Teach With Skill and Zeal
“Go therefore and make disciples of people of all the nations, . . . teaching them to observe all the things I have commanded you.”—MATTHEW 28:19, 20.
1. What is encouraged by Proverbs 22:29, and how so?
JEHOVAH’S WORD encourages skill and industriousness. For instance, it states: “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.” (Proverbs 22:29) Of course, there is nothing demeaning about working for “commonplace men.” But the skillful artisan’s fine work will not remain a secret. Why, news of his skill may reach the ears of a king, who may well seek his services!
2. (a) To develop skill in any profession, what is necessary? (b) Why is a Christian minister’s effectiveness as a teacher so important?
2 Knowledge and skill are needed in any profession. A man may study carpentry and may also learn much by observing those skilled in that trade. But to develop skill himself, he must put acquired knowledge to work on the job. A surgeon needs to be educated. But to become competent, he must put his knowledge to use in the operating room. And in that profession skill is vital, for competence can often make the difference between life and death for the patient. Yet, of far greater importance is proficiency as a minister. Why? Because the minister’s effectiveness as a teacher can well affect the way that people respond to the good news. In turn, their response can make the difference between everlasting life and eternal death for them.—Deuteronomy 30:19, 20; John 17:3.
3. The making of disciples requires what?
3 The commission that Jesus Christ gave his followers involves teaching. He said: “Go therefore and make disciples of people of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the holy spirit, teaching them to observe all the things I have commanded you. And, look! I am with you all the days until the conclusion of the system of things.” (Matthew 28:19, 20) Of course, skill is required to teach the honest-hearted all the things Jesus commanded.
4. (a) Skillful teaching should be done with what attitude? (b) How did Apollos benefit from being in the company of Aquila and Priscilla?
4 Such skillful teaching should be done with zeal. Yes, Christians should be “zealous for fine works,” and these certainly include the imparting of spiritual instruction in the ministry and in the congregation. (Titus 2:14) As skillful teachers, Aquila and Priscilla “took [Apollos] into their company [at Ephesus] and expounded the way of God more correctly to him.” This benefited Apollos greatly, for later in Achaia “with intensity he thoroughly proved the Jews to be wrong publicly, while he demonstrated by the Scriptures that Jesus was the Christ.” (Acts 18:24-28) Clearly, Apollos taught with both skill and zeal.
‘Pay Attention to Your Teaching’
5. According to 1 Timothy 4:16, why should we teach skillfully and zealously?
5 The apostle Paul told his Christian associate 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.” (1 Timothy 4:16) Since the very salvation of both teacher and student is at stake, surely such instruction should be imparted skillfully and zealously.
6. How can you become adept in handling the Scriptures, and what appropriate questions can be considered?
6 Carpenters and surgeons surely must pay attention to themselves. They must be able to use their tools or instruments competently. So must the Christian minister, whose chief implement is ‘the sword of the spirit, God’s word.’ (Ephesians 6:17) How can you become adept in handling the Scriptures? Through regular study and use, of course. So, have you read the Bible from cover to cover, taking time to meditate on its superb counsel? Do you read it daily? Are you using it regularly in the field ministry? And are you taking full advantage of the rich spiritual food being provided by Jehovah through “the faithful and discreet slave”?—Matthew 24:45-47.
7. What suggestions are offered regarding time for study, and how can the need for study be shown Scripturally?
7 Be sure to set aside time for study of God’s Word and true Christian publications. This will fill your mind with wholesome information that will benefit you and that can be used to answer sincere inquirers. (1 Peter 3:15; Colossians 4:6) Times for study and meditation vary with families and with individuals. Some may find it beneficial to study at day’s end. Others may be more alert upon arising. Still others may find a midday hour to be most suitable for them. In any case, regularity and diligence are of utmost importance. Joshua and kings of Israel were to read God’s Word daily.—Joshua 1:7, 8; Deuteronomy 17:18-20.
Work to Become a Better Teacher
8. How can the use of mental association improve your teaching skill?
8 Improvement of teaching skill calls for hard work. One way to enhance your ability as a teacher is to use mental association when studying the Bible or Christian publications. Associate new ideas with those you already know. This will help you to outline information in your mind so that you can explain matters clearly when teaching others. Doubtless, you have used association when studying in the past. For instance, at one time you may not have realized that Christians are to be in relative subjection to governmental “superior authorities.” But you now know that obedience to God must come first. (Romans 13:1-8; Mark 12:17; Acts 5:29) You understand this because you have associated new points with those already known.
