Blessings from Taking the Ministry Seriously
IF YOU are a true Christian minister, yours is a highly favored position. You have a firm basis for your faith in Jehovah God. You have also a bright hope for the future, God’s kingdom.—Heb. 11:6; Rev. 21:3, 4.
But how deep is your concern for those with whom it is your privilege to share these good things? Are you really interested in their eternal welfare? If you are, you will heed these instructions of Jesus Christ to his followers: “Go therefore and make disciples . . . teaching them to observe all the things I have commanded you.” And you will take seriously the Bible’s command: “Preach the word, be at it urgently in favorable season, in troublesome season.”—Matt. 28:19, 20; 2 Tim. 4:2.
SERIOUSNESS OF THE MINISTRY
Really, how vital is it that God’s servants share in this preaching and teaching work? Is it a work that a person can neglect and still gain God’s favor?
The Christian apostle Paul indicated the seriousness of the ministry when he encouraged his fellow worker Timothy: “Pay constant attention to yourself and to your teaching. Stay by these things, for by doing this you will save both yourself and those who listen to you.” The ministry is really that important! Sharing in it conscientiously can mean the difference between enjoying eternally the blessings of God’s kingdom, and being cut off from life forever.—1 Tim. 4:16.
Servants of Jehovah God today are in a position similar to that of God’s prophet Ezekiel some 2,500 years ago. Ezekiel served as a watchman to warn the people of Jehovah’s coming judgments. Thus God told him: “O son of man, a watchman is what I have made you to the house of Israel, and at my mouth you must hear the word and give them warning from me. When I say to someone wicked, ‘O wicked one, you will positively die!’ but you actually do not speak out to warn the wicked one from his way, he himself as a wicked one will die in his own error, but his blood I shall ask back at your own hand.”—Ezek. 33:7, 8.
Today Christians also have a warning work to do. They are commissioned by God to warn of the approaching “great tribulation” that will annihilate this entire system of things and those who remain a part of it. Thus lives are involved. Not only the lives of those who are warned are at stake, but also the lives of God’s own servants who are commissioned to give the warning.
So because of the seriousness of the matter, Christian ministers need to be thorough in their ministry. Are you? Do you really take your ministry seriously?
CALLING BACK ON NOT-AT-HOMES
Following the example of Jesus and his apostles, Christian ministers of Jehovah’s witnesses call on people at their homes. But what if no one is there? Would it really be taking the ministry seriously to forget persons living in those homes?
To find persons at home often involves calling at another time of the day. Why? Because as a matter of habit some people are not at home at certain times, such as is the case with those who may go to church every Sunday morning. So they will have to be reached on Sunday afternoons or at some other time of the week. If you are not in position to call at another time, you might arrange for a fellow minister to do so.
Illustrating the importance of trying to contact persons at every home is the case where no one was found at one house for three years. When finally someone was contacted it turned out to be a woman who had been waiting all that time for a Witness to call and resume the Bible study she had before moving to this particular place.
In another instance a Christian minister thought of neglecting a certain not-at-home because on previous calls the householder was strongly opposed to the Bible’s message. Nevertheless, the effort was made to call, and to the surprise of the minister a new family had moved into the house. The minister reports:
“She invited me in. I gave her the Bible sermon and she subscribed for the Awake! magazine. I was able to start a Bible study with her on this initial call. Within three weeks she was attending the meetings at the Kingdom Hall. After seeing the Society’s picture, ‘Proclaiming “Everlasting Good News,”’ she discerned that the Witnesses did indeed have the right understanding of God’s Word. She began sharing in preaching the good news of the Kingdom and within six months of my first call on this ‘not-at-home’ she symbolized her dedication to do Jehovah’s will by being baptized.”
Truly, many blessings have been enjoyed by Kingdom publishers who are thorough in their ministry. Can you see possibilities for contacting persons who previously were not at home?
MAKING RETURN VISITS
There is also the need to feel concern about calling back on all who manifest interest. The following true-life experience underscores the need to be persistent in trying to locate such persons.
A Christian minister placed two magazines with a young man who had just been discharged from the marines. He seemed to be searching for something better. Because of this the minister who placed the magazines with him made it a point to call back. But not finding him at home, after a few tries he scratched the name off his list.
Then one day at a semiannual circuit assembly of Jehovah’s witnesses this minister met the man with another minister who had found him and had brought him to the assembly. Because of similarity of age and of other interests it was decided that the first minister study the Bible with him.
The ex-marine made rapid progress and soon was sharing in the Christian ministry. Then one day, after the two had engaged in the house-to-house ministry, the minister was looking through his old records and found the name of this man scratched off his list as not interested because he had not found him at home after a few tries. And here he was, sitting alongside him, himself one of Jehovah’s witnesses!
Truly, this impressed upon the young minister the importance of not giving up in making return visits. Think of the blessing he almost missed of helping this person onto the road to everlasting life! Are you missing similar blessings by failing to be persistent in efforts to find persons who have shown interest?
