Can You Enter the Open Door?
“I have set before you an opened door, which no one can shut.”—Rev. 3:8.
1. Why are grand opportunities for service still available in the Christian congregation?
THE command of Jesus Christ for his followers to preach and to make disciples is still vitally urgent. This is clear from his assurance: “Look! I am with you all the days until the conclusion of the system of things.” (Matt. 28:20) Hence, many grand opportunities for service are still to be enjoyed today as “this good news of the kingdom” continues to be preached vigorously from door to door. (Matt. 24:14) Also, due to the growth of the congregation of Jehovah’s Christian witnesses world wide, there is a great need for capable and willing workers to build up fellow believers and to render other vital services for the advancement of spiritual interests. Additionally, people everywhere need to hear the “good news” so that they can take a stand for it or against it before the execution of God’s righteous judgment upon the present ungodly world.
2. (a) Why is centralized, coordinated direction needed in the Christian congregation? (b) Through whom did the head of the congregation provide this direction in the first century C.E.?
2 To accomplish all that is necessary in an orderly way, obviously there must be some centralized, coordinated direction. (1 Cor. 14:33) In the first century C.E., the head of the congregation, Jesus Christ, provided this through the apostles and other elders of the Jerusalem congregation. Also, Paul, who had been directly chosen by the Lord Jesus Christ as an apostle to the nations, did much to build up the congregations spiritually. The manner in which Paul and his associates fulfilled their commission from Jesus to preach and make disciples was acknowledged as fully acceptable by the body of elders at Jerusalem.—Gal. 2:1-9.
3, 4. (a) Why are men associated with the publishing agency of Jehovah’s Witnesses rightly providing centralized, coordinated help for fellow believers world wide? (b) What is a prime responsibility of elders, and how has this been discharged by the governing body at Brooklyn Bethel?
3 What about today? Very early in the modern history of Jehovah’s Witnesses members of the oldest congregation came to be associated with their publishing agency, the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society. Today, living at “Bethel,” the hive of activity centered at the headquarters of the Watch Tower Society in Brooklyn, New York, there are over 250 persons who have energetically pursued spiritual interests for more than ten years. Many have done so far longer. They have spent a lifetime in faithful service to Jehovah God as devoted disciples of his Son. During this time they have gained a wealth of experience in Christian living and in helping fellow believers with their problems. They have also deepened their understanding of God’s Word. Among these are those dedicated men who constitute the governing body for the worldwide congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses. While there are many capable, experienced brothers elsewhere, at no one location on earth are so many elders available for immediate consultation. At Brooklyn Bethel, therefore, can be found an excellent representation of Christian knowledge and experience that have been gained up to this time by the worldwide congregation of God’s people. Much the same can be said regarding the smaller Bethel families associated with the branch offices of the Watch Tower Society in other parts of the earth.
4 Understandably, when elders in other congregations are faced with perplexing problems, they write to the Society or its branches for Scriptural assistance. At times Biblical answers provided would be of great benefit to all the congregations throughout the earth. When that is the case, as in the first century C.E., written material is prepared. Furthermore, since one of the prime responsibilities of elders is to teach, the central body of elders, through its committees, supervises the preparation and publication of information designed to provide spiritual instruction for persons both inside and outside the Christian congregation world wide.
5. What vital work is accomplished at Bethel, and why is every individual working there needed?
5 Manifestly a sizable staff is needed at Brooklyn to care for all the vital work of providing help and direction in furthering spiritual interests throughout the earth, including relief measures whenever necessary. While some are directly involved in preparing Biblical information or in directing what needs to be done for the association of brothers, all the others render important services that make it possible for this material to reach the ends of the earth. Many of those serving at Bethel, therefore, occupy a position comparable to that of Timothy, Mark and others who acted as attendants for elders in the first-century congregation. Without them, the governing body would find it very difficult to care for the spiritual interests of the congregations world wide.
6. (a) Why are especially young men needed at Bethel? (b) As illustrated in the case of Timothy, what should be expected of one who makes himself available for Bethel service?
6 Since much of the work done at Bethela requires physical strength and stamina, especially young men are needed. If you are a young man, have you ever given thought to making yourself available for hard manual labor in behalf of your spiritual brothers, as well as for those who might become such? Of course, it is not just a matter of being able and willing to serve. Spiritual qualifications are also involved. In the case of Timothy, for example, we read: “He was well reported on by the brothers in Lystra and Iconium.” (Acts 16:2) Yes, Timothy had proved himself to be a young man of fine reputation both in his home congregation, evidently in Lystra, and in the neighboring congregation in Iconium. By his words and actions he must have gained the respect and confidence of fellow believers. Though young, he was well grounded in the Scriptures, having been taught these from infancy by his mother and grandmother.—2 Tim. 3:14, 15.