9. Illustrate how you can visualize an incident recorded in the Bible.
9 Another way to enhance your teaching ability is by visualizing incidents recorded in the Bible. Why not do this now with Judges 7:19-22? Under the cover of darkness, Gideon and 300 men surround a Midianite camp where sentries have just been posted. Suddenly, you hear Gideon’s band of 100 blow their horns, and you see them smash the large water jars they have been carrying. The 200 other Israelites do the same thing. And as they all raise flaming torches aloft, you hear them shout: “Jehovah’s sword and Gideon’s!” As the terrorized Midianites begin to flee, Gideon’s three companies continue blowing their horns, and you find that Jehovah has set the swords of the fleeing enemies against one another. Because you have visualized this event, doubtless you will remember it well and will be able to use it when teaching others. Surely, one lesson it teaches is that Jehovah can deliver his people without a powerful human military force.—Psalm 94:14.
10. In teaching, how might you use the illustration found at Judges 9:8-15?
10 Fine illustrations, including those in the Scriptures, can also enhance your skill as a teacher. As an example, consider Judges 9:8-15. Gideon’s son Jotham told of a time when the trees went to anoint a ruler over them. Whereas the olive tree, the fig tree, and the vine refused a position of rulership, the lowly bramble eagerly accepted it. The valuable plants represented worthy persons who did not seek kingship over their fellow Israelites. However, the bramble, useful only as fuel, represented the kingship of arrogant, murderous Abimelech, who wanted to dominate others but met a bad end in fulfillment of Jotham’s prophecy. (Judges 9:50-57) This illustration might be used to emphasize the need to do what is right and to be humble, not arrogant.—Psalm 18:26, 27; 1 Peter 5:5.
11. (a) What points are emphasized by Jesus’ illustration recorded at Matthew 13:45, 46? (b) The nature of that illustration suggests what about the illustrations used by Christian teachers?
11 The Great Teacher, Jesus Christ, is well known for his excellent illustrations. For example, consider his words: “The kingdom of the heavens is like a traveling merchant seeking fine pearls. Upon finding one pearl of high value, away he went and promptly sold all the things he had and bought it.” (Matthew 13:45, 46) Jesus thus illustrated the preciousness of the Kingdom and showed that a person appreciating the true value of gaining it would be willing to part with anything in order to do so. There was nothing complicated about that illustration, and Christian teachers do well to keep that standard in mind when using illustrations as a teaching aid.
Meetings Can Make Us More Skillful
12. How can attending public talks help you to improve your teaching ability?
12 Christian meetings play a significant role in making Jehovah’s servants skillful and zealous teachers. As Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount shows, public talks are a fine means of providing spiritual instruction. (Matthew 5:1–7:29) Hence, public talks are among the meetings of Jehovah’s Witnesses today. Do you attend regularly? Are you an attentive listener? Do you consult your Bible when texts are read by the speaker? Is it your practice to take notes? These are ways to improve your ability as a teacher, and the fine Scriptural instruction should increase both your skill and your zeal as a disciple maker.
13, 14. (a) When did the disciple-making work take on particular significance among Jehovah’s servants? (b) What questions can well be asked regarding the Watchtower Study and the Congregation Book Study?
13 The disciple-making work took on particular significance among Jehovah’s servants with the call to ‘Advertise the King and Kingdom,’ first sounded during their convention at Cedar Point, Ohio, in 1922. Also in that year, group studies of The Watch Tower were first organized. This journal certainly has kept Bible teaching and Kingdom preaching to the fore, its very name being The Watchtower Announcing Jehovah’s Kingdom. Are you an avid reader of God’s Word with The Watchtower as an aid? Do you actively participate in the weekly Watchtower Study?
14 The weekly Congregation Book Study also provides opportunities to improve your ability as a teacher of the good news. When answering questions at these smaller gatherings, as well as at the Watchtower Study, do you express matters in your own words? Do your comments reflect what you believe in your heart?