Making a similar point—that persistence often is needed even when interested persons are found—is another true-life experience.
A minister placed two magazines with a family. Concerned, he made it a point to call back on them. On this call he was able to obtain a subscription for the Awake! magazine. By persisting in making return visits he was able, at the end of two months, to start a Bible study in their home. As the study began the parents asked the children to go to the next room so as not to disturb the study. However, the Christian minister, concerned for the spiritual welfare of the children also, suggested that they remain and join in the study; a suggestion greatly appreciated by the parents.
The minister further showed his concern by inviting the family to attend the meetings of the Witnesses at their Kingdom Hall. They readily accepted the invitation, and their attending these meetings resulted in their making still more progress. So it was that within six months of the time the study of the Bible was started with this family, both parents took their stand for Jehovah God and his kingdom and dedicated their lives to serve Jehovah and were baptized.
If you are a Christian minister, do you call back whenever interest is shown? Do you persist in efforts to start a Bible study? You may enjoy similar blessings if you do.
On the other hand, failure to make a return visit when one has said one would may cause real disappointment. Thus a minister placed two Bible study aids with a woman and promised to call back. But for some reason he failed to take his own word seriously. He may have felt that so often he had called back on others without finding any interest. However, be that as it may, it so happened that this woman was different. She was interested—so much so that she at once read the books.
Disappointed that the minister did not call back as he had promised, this woman wrote the publishers of the books, the Watch Tower Society, telling of her interest and requesting that someone call on her. The Society sent the letter to the congregation in whose assigned territory the householder lived. When the minister heard about the letter, and recognized that the woman was one of his calls, how did he feel? Well, he certainly saw the need to take his ministry more seriously!
And what about incidental witnessing—talking to people about God’s purposes wherever and whenever you happen to meet them in your daily course of life? Those who are alert to do this often have many outstanding joys and blessings. Thus a Puerto Rican missionary began witnessing to a college student while sharing a taxi ride with him. That incidental witness started the young man on the way to life. Today he is a servant in a congregation.
One day at her secular place of employment a Christian minister heard a woman say that socialism was the only answer to world problems. This gave the Witness an opportunity to tell the woman about the Kingdom hope she had. Soon these discussions at work led to a regular Bible study in the home. In a few months the woman began to witness to others and today she herself is a zealous Christian minister and so is her husband.
And then there was the very earnest Roman Catholic man in the broadcasting profession. He had spent four years studying advanced mathematics at a university, but at heart he was searching for Bible truth. One day he went to the office of one of the executives where he worked to ask some questions about certain statements this executive was supposed to have made. The executive happened to be one of Jehovah’s witnesses who had been doing some incidental witnessing, but who had been misquoted. He was glad to give this Roman Catholic searcher for truth the correct information. It was suggested that it would be best to discuss these things at home instead of on company time.
A few days later the man called again, asking the Witness when they could get together to discuss these things. Thus a call was arranged and several Bible study aids were placed with the man.
A week later he asked about attending one of the meetings, but since his workday began at four in the morning he was able to stay for just the first meeting, the Theocratic Ministry School. He found it so interesting, the students so confident and knowledgeable and the school servant so instructive that he could hardly believe his ears. When asked how he enjoyed it, he said: “I’ve never seen such friendly, confident people . . . even the children.”
He asked about the next meeting and was told it was Sunday morning. As the man’s wife was away for a few weeks, the Witness invited him for lunch after the meeting. The result was that they carried on a discussion from 2 to 11:30 p.m., during which time he also obtained more Bible study aids as well as the Yearbook of Jehovah’s Witnesses. He attended the Tuesday night and Thursday night congregational meetings during the following week, even taking part in them.
The next Sunday it was much the same—meetings and luncheon, followed by a study in the book The Truth That Leads to Eternal Life from 2 to 11:30. That Wednesday they completed the study in the Truth book, upon which he asked, “What prevents me from getting baptized?” It was suggested that he get in touch with the congregation overseer, which he did. He soon completed reading the books “Your Word Is a Lamp to My Foot” and Life Everlasting—in Freedom of the Sons of God. Within three weeks from when he began the study in the Truth book—not six months—he was baptized!
The person continues as a zealous Christian witness of Jehovah, averages from forty to sixty hours a month, mostly in door-to-door preaching. Because of the hours of his secular work he is able to take the lead in midweek witnessing. When his wife went away for a few weeks he had not begun studying. When she returned he was already a dedicated Christian minister of God, and waiting to be baptized. It was almost too much for her, but it was not many studies before she was telling her relatives about the wonderful things she had been learning from the Bible. Yes, what marvelous blessings can come from incidental witnessing!
So, if you are a Christian minister, take your ministry seriously. Try to reach all those who are not at home when you first call while going from house to house with the good news. Make return visits wherever persons show interest in God’s purposes. And do not overlook the many opportunities for incidental witnessing. Remember, he that sows bountifully will also reap bountifully.—2 Cor. 9:6.