Ministerial Servants—Maintain a Fine Standing!
“The 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.
1. After his appointment as a ministerial servant, what should be a man’s goal, and what should others in the congregation want to do?
MEN who now are ministerial servants have been “tested as to fitness first.” (1 Timothy 3:10) But their appointment was not an end in itself. Their goal is to go on “acquiring for themselves a fine standing” by carrying out their duties in “a fine manner.” (1 Timothy 3:13) Each member of the united Christian congregation will want to support them in achieving this goal.
2. How are members of the congregation affected by what is done by ministerial servants?
2 The apostle Paul indicated that all members of the spiritual body of Christ benefit by working together and caring for one another. (1 Corinthians 12:12-31) Similarly, when ministerial servants do their God-given work in “a fine manner,” every member of the present-day Christian congregation is benefited. But when ministerial servants encounter problems that hinder them from fulfilling their duties properly, this may work a hardship on all members of the congregation.
3. (a) What problems are common to all of Jehovah’s people? (b) What does a recent survey help to illustrate?
3 All of Jehovah’s people have the same fight, “a wrestling, not against blood and flesh, but . . . against the wicked spirit forces in the heavenly places.” (Ephesians 6:12) Additionally, all of Jehovah’s servants have a fight against their own imperfections and sinful tendencies. As a group, however, ministerial servants are faced with certain problems in a more pronounced way than are other groups of Jehovah’s Witnesses. Helpful in illustrating this is a recent survey of over 320 congregations with 1,360 ministerial servants in one western European country.
Singleness and Marriage
4. How should unmarried ministerial servants view their singleness, and what encouragement can others give them?
4 Of the ministerial servants surveyed, slightly over 10 percent are still single. They thus enjoy freedom from certain responsibilities common to the nearly 90 percent who are married. But single brothers must be careful not to use this freedom simply in the pursuit of such personal things as excessive recreation or socializing. Nor should they allow the natural desire for marriage to take priority over everything else in life. (Matthew 6:33) Neither should they allow pressure from their married friends to force them into a hasty or unwise marriage. And, surely, Christians who care for one another will respect the single status of unmarried fellow believers and will encourage them to take advantage of their greater freedom to devote more time to theocratic pursuits, possibly by taking up the full-time ministry.
5. What greater danger exists for married ministerial servants than for those who are single?
5 According to the aforementioned survey, about 62 percent of the ministerial servants are parents. For them, the danger of their hearts getting “weighed down” with the “anxieties of life” is greater than it is for single brothers. (Luke 21:34-36) Thus, in recommending singleness, Paul said: “I want you to be free from anxiety. The unmarried man is anxious for the things of the Lord, how he may gain the Lord’s approval. But the married man is anxious for the things of the world, how he may gain the approval of his wife, and he is divided. . . . He also that gives his virginity in marriage does well, but he that does not give it in marriage will do better.”—1 Corinthians 7:32-38.
6. Married ministerial servants need to do what, and who may be able to offer helpful suggestions?
6 Although Jehovah’s people do not believe that ‘marriages are made in heaven,’ they know that heavenly wisdom is needed to solve marital problems. (Psalm 19:7; Proverbs 3:5, 6) Hence, married ministerial servants need to follow the counsel of God’s Word as closely as possible. They must strive for proper balance in fulfilling family responsibilities, and yet never use these as an excuse for neglecting their theocratic duties in the congregation. Among other things, a well-thought-out schedule is essential. Older and more experienced married couples may be able to offer younger ones helpful suggestions in this regard when called upon to do so.
7. (a) How might the family of a married ministerial servant affect his efforts and spiritual progress? (b) Ministerial servants planning to get married would do well to keep what in mind?
7 Support from his family is of great help to a married ministerial servant. Of course, family members who place excessive demands on his time and attention or are overly demanding in material ways can hinder his spiritual progress. But it is a blessing when his entire family supports his efforts to “minister in a fine manner.” (1 Timothy 3:13) So how vital it is that before an unmarried ministerial servant becomes emotionally involved with a prospective marriage mate he try to determine whether she is likely to promote their spiritual progress!
Employment and Materialism
8. (a) What possible danger do some ministerial servants face in connection with secular employment? (b) Meditation on what scriptures can help a person to combat materialism?
8 Eight out of every ten ministerial servants surveyed were under the age of 60. So in most cases they still do secular work to support themselves and their families. Nearly five of every ten of them are between 20 and 40 years of age—when men of the world normally get established in a job or career and strive to get ahead and become financially secure. If you are a ministerial servant in that age bracket, never underestimate the danger of developing worldly, materialistic attitudes that can weaken you spiritually. Rather, remember that Paul said: “Having sustenance and covering, we shall be content with these things.” (1 Timothy 6:8) Jesus, too, gave fine counsel that can help all of us to combat materialism. Read it for yourself at Matthew 6:19-34.
9. In harmony with Matthew 16:26, what is the course of wisdom for younger ministerial servants in particular?
9 You younger ministerial servants in particular, look at the “successful” men pursuing worldly careers or amassing wealth but leaving Jehovah out of their plans. (Compare Proverbs 16:3; 19:21.) Just how wise would it be to pattern yourselves after any unspiritual, materialistic individuals whose lives will soon be snuffed out during the “great tribulation”? (Matthew 24:21) What servant of Jehovah would trade places with them? “For,” said Jesus, “what benefit will it be to a man if he gains the whole world but forfeits his soul?” (Matthew 16:26) Surely, the course of wisdom is to build a secure future with Jehovah’s organization rather than a very insecure and short one with this dying world that is lying in Satan’s power.—1 John 5:19.
Allegiance to God’s Kingdom
10. As regards political affairs, what position is taken by the increasing “company of young men,” including ministerial servants?
10 Prophetically, it was said of Jehovah’s Messianic King: “Your people will offer themselves willingly on the day of your military force. In the splendors of holiness, from the womb of the dawn, you have your company of young men just like dewdrops.” (Psalm 110:3) This prophecy has been undergoing fulfillment since 1914, and those of the increasing “company of young men” realize that their first allegiance must be to God’s Kingdom with the glorified Jesus Christ as King. So while these dedicated men, including ministerial servants, are in relative subjection to governmental “superior authorities,” in any conflict of interests they “must obey God as ruler rather than men.” (Romans 13:1; Acts 5:29) As Jesus said, his followers are “no part of the world.” (John 15:19; 18:36) They remain neutral as to the political affairs of the nations, realizing that doing otherwise would make them traitors to God’s Kingdom.
11. Brothers who suffer because of maintaining Christian neutrality can be certain of what?
11 What if ministerial servants or others lose their employment or even their freedom because of maintaining Christian neutrality? (Isaiah 2:2-4; John 17:16) Then they know that their spiritual brothers and sisters will give them all the support possible spiritually, and, if necessary, materially. This is so because Jehovah’s people lovingly care for one another.—Compare John 13:34, 35; 1 Corinthians 12:24, 25.
A Need for Greater Experience
12. ‘Acquiring a fine standing’ would include what?
12 Approximately one third of the ministerial servants surveyed have been Jehovah’s Witnesses less than ten years. Obviously, these men have accepted the help and guidance of the more experienced members of the congregation. But ‘acquiring a fine standing’ would involve continuing to learn from others and gathering experience. It would also mean constantly setting personal goals and conscientiously striving to reach them. So if you earnestly desire to serve beneficial purposes as a ministerial servant or are reaching out for that privilege, have you set some personal goals? For example, why not decide to read through the entire Bible by a particular date or to be an auxiliary pioneer during certain months?
13. What counsel given to Timothy would benefit a brother who wishes to become a ministerial servant or who now serves in that capacity?
13 If you are young in years or experience, you can benefit from what is said at 1 Timothy 4:12-15. Although those words were directed to the young overseer Timothy, much of what Paul said there about speech and conduct would benefit any brother desiring to become a ministerial servant or who already serves in that capacity. The apostle wrote: “Let no man ever look down on your youth. On the contrary, become an example to the faithful ones in speaking, in conduct, in love, in faith, in chasteness. While I am coming, continue applying yourself to public reading, to exhortation, to teaching. Do not be neglecting the gift in you that was given you through a prediction and when the body of older men laid their hands upon you. Ponder over these things; be absorbed in them, that your advancement may be manifest to all persons.” On what do you particularly need to work so that “your advancement may be manifest to all persons”? Prayerfully determine what you need to do, and then do it with Jehovah’s help!