7. (a) What evidently was the commendable attitude of the elders in Lystra and of Eunice respecting Timothy’s serving with Paul? (b) In connection with Bethel service, who today could benefit from this example, and why?
7 Young men with Timothy’s qualifications are certainly an asset to any congregation. Doubtless the brothers in Lystra very much appreciated what Timothy was able to do in their behalf. He must also have been a real source of encouragement to his mother Eunice, especially since his father was an unbeliever. Yet, when the apostle Paul expressed the desire that Timothy accompany him in his travels, the body of elders did not selfishly try to keep the young man in their congregation. No, these elders evidently joined the apostle in laying their hands upon Timothy, thereby setting him apart for special service. (Acts 16:3; 1 Tim. 4:14; 2 Tim. 1:6) So when qualified young men today desire to make themselves available for service at Bethel, it is indeed commendable when elders and believing family members encourage them and give them wholehearted support.
8. Why was Timothy’s special service with the apostle Paul demanding?
8 Though service at Bethel brings rich spiritual rewards, it is not easy. But neither was Timothy’s assignment an easy one. Besides working under the apostle Paul’s direction in advancing spiritual interests, Timothy apparently also labored with his hands to provide for his personal needs. (Compare 2 Corinthians 12:14-18; 1 Thessalonians 2:9; 2 Thessalonians 3:7, 8.) He shared the dangers and problems that the apostle described in his second letter to the Corinthians: “In journeys often, in dangers from rivers, in dangers, from highwaymen, in dangers from my own race, in dangers from the nations, in dangers in the city, in dangers in the wilderness, in dangers at sea, in dangers among false brothers, in labor and toil, in sleepless nights often, in hunger and thirst, in abstinence from food many times, in cold and nakedness.”—2 Cor. 11:26, 27.
9. What enabled Timothy to persevere in his special service instead of returning home to enjoy a more settled way of life?
9 Despite all of this, Timothy continued to labor in cooperation with Paul, not just for a short period, but for some fifteen years, yes, evidently until the apostle’s death as a martyr. What made it possible for Timothy to stick to the work rather than to return to his home congregation for a more settled way of life? It was his sincere desire to serve others regardless of the personal cost to himself. The apostle Paul could say respecting Timothy: “I have no one else of a disposition like his who will genuinely care for the things pertaining to you. For all the others are seeking their own interests, not those of Christ Jesus. But you know the proof he gave of himself, that like a child with a father he slaved with me in furtherance of the good news.” (Phil. 2:20-22) Furthermore, Timothy was humble, recognizing his own limitations. He did not capitalize on his association with Paul and proudly assert his authority. (Compare 1 Timothy 4:11-14; 2 Timothy 1:6, 7; 2:1.) Of course, through his laboring with the apostle, Timothy learned much and was eventually qualified to shoulder the responsibilities of an elder in the Christian congregation.
10. (a) As is evident from Timothy’s example, what qualities are essential for being happy in one’s serving in behalf of others? (b) What are the bad effects of pride, desire for prominence and selfishness, and what should one do when noticing a measure of these undesirable traits in some fellow believers?
10 As in the case of Timothy, humility, a spirit of self-sacrifice and an intense interest in the welfare of others are essential for happy service at Bethel or anywhere else in Jehovah’s organization. Wherever one may serve, pride, desire for prominence and selfishness not only diminish personal happiness but also make life unpleasant for others. Being imperfect, God’s servants have to continue to fight against these undesirable traits and they should not allow themselves to become overly disturbed by the noticeable failings of others in this respect. One’s cultivating the right spirit is always worth the effort, for the real reward will come, not from men, but from Jehovah God. Furthermore, one’s setting a good example can have a wholesome, upbuilding effect on others.
SERVING AS A PIONEER OR HELPING OUT IN ANOTHER LOCATION
11. What opportunities are open in connection with preaching and disciple-making, and what should motivate one’s seizing them? (Matt. 22:37-39)
11 Bethel service, of course, is a door of opportunity that does not open to all those associated with congregations of God’s people world wide. But there are other fine opportunities that are open in connection with the work that must be done. For example, servants of God are privileged to devote all the time that they can make available to the important work of preaching and making disciples. There is no limit to the time that they may spend in this service. All of us surely want to be whole-souled in it. For many, this may mean being able to devote some sixty hours monthly to this work as an “auxiliary pioneer” or some ninety hours or more monthly as a “regular pioneer.” Have you entered the open door of pioneer activity or are you planning to do so? As you pioneer let your motive for sharing in this service continue to be love for Jehovah God and your fellow humans.
12. How does the apostle Paul’s example illustrate what is required of those who would be successful in taking up sacred service in another location?
