet it may be too slow to suit us and we become discouraged. Because of time limitations and having to divide our time to care for family responsibilities, or because of slowing up in age, or maybe not being as capable as others who are quick to grasp ideas, we may become exasperated. We may become very hard on ourselves, not being reasonable with ourselves and expecting more than we have to give and yet care for other duties. Proverbs 11:17 offers this steadying advice: “A man of loving-kindness is dealing rewardingly with his own soul, but the cruel person is bringing ostracism upon his own organism.” This same reasonableness displayed to others will help them maintain their balance as well as assist you in working on yours. Paul says: “Let your reasonableness become known to all men.”—Phil. 4:5.
10. Apply Philippians 1:10 to balance, and what should one avoid if one is to be free of frustration?
10 In order to develop the ability to spend some time on all your responsibilities, you will have to come face to face with the fact stated in Philippians 1:10: “Make sure of the more important things.” As a minister of God you will use the Bible to help you list these most important things first. It will help you to divide needs from wants. It will eliminate tension-producing activities that steal time from those things we want to do. Galatians 5:19-21 lists some monstrous breeders of tension, such as loose conduct, hatreds, fits of anger, envies and many other things. When possible, get ahead and gain needed time for the right things, or for emergencies and additional assignments that come up in your life. Do not take it easy doing wrong things when you can invest time that later will bring rich dividends.
11. What is essential to individuals desirous of maintaining balance?
11 Maintain balance by going to Jehovah God every day in prayer. Not just when you are with a group and someone else represents you should you pray, but you should personally talk to your Father, Jehovah God. This is the same God that protects the balance of the entire universe. Think of the confidence you can have in turning to him for protection. Jehovah through his word at Philippians 4:6, 7 invites you to take advantage of this provision: “Do not be anxious over anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication along with thanksgiving let your petitions be made known to God; and the peace of God that excels all thought will guard your hearts and your mental powers by means of Christ Jesus.”
BALANCED MINISTERS ENJOY THEIR FAMILIES
12. (a) Congregation overseers may have what responsibilities? (b) Which comes first, and with what effect on the family?
12 There are 24,158 congregation overseers in Jehovah’s organization today. The majority of these have two responsibilities. Many times these brothers have to stop and remind themselves what comes first. Is it the family? Or will it be the congregation? Since one can be easily swayed off balance here, it is wise to let God’s Word give advice. Chapter three of First Timothy sets forth requirements for overseers, and at 1 Ti 3 verse four it says he should be “a man presiding over his own household in a fine manner, having children in subjection with all seriousness.” First Timothy 5:8 adds still more pointed directions: “Certainly if anyone does not provide for those who are his own, and especially for those who are members of his household, he has disowned the faith and is worse than a person without faith.” So he views his family as his principal obligation. He cares for many things, teaches his family how to study, conducts a family Bible study, trains them in the ministry, supplies food, clothing, shelter and medical care, gives assistance in schoolwork and provides for upbuilding vacations and relaxation. Think of how fortunate such a family is to have this family head set the example for them daily. Here love of the family, love of the truth, plus love of Jehovah, add up to certain happiness in such a balanced family. How contented is the family with a balanced husband in full charge! It is like riding in an automobile with a careful driver, one that has balanced control at all times; you feel so safe that you can relax and enjoy every minute of the ride.
13, 14. Wise overseers adopt what method in both family life and congregation activity?
13 But the family head cannot do everything. So he trains members of the family to share responsibility. At first it may not be done as well as father does it, but in time the trained helper may even do better. Children taught responsibility at an early age grow into useful ministers for Jehovah.
14 The requirements for such a father are the same as those for a congregation overseer. There is actually only one difference and that is the size of the family; so instead of four or five in a family he now has fifty or a hundred. He will be concerned for each one of them and do as Galatians 6:2 directs: “Go on carrying the burdens [troublesome things, footnote, 1950 edition] of one another, and thus fulfill the law of the Christ.” Here again he cannot do everything himself and so he wisely trains others to share responsibility. He helps those in the congregation to help themselves.
