How Can You Find Joy in Personal Study?
DO YOU find personal study enjoyable? Or do you consider it unpleasant work that you try to avoid?
Many persons who now enjoy personal study did not at one time. But they cultivated the ability to enjoy it. Most persons can do the same if they want to.
How? If you are a person who does not find joy in personal study now, what steps can you take to work toward that end? And by personal study, we mean that which you would do by yourself, apart from group or family studies.
The first step in cultivating joy in personal study is perhaps the most important. It is having the proper motivation, having strong reasons why you should study. This will build up in you a desire to study. In this regard the book Effective Study notes of its study suggestions: “It has been found that the student must sincerely desire to improve his study skills before these projects can be of much assistance. Mere exposure to such a program will not help him.”
If someone told you to dig a deep hole in the ground, but that you definitely would not find anything of value, would you enjoy the digging? But what if you were guaranteed to find all the gold and silver needed to assure you financial security? Your digging would be much more enjoyable because you would know it would be rewarding. You would have real motivation for digging.
Then what about the riches that Jehovah God has promised? He has promised: “The righteous themselves will possess the earth, and they will reside forever upon it.” “They will indeed find their exquisite delight in the abundance of peace.” “And he will wipe out every tear from their eyes, and death will be no more, neither will mourning nor outcry nor pain be any more.”—Ps. 37:11, 29; Rev. 21:4.
Such riches are far greater than anything that gold or silver can buy. No effort you could exert would bring such great rewards as does a study of the Creator in his own Word, the Holy Bible. As Jesus said: “This means everlasting life, their taking in knowledge of you, the only true God, and of the one whom you sent forth, Jesus Christ.”—John 17:3.
How diligent should you be in this search, since the rewards are so great? God’s Word answers: “If, moreover, you call out for understanding itself and you give forth your voice for discernment itself, if you keep seeking for it as for silver, and as for hid treasures you keep searching for it, in that case you will understand the fear of Jehovah, and you will find the very knowledge of God.”—Prov. 2:3-5.
Appreciate, too, that God’s new order is already in the making. The government of God for controlling all the earth is now in operation. The future inhabitants of that paradise are now being gathered. Instructions for the changeover to the new order’s way of life are now being studied and applied. Thus, what a person now studies of God’s will is of permanent value to him.
You need to appreciate, too, that if you are making progress in true Christianity great changes for the good have likely taken place in your life already. How have these come about? By your study of God’s Word. But there is much more that can be done. You can draw ever closer to Jehovah so you can better understand and appreciate his loving arrangements for obedient mankind.
“FINDING” TIME TO STUDY
Instead of picking up Bible publications at random, have in mind what it is you need to study. Plan definite times for the kind of study to be done. Then the time spent will be more productive. Without such a plan, it would be like a carpenter hammering nails at random with no objective in mind.
But when study is mentioned, many persons say: “Oh, if only I had more time to study. I just can’t seem to find the time!” In today’s busy world, you will not likely find time that is not already being used. You need to determine that your personal study related to God’s Word is so vital that you will take time from other activities.
First, analyze the time you devote to nonessential things. For example, if you have a television set, how much time do you spend watching it? How much time do you spend going to movies, making “small talk” over the phone, reading worldly magazines and books, or in other nonessential activities? If you actually wrote down the number of hours involved, you might be shocked to see how much time you really have.
This is not to say that proper recreation is wrong. Recreation adds to the enjoyment of life. But is such enjoyment so important that some of that time, if necessary, cannot be devoted to learning about Jehovah? Consider: How much closer to Jehovah will all that nonessential activity bring you?
Working for a living, keeping house, and such activities are considered among the “essential” things of life. Yet, not even these things, of themselves, will bring you closer to eternal life! Jesus said: “Man must live, not on bread alone, but on every utterance coming forth through Jehovah’s mouth.” (Matt. 4:4) Better to let the house stay undusted for one more hour or day—better to have less than the best food, clothing, and housing—than to give up our personal study of God’s Word.
What is needed is balance. “For everything there is an appointed time, even a time for every affair under the heavens.” (Eccl. 3:1) This certainly includes taking care of our families, our daily needs, and can include recreation as well. But it simply does not make sense to occupy all of one’s waking hours with other things and neglect something upon which eternal life in God’s new order depends. So take time for personal study. Be as determined in this as you would if your life depended upon it—because it does!
At the headquarters of the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society in Brooklyn, New York, as well as its other branches throughout the world, Monday evening is set aside as a study period. While it is group study, you can still imitate the pattern by setting aside similar time for yourself.
True, if you are not used to a good study schedule, you may find an evening, or even two hours beyond your capacity. Then, why not start with a lesser period, say a half hour? As you adjust to it you can lengthen the time so more is accomplished.
The key is not just setting the time aside, but sticking to it regularly. Let nothing but an emergency take you away from that period. If people call on the phone, you can say you are busy, and then call back later. If they want to visit, you can suggest another time. As others become aware that this is your time for personal study, they will respect it. So should members of your immediate family.
Then there are other periods that can be redeemed, such as when we ride a bus, subway or train, or are waiting for an appointment. Many use this time profitably to read articles in the Watchtower and Awake! magazines.
The most important reading, or study, that you can do is directly from God’s Word itself. “The word of God is alive and exerts power and is sharper than any two-edged sword.” (Heb. 4:12) By regularly taking in the powerful thoughts of God, you will be further motivated toward use of other Bible-study helps.
When can you arrange to use time for this Bible reading? You may feel: “Well, I’ll plan on an extra evening for that.” But such extra evenings for study have a way of not coming around. Why not set aside time for Bible reading every day, a few minutes each day?
Who recommends daily Bible reading? Jehovah does. He commanded Joshua: “This book of the law should not depart from your mouth, and you must in an undertone read in it day and night, in order that you may take care to do according to all that is written in it; for then you will make your way successful and then you will act wisely.”—Josh. 1:8.
The Bible commends the ancient Beroeans because “they received the word with the greatest eagerness of mind, carefully examining the Scriptures daily as to whether these things were so.” (Acts 17:11) Those people had a living to make, families to care for. But they set aside time daily to study God’s Word.
It is far better to have regular daily periods, even if short, to read the Bible than to wait for an entire evening that may never come. Even ten to fifteen minutes each day can be richly rewarding. Some make this Bible reading the first thing they do on arising in the morning. Others do this reading every night just before going to bed.
An average reader can cover at least two pages of the Bible in just five to ten minutes. If that is all the daily reading you were able to do, in less than five months you would cover the entire Christian Greek Scriptures! How richly rewarding that would be!
“In the way of your reminders I have exulted, just as over all other valuable things. With your orders I will concern myself, and I will look to your paths. For your statutes I shall show a fondness. I shall not forget your word. Uncover my eyes, that I may look at the wonderful things out of your law. . . . your reminders are what I am fond of, as men of my counsel.”—Ps. 119:14-16, 18, 24.