Ministerial Servants—A Blessing to Jehovah’s People
“Let these be tested as to fitness first, then let them serve as ministers, as they are free from accusation.”—1 TIMOTHY 3:10.
1. Who help to ensure congregational happiness and unity?
JEHOVAH is “the happy God,” and he wants his servants to be happy. (1 Timothy 1:11) To that end, he has provided elders and ministerial servants for the blessing of his people. These responsible men serve beneficial purposes and help to ensure the happiness, unity, and smooth operation of the Christian congregation. How grateful Jehovah’s Witnesses are for the loving and helpful service rendered by these appointees within God’s theocratic organization!
2. What attitude should elders and ministerial servants have, but of what should they never lose sight?
2 Despite the vital contribution elders and ministerial servants make to the congregation, however, they are not to magnify their own importance. They must remember that Jesus Christ admonished his followers to be humble. He once told them: “Whoever will humble himself like this young child is the one that is the greatest in the kingdom of the heavens.” (Matthew 18:4) And the disciple James wrote: “Humble yourselves in the eyes of Jehovah, and he will exalt you.” (James 4:10; Romans 12:3) But having a humble attitude does not require that these men downplay the importance of their work as elders and ministerial servants. They can be humble and still take the lead in the service activities. Never should they lose sight of the beneficial purposes served by their activity, but they should always remember their obligation, both to Jehovah and to their Christian brothers, to do the best they can in fulfilling their duties.
3. United activity among Jehovah’s Witnesses can be compared to what, and how can dedicated men promote such unity and the advancement of Kingdom interests?
3 United activity among Jehovah’s Witnesses today can be compared to the unity in the human body. In fact, the apostle Paul likened the spiritual body of Christ to the human body made up of many members. Yet for mutual benefit, all members of the body work together. (1 Corinthians 12:12-31) And, surely, appointed elders and ministerial servants are a blessing to Jehovah’s people, for these men further the unified operation of the Christian congregation today. (Compare Colossians 2:18, 19.) Dedicated male members of the congregation who strive to support Jehovah’s organizational arrangement by “reaching out for an office of overseer” are making a vital contribution to Christian unity and the advancement of Kingdom interests. (1 Timothy 3:1) But how does a Christian man qualify, in the first place, to become a ministerial servant?
“Tested as to Fitness First”
4. (a) Why should prospective ministerial servants be “tested as to fitness first”? (b) These men should be willing to do what?
4 The apostle Paul told his co-worker Timothy what was required before men could be appointed as ministerial servants. Among other things, Paul wrote: “Let these be tested as to fitness first, then let them serve as ministers, as they are free from accusation.” (1 Timothy 3:10) This would prevent the appointing of unqualified men, those not meeting certain basic Scriptural requirements. It would also allow time to determine the motives of prospective ministerial servants. Surely, these men should not be motivated by a desire to gain prestige, for that would indicate a lack of humility. Rather, in recognition of the fact that a Christian’s dedication to God is unconditional and all embracing, a brother should be willing to serve in any capacity in which Jehovah sees fit to use him in His organization. Yes, prospective ministerial servants should be as willing to serve as was faithful Isaiah, who said: “Here I am! Send me.”—Isaiah 6:8.
5. (a) What requirements for ministerial servants are set out at 1 Timothy 3:8? (b) What does it mean to be “serious”? (c) Paul meant what in saying that ministerial servants must not be “double-tongued”?
5 “Ministerial servants should likewise be serious, not double-tongued, not giving themselves to a lot of wine, not greedy of dishonest gain,” Paul explained. (1 Timothy 3:8) Although some ministerial servants may be comparatively young, they are not youths and must be “serious.” They must have learned to view important matters seriously. (Compare Proverbs 22:15.) They must be reliable and conscientious, not men inclined to take responsibility lightly. Indeed, they should be dependable, taking their duties seriously. After all, what could be of more serious concern than sacred service to Jehovah? It is a matter of life and death—for them and for others. (Compare 1 Timothy 4:16.) Moreover, in saying that ministerial servants must not be “double-tongued,” Paul meant that they were to be straightforward and truthful, not gossipy, hypocritical, or devious.—Proverbs 3:32.