15. How are dedicated ministers trained to care for congregation duties?
15 Balance reaches to the congregation too, and the overseer arranges for the congregation to have a share in all the activity going on in the organization. He cannot have the attitude, “If you want it done right, do it yourself.” You as the overseer may never get to it. You may be an expert and most efficient, but you cannot do everything. So why not let another brother work at it and become more able at it with his time and your patience? Babies would never walk or eat unless trained and allowed to go ahead and work on it. To be sure, mistakes will be made, but balance yourself with a long-range viewpoint and reflect on what 2 Timothy 4:5 says: “Keep your senses in all things.” You will profit too by meditating on the course suggested at Exodus 18:17-27, where Moses was told he had “too big a load” to care for.
16. In what way is the congregation Scripturally encouraged to support the overseer?
16 Of course, support from the congregation is needed. The Bible urges everyone in the congregation to have respect for the overseer, not complaining or running out of patience because things are not being done as he or she would like. Overseers make mistakes. Oftentimes because they have so many things on their mind and so many weighty responsibilities to carry, they will forget things or not plan others carefully enough. It is easy to stand off at a distance and find flaws in the work of others. If you get close enough to get involved and help carry the load of responsibility you can be a blessing rather than a cause for sighing on the part of the overseer. “Be obedient to those who are taking the lead among you and be submissive, for they are keeping watch over your souls as those who will render an account; that they may do this with joy and not with sighing, for this would be damaging to you.”—Heb. 13:17.
BALANCED MATES VALUABLE
17. What basis would a dedicated wife have for managing a balanced home?
17 The family, being so close to the overseer, will have a lot to do with his work as he cares for both home family and the congregation. The wife as assistant home manager has a big job. When you add up the thousands of little things to be done, it seems like an unsurmountable mountain, and when God’s ministry brings further obligations you may feel it is too much. Please read of a balanced wife in Proverbs 31; not only could she care for many duties, and back her husband up, but, as Pr 31 verse 30 says, “the woman that fears Jehovah is the one that procures praise for herself.” Many duties require scheduling of time, not spending as much time as you like on one obligation, but taking all your work into consideration. This will enable you to find ways of improving your work with the limited time you have. There is preparing of meals, which contributes to the balance of the family and particularly of the husband, for, if he is a servant in the congregation, wholesome meals on time are really a blessing. She is the one who gets the children ready for meetings on time; in fact, by early training she has inculcated in their personality the importance of getting school homework and play out of the way to attend meetings regularly.
18. How can wives support their husbands in both family programs and congregation organization?
18 Mothers and wives must study to maintain spiritual balance, so ‘form a longing for the truth and grow.’ (1 Pet. 2:2) Support your husband in the family study program, making everything give way to its regular weekly operation. Keep your eye on the congregation’s program of activity and be quick to adjust your home arrangements to make room for all this balancing activity. Be greatly encouraged too in your accomplishment, even though you may not be told every day that you are valuable to your husband. Businessmen hire assistants to work for them and are glad to pay large salaries to men with insight, initiative and balance. You are worth more. Prove it. Husbands look forward to coming home to balanced wives and, more important, because, as Proverbs 18:22 says: “Has one found a good wife? One has found a good thing, and one gets good will from Jehovah.”
BIBLE STUDY GROUPS HELPED BY BALANCED MINISTER
19. (a) Explain the benefits of the book study. (b) How does a study conductor apply Philippians 2:4 to his work with the group?
19 Thousands of small groups of Jehovah’s witnesses meet in homes and other convenient places once a week to study the Bible, and several times during the week to share in the ministry of preaching the good news of God’s kingdom. (Matt. 24:14) These groups are small so that help can be given to build up balance and maturity. These are called congregation book studies, and the one having oversight is called a study conductor. These brothers have the same attitude as Paul tells of at 1 Thessalonians 2:7, 8: “We became gentle in the midst of you, as when a nursing mother cherishes her own children. So, having a tender affection for you, we were well pleased to impart to you, not only the good news of God, but also our own souls, because you became beloved to us.” There are many ways these book study conductors help those in their care. They teach them how to study. They train them in the ministry, going with them from house to house. They help them to attend the congregation meetings. In fact, they go to the homes of their brothers and help them to work out a practical schedule that will allow room for all these blessings as well as taking care of the family. If one in the group should get sick or meet with an accident or get spiritually sick, this same study conductor hurries over immediately to supply spiritual food and encouragement to make up for what is missed while the person is convalescing. He will assist the shut-in to share in the ministry in some way, helping maintain balance even in times of stress. This is the way it should be, for the Bible, at Philippians 2:4, puts it this way: “Keeping an eye, not in personal interest upon just your own matters, but also in personal interest upon those of the others.” Of course, this conductor must keep balance too and therefore will schedule his time to care for his family, enjoy personal study, attend meetings and share in all the activity the congregation has arranged. You will find, as a conductor, that you will get all these obligations taken care of if you do these things together with the other ministers in your group. Always remember the balancing counsel at Romans 15:2: “Let each of us please his neighbor in what is good for his upbuilding.” As a minister of Jehovah you have the privilege of being an example in balance before this group in every activity.
KNOW YOUR LIMIT
20. Why should we know our limitations? Does this mean we are hindered in serving Jehovah? What attitude should be ours?
20 To keep your balance you must know your limit. If you do not know your limit, then you are not very well acquainted with yourself. What capabilities do you have? You may have ability to do certain things but what you need is the training. Are you limited? You may have likes and may desire to do something that looks so interesting, but can you handle it? As a father you may want to pioneer full time in the ministry, but can you do it and take care of the family? Others may do it, yes, but their circumstances may be different. Rather than be carried off balance by enthusiasm, plan, train yourself and, even if you are not able to pioneer, you will enjoy blessings in being a dependable, balanced minister in the congregation. Remember, not all are needed in the same capacity. Do not become unbalanced in envying other brothers who may be more capable than you. Be thankful that Jehovah has qualified men to do the work and that brothers are available to improve the work, even if it means using them instead of you. Paul recorded Jehovah’s mind on the matter at 1 Timothy 6:6-8: “To be sure, it is a means of great gain, this godly devotion along with self-sufficiency. For we have brought nothing into the world, and neither can we carry anything out. So, having sustenance and covering, we shall be content with these things.” If you are willing, Jehovah can use you. You can be trained to do many things, and the longer you work in the organization the more useful you become. It will be a never-ending school of training. So be content with steady progress even if it is only a little. But keep trying. Jesus was satisfied with the widow’s mite; why not you?—Luke 21:1-4.
21. Summarize the essentials to balance in Jehovah’s service.
21 No one person can do everything. It takes more than one to manage a home, train children, care for a congregation or conduct a book study, and to preach the good news of God’s kingdom in your territory. Have some share in all these privileges available to you. Keep your balance by taking advantage of all the opportunities within your reach, Practice what is said at Philippians 3:16: “At any rate, to what extent we have made progress, let us go on walking orderly in this same routine.” Having in mind that balance comes from a well-protected heart and mind, guard it with daily study of God’s Word. Keep free of worry and needless anxiety. Grow steadily; be willing to do Jehovah’s work. Draw close to Jehovah in daily personal prayer. Appreciate him, trust him. In your schedule of your life’s activity provide for plenty of time to share in preaching the Kingdom good news, for that is at present the big thing in Christian lives. Make your determination the same as Psalm 109:30: “I shall laud Jehovah very much with my mouth, and in among many people I shall praise him.”
[Picture on page 296]
A father wisely trains his son to take responsibility
[Picture on page 297]
A wise overseer trains others to share the work