15. What is the purpose of the Service Meeting, and how is guidance provided for it?
15 Prior to 1922, Jehovah’s servants customarily gathered for a midweek Prayer, Praise, and Testimony Meeting. It was an occasion for singing, giving testimonies, and engaging in prayer. But with the increased emphasis on house-to-house Kingdom proclamation, this gathering developed into the Service Meeting, which stresses the preaching work. Of particular help was the Bulletin, which contained field service instructions and “canvasses,” or testimonies, that could be used in the ministry. Today, Our Kingdom Ministry provides similar assistance, as well as guidance for weekly “Meetings to Help Us Make Disciples.” Do you regularly participate in such meetings? Are you applying the counsel designed to help you teach with skill and zeal?
16. As stated at its inception, what is the purpose of the Theocratic Ministry School?
16 To promote skillful teaching, the Theocratic Ministry School was instituted in the congregations of Jehovah’s Witnesses in 1943. Regarding the school’s chief purpose, its first guidebook stated: “This course is not provided to take away from your time spent in field service, but is arranged to make you more proficient therein. Stated in more specific terms, the purpose of this ‘Course in Theocratic Ministry’ is to prepare all ‘faithful men’, those who have heard God’s Word and proved their faith therein, to ‘be able to teach others’ by going from door to door, by making back-calls [return visits], by conducting model studies and book studies, and, in short, by engaging in every phase of the Kingdom service. It is to the one end of making each one a more efficient Theocratic minister to the honor of the Lord’s name; that he may be better equipped to publicly present the hope that is within him; that he may be ‘apt to teach, patient, in meekness instructing’. (2 Tim. 2:24, 25) Let no one lose sight of this primary purpose of the course.” (Course in Theocratic Ministry, page 4) This remains the principal purpose of the Theocratic Ministry School. Have you been applying the fine information on teaching, reading, public speaking, and the like, that appears in this school’s textbooks?* Are you an enrollee? Do you gratefully accept and fulfill your assignments on the school program? This provision of Jehovah through his organization can help to make you a skillful and zealous minister.
Training for Zealous Teaching
17. What spiritual provisions has Jehovah made for those who teach others his sacred truth?
17 Jehovah is making abundant spiritual provisions for those privileged to teach others his sacred truth. Among other things, he provides Bible literature, weekly meetings, and larger assemblies. Such fine provisions enable his dedicated Witnesses to become skillful and zealous teachers.
18. Following the examples of Jesus and Paul, what arrangements may elders make to advance field ministry today?
18 But what if we are appointed as elders or are more experienced witnesses of Jehovah? Then love for others should move us to help new and less experienced Christians to become more skillful and zealous teachers. Surely this is proper, for Jesus sent out the 70 disciples only after giving them instructions for their ministry. (Luke 10:1-24) Paul taught the overseers of Ephesus “publicly and from house to house,” and this would involve training them to witness to unbelievers while going from door to door in the field ministry. (Acts 20:20, 21) Similarly, elders, pioneers, and others may gladly train fellow Witnesses in the field ministry today. Do you sense a need for such training? Then by all means seek it and accept it. Are you an elder? Then make arrangements for training others in the ministry while you yourself take a zealous lead in the field service.
Continue Developing Skill
19. Why should we pray about our ministry?
19 Surgeons, carpenters, and others can become more skillful through continued study and application of acquired knowledge. The same is true of Christian ministers. Therefore, how vital it is that each dedicated witness of Jehovah work hard to increase his skill as a teacher of the good news! And since this is Jehovah’s work, it should be the subject of our earnest prayers. If we seek God’s help and guidance, we can be confident that he will bless our zealous ministry. As the apostle John said: “Whatever we ask we receive from [Jehovah God], because we are observing his commandments and are doing the things that are pleasing in his eyes.”—1 John 3:22.
20. As Jehovah’s Witnesses, what should be our determination as this system nears its end?
20 As the present wicked system of things nears its end, therefore, may we exert ourselves vigorously in the ministry. May we ‘pay attention to ourselves and our teaching,’ to our own salvation and to that of those who heed the Kingdom message. Yes, let us make every effort to teach with skill and zeal.
For instance, please see Theocratic Ministry School Guidebook and Qualified to Be Ministers (Revised Edition), published by the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of New York, Inc.
What Would You Say?
□ Besides preaching, the disciple-making work calls for what?
□ Why is it so important to ‘pay attention to your teaching’?
□ What are some ways to enhance teaching skill?
□ How can Christian meetings help us to be skillful and zealous teachers of God’s Word?
□ What may elders and other experienced Witnesses do as regards the field ministry?
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Visualizing Bible events can help you to become a better teacher
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The Theocratic Ministry School instructor helps students to be skillful in Kingdom service