6. What are some ways in which ministerial servants should manifest balance?
6 Good balance is a must in the personal life of men who qualify to be ministerial servants. Paul obviously meant that they must shun drunkenness, greed, and dishonesty when he said that they should neither be “giving themselves to a lot of wine” nor be “greedy of dishonest gain.” These Christian men must also avoid giving even the impression that they are excessively interested in pleasures or material things. They should always strive to put spiritual matters first in life. This will help them to maintain “a clean conscience” before fellow humans and, more importantly, in the eyes of God.—1 Timothy 3:8, 9.
7. (a) Why can it be said that the responsibilities of ministerial servants are not intended for youngsters? (b) The fact of a ministerial servant’s being single may reveal what about him?
7 The heavy responsibilities falling upon ministerial servants are not intended for youngsters. These men are spoken of in Scripture as being of such an age that they could be married and have a family. Under those circumstances, they would have to be “presiding in a fine manner over children and their own households.” (1 Timothy 3:12) Does this mean that a young man would not become eligible to be a ministerial servant until he had first married and raised a family? No, not at all. In fact, his reluctance to rush into marriage without ample preparation or before finding a suitable baptized Christian partner may reveal a degree of maturity needed to take proper care of personal affairs and the far more serious congregational responsibilities.
8 Paul said that “men who minister in a fine manner are acquiring for themselves a fine standing and great freeness of speech in the faith in connection with Christ Jesus.” (1 Timothy 3:13) One way they can show the required “great freeness of speech” is by taking an active part in preaching “this good news of the kingdom.” (Matthew 24:14) They should realize that they share with the elders the responsibility for taking the lead in preaching from house to house and participating in other forms of the ministry. (Acts 5:42; 20:20, 21) As Satan’s wicked system rapidly nears its end, the preaching activity takes on ever greater urgency. Ministerial servants should, therefore, keep the urgency of the Kingdom-preaching work before the congregation by setting an excellent personal example in the field ministry.
Helped by the Full-Time Ministry
9. In view of the urgency of our times, what service have many Christians taken up?
9 In view of the urgency of our critical times, many Christian men and women have taken up the full-time ministry. Many, called pioneers, daily spend an average of between two and five hours in the preaching work, some of them as missionaries in foreign lands. Others serve full time at the Watch Tower Society’s headquarters or in its branch offices around the earth. Their service is a source of joy and satisfaction to them and to those they serve. And in many cases experience in full-time service has helped men to develop the qualifications needed to serve the congregation beneficially as ministerial servants.
10, 11. As indicated by personal expressions cited here, how may men desiring to be ministerial servants be benefited by full-time service?
10 One former ministerial servant, now an elder in a Berlin, Germany, congregation, says of the pioneer work he took up years ago as a young man: “I can say that it was a step I have never regretted. Jehovah has blessed me. My relationship with him has become more intimate.” Yes, like thousands of others, this brother discovered that the full-time ministry can deepen a person’s relationship with Jehovah and speed up progress toward Christian maturity.
11 Another longtime pioneer explains how the full-time service helped him. “I quieted down and became more balanced as regards making hasty judgments,” he says. “I was happier and became more flexible in dealing with different kinds of people.” Are these not among the qualities needed by men desiring to serve as ministerial servants?
12. (a) What opportunities are there to participate in the full-time ministry? (b) Participating in the full-time ministry calls for what abilities that would help a ministerial servant fulfill his duties?
12 Participating in the full-time ministry, if Scriptural responsibilities permit, can serve as a marvelous opportunity for Christian men to be “tested as to fitness first.” Some can take up such ministry on a permanent basis, others from time to time. Younger people might do so during school vacations, and older ones during vacation periods or at other appropriate times throughout the year. Of course, participating in the full-time service calls for balance and careful planning. These abilities are needed by a ministerial servant and will help him to fulfill his duties. What duties?
Duties of Ministerial Servants
13. Acts 6:1-6 suggests what as to the type of work assigned to ministerial servants?
13 Although Acts 6:1-6 does not directly apply to the appointing of ministerial servants, what is said there does suggest the type of work or the nature of duties that normally would be assigned to ministerial servants. Not by instructing fellow believers but by distributing food, the “seven certified men” then chosen freed the apostles to ‘devote themselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word.’ By caring for similar duties today, ministerial servants provide the elders with more time for shepherding and teaching “the flock of God.”—1 Peter 5:2, 3.
14. What varied duties may be assigned to ministerial servants?
14 Regarding the duties of ministerial servants, the book Organized to Accomplish Our Ministry states: “One ministerial servant may be assigned to take care of the congregation literature, making it convenient for all of us to obtain the literature we need for our personal use and for field service. Another may care for the magazines in the congregation. Others are assigned duties to keep records such as for the congregation accounts or for the assigning of territory, or they are used to handle microphones, operate sound equipment, look after the platform or perhaps help the elders in other ways. There is much work to be done in maintaining the Kingdom Hall and keeping it clean, so ministerial servants are often called upon to assist in caring for such responsibilities. Ministerial servants are also assigned to serve as attendants, welcome new ones and help maintain order at congregation meetings.”—Pages 57-8.
15. (a) To serve effectively as a ministerial servant, what is needed besides practical ability? (b) Although ministerial servants look after various things, what should be their chief concern?
15 Could just any brother with practical ability perform such work? No, for the “certified men” chosen in first-century Jerusalem were “full of spirit and wisdom,” or were “both practical and spiritually-minded.” (Acts 6:3, Phillips) Even if they were already older men among Jehovah’s people, they were assigned work similar to that now done by ministerial servants. So if present-day ministerial servants are to fulfill their duties effectively, they must be “both practical and spiritually-minded.” While they are occupied with organizational details, their chief interest should be in serving people in spiritually beneficial ways.
16. If there are not enough elders in a congregation, ministerial servants may be assigned what duties?
16 Since ministerial servants must be spiritually minded, at times they can be used for work normally done by elders. Organized to Accomplish Our Ministry (pages 58-9) explains: “If there are not enough elders to conduct the Congregation Book Studies, some of the more qualified ministerial servants are used as study conductors to care for assigned groups. They may be assigned to handle parts in the Service Meeting and the Theocratic Ministry School and to deliver public talks in the local congregation. Other privileges may be extended to some of the ministerial servants where there is particular need and they meet the requirements for the assignment.—Compare 1 Peter 4:10.”
17. What kind of man was Stephen, and what question does this raise concerning ministerial servants?
17 One of the “seven certified men” of Bible times was “Stephen, a man full of faith and holy spirit.” (Acts 6:5) Before dying as a faithful martyr, Stephen gave a stirring testimony before the Jewish Sanhedrin. Read the account, and you will be convinced that he was spiritually minded, an outstanding witness receptive to the guidance of God’s holy spirit and willing to give his life in Jehovah’s service. (Acts 6:8–7:60) If you are a ministerial servant, do you take your congregational duties and field ministry as seriously as Stephen obviously took his responsibilities and his privilege to speak the truth?
How Are They Measuring Up?
18. What can be said about the work of many ministerial servants, and of what can they be assured?
18 Many ministerial servants are setting a fine example in Christian living, are caring for their congregational responsibilities very well, and are taking a good lead in the field ministry. Their work is greatly appreciated by fellow worshipers and will not be left unrewarded by Jehovah, for Hebrew Christians were assured: “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.”—Hebrews 6:10.
19. (a) What questions might each ministerial servant ask himself? (b) Why will it be beneficial to discuss problems experienced by some ministerial servants?
19 However, each ministerial servant might well ask himself: How am I measuring up to Scriptural requirements? Do I really contribute to the unity of the congregation? Am I caring for my assigned duties properly and industriously? And am I setting a good example in the field ministry? Some ministerial servants have met with problems in measuring up to what is required of them. So let us discuss some of these problems. Doing so can help each ministerial servant to “prove what his own work is.” (Galatians 6:4) It should also increase the appreciation others have for the labors of love performed by these men who serve beneficial purposes among Jehovah’s Witnesses and are a real blessing to God’s people.
Can You Explain?
□ How are ministerial servants a blessing to Jehovah’s people?
□ How can the full-time ministry help brothers who want to become ministerial servants?
□ Why must ministerial servants be “both practical and spiritually-minded”?
□ How was faithful Stephen a fine example for ministerial servants today?
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Elders and ministerial servants are a blessing to the congregation
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Pioneer service is excellent training for those desiring to become ministerial servants or elders