Coping With Discouragement
14, 15. (a) What Scriptural encouragement is there for ministerial servants who must contend with advanced age or poor health? (b) How can these men encourage others in the congregation?
14 A great many ministerial servants no longer have to contend with problems unique to young men. They face advanced age or poor health, which can lead to discouragement. But those keeping strong spiritually can draw comfort from these words of Paul to fellow anointed Christians: “We do not give up, but even if the man we are outside is wasting away, certainly the man we are inside is being renewed from day to day. For though the tribulation is momentary and light, it works out for us a glory that is of more and more surpassing weight and is everlasting; while we keep our eyes, not on the things seen, but on the things unseen. For the things seen are temporary, but the things unseen are everlasting.” (2 Corinthians 4:16-18) Jehovah’s servants with earthly hopes also have very encouraging prospects—those of eternal life in an earthly paradise.—Luke 23:43; John 17:3.
15 So those ministerial servants who are unable to do as much as others because of poor health or advanced age have good reason to maintain a joyful and positive attitude. This mirrors appreciation for the truth and deep faith in things that are everlasting. Such a fine spirit, coupled with humble service, will be of great benefit and encouragement to everyone in the congregation.
16. Why should a ministerial servant not be discouraged if he is not appointed an elder?
16 If you are a ministerial servant, continue “reaching out for an office of overseer” by improving your teaching ability and spiritual qualities. (1 Timothy 3:1) But do not be discouraged if you are not quickly appointed as an elder. Remember that as a ministerial servant caring for your duties “in a fine manner” you are serving beneficial purposes and are a real asset to the congregation. It is a great privilege to serve in any way within Jehovah’s organization and to help fellow believers carry out the Kingdom-preaching commission.—Matthew 24:14; 28:19, 20.
How Others Can Help
17. How can a ministerial servant be helped by his wife and children?
17 Realizing the beneficial purposes served by ministerial servants, all of Jehovah’s people should want to support their efforts. For example, it will be easier for such a man to continue ‘ministering in a fine manner’ if his wife and children are content with the necessities of life and do not demand many luxuries that would require that he spend extra effort in secular work.—1 Timothy 6:6-8.
18. (a) How can elders help ministerial servants? (b) Why is good communication vital between elders and ministerial servants?
18 Elders can help ministerial servants by giving them any needed direction and counsel. And when improvement has been made, sincere commendation should be offered. Among other things, elders can accompany ministerial servants in the field ministry, assist them in preparing talks, and share with them their wealth of Christian experience. Apparently such interest and communication have sometimes been neglected. For example, when asked about his low field service report, one ministerial servant told a circuit overseer: “Why do you ask? It has been low for years, but you are the first one ever to say anything about it.” Elders who offer ministerial servants constructive, loving counsel and patiently help them with their problems often have the joy of seeing outstanding results.
19. How can each member of the congregation help the ministerial servants to maintain their fine standing?
19 Actually, each member of the congregation can help the ministerial servants to maintain their fine standing. How? By cooperating with them and by showing heartfelt appreciation for their work. Even as all parts of the human body normally work together to maintain physical health, so all members of the congregation must cooperate to assure its good spiritual health. (Compare 1 Corinthians 12:24, 25.) To that end, much is being done by hardworking ministerial servants who serve beneficial purposes and maintain a fine standing. May they, and all of Jehovah’s loyal witnesses, look to a future of eternal happiness and unitedly continue to make the heart of “the happy God” rejoice.—1 Timothy 1:11; Proverbs 27:11.
□ What problems may be faced by ministerial servants?
□ What can the wives and children of ministerial servants do to help them?
□ What can elders do to assist ministerial servants?
□ What can each member of the congregation do to help ministerial servants?
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Ministerial servants must faithfully discharge their responsibilities in the disciple-making work and within the congregation
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Older ministerial servants can do much to help and encourage the congregation