12 Just as Paul and Barnabas began serving with the Antioch congregation because of the great need there, you may be in a position to move to another location to advance spiritual interests. Again, humility, self-sacrifice and a keen interest in the welfare of others can be a big help in making needed adjustments to a new environment. This was true of the apostle Paul, who could say of himself: “Though I am free from all persons, I have made myself the slave to all, that I may gain the most persons. . . . I have become all things to people of all sorts.” (1 Cor. 9:19-22) “I have learned, in whatever circumstances I am, to be self-sufficient. I know indeed how to be low on provisions, I know indeed how to have an abundance.” (Phil. 4:11, 12) With full trust in Jehovah, Paul was able to bear up under very trying circumstances.
13. Why should a person contemplating missionary service count the cost, and what are some things that he might consider prayerfully about his being able to share in this service?
13 Today serving in another area, or perhaps as a missionary in another part of the world, requires making sacrifices and being willing to slave in behalf of others. These things need to be given prayerful thought beforehand. (Compare Luke 14:28-32.) For example, a person who has always had an automobile available for his service should consider whether he would be willing to walk for miles over rough terrain or with the hot sun beating down upon him, or whether he would be willing to put up with crowded or sporadic public transportation facilities. If he balks at such things now, then he may have great difficulty in adjusting to a totally new and strange environment. Likewise, persons who have a hard time in adapting to different circumstances and surroundings and to people with varying backgrounds, customs, living standards and habits, should recognize that they must ‘work at it’ in order to qualify for evangelizing work in a foreign field.
OPPORTUNITIES IN SLAVING AS SERVANTS AND ELDERS
14. What is required of those who are appointed as servants or as elders in the congregation?
14 Ministering to fellow believers in the capacity of servants or elders is a door of opportunity that is open to men in the Christian congregation. The qualifications set forth in the Scriptures make it clear that those thus serving must be spiritual persons, fine examples in Christian living, yes, men who have the respect and confidence of the congregation as a whole. (1 Tim. 3:1-10, 12, 13; Titus 1:5-9) Because elders have teaching responsibilities, they should also be men who are careful students of God’s Word. A man who rarely reads the Bible and has perhaps never read it in its entirety could hardly be considered qualified to teach it to fellow believers.—Compare 1 Timothy 1:6, 7; James 3:1.
15. As is evident from Jesus’ words at Matthew 20:25-27, what is basic to a man’s qualifying to be a servant or an elder in the congregation?
15 According to the Scriptures, congregational servants and elders are not a titled class but are the slaves of their brothers. Jesus Christ told the apostles: “You know that the rulers of the nations lord it over them and the great men wield authority over them. This is not the way among you; but whoever wants to become great among you must be your minister, and whoever wants to be first among you must be your slave.” (Matt. 20:25-27) Hence, basic to a man’s qualifying as a servant in the congregation or as an elder is his desire to slave for his brothers, sacrificing of his time and energies in their behalf.
16. Just what makes a man a servant or an elder in the fullest sense?
16 Those who are servants and elders in the true sense of the word are thought of by their brothers as humble slaves who are willing and eager to give of themselves wholeheartedly in helping them. (Acts 20:25-35; 1 Pet. 5:2, 3) It is because they are working hard in the advancement of spiritual interests that the congregation has high regard, appreciation and love for such servants and elders. (1 Thess. 5:12, 13; Heb. 13:17) They are men who are living up to the trust conferred upon them by reason of their appointment. Especially should this be true of traveling elders. The congregations rightly expect them to be spiritual men of outstanding humility.—Compare Luke 12:48.
17. Why can it be said that ambitious, position-conscious men have not begun to reach out for an office of overseer?
17 Obviously men who want prominence and position, rather than to do the work of a slave, are not qualified to be servants or elders. They have not begun to ‘reach out for an office of overseer.’ Why not? Because they are not really seeking the “fine work” that is associated therewith.—1 Tim. 3:1.
18. (a) What do all opportunities associated with sacred service call for, and why? (b) What can we expect if we make ourselves available to be used to the greatest extent of our God-given abilities?
18 The opportunities that are open to disciples of Jesus Christ are not positions of prestige and esteem in the eyes of men. All are opportunities that call for the unselfish, wholehearted exertion of effort, demanding work. This is only reasonable, for Jehovah God and his Son have set the perfect example as workers that we are called upon to imitate. Jesus Christ said: “My Father has kept working until now, and I keep working.” (John 5:17) May this also be true of all of us, as we make ourselves available to be used to the greatest extent of our God-given abilities. If we do, our life will be filled with joy and satisfaction as we confidently look forward to receiving Jehovah’s blessing. The apostle Paul’s words to the Hebrews are most encouraging: “God is not unrighteous so as to forget your work and the love you showed for his name, in that you have ministered to the holy ones and continue ministering. But we desire each one of you to show the same industriousness so as to have the full assurance of the hope down to the end, in order that you may not become sluggish, but be imitators of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises.”—Heb. 6:10-12.
a This applies not only to Brooklyn Bethel but also to other large printing branches of the Watch Tower Society.