Youths What Will You Do With Your Life?
“That those who live might live no longer for themselves, but for him who died for them.”—2 CORINTHIANS 5:15.
1. What expression of gratitude have people made, and why?
‘THANK you! I owe you my life!’ People saved from a burning house or from drowning have said that to their rescuers. And appreciative Christian youths have made such an expression to their parents. They were referring not simply to the physical life received from their parents but especially to the loving care and instruction that put the youths on the way to receiving “the promised thing that he himself promised us, the life everlasting.”—1 John 2:25.
2. In the light of what information should you consider the question, What will you do with your life?
2 It was love that moved Jehovah God to make everlasting life, “the real life,” available to each one of us. “He loved us and sent forth his Son as a propitiatory sacrifice for our sins.” (1 Timothy 6:19; 1 John 4:10) Think, too, of the love that his Son Jesus showed in dying a painful death so that we might obtain everlasting life! (John 15:13) In light of the foregoing, What will you do with your life?
3. What often determines what people do with their lives?
3 Youths are often asked this question, in one form or another, by student counselors at school or others interested in their future. What will determine your answer? Will it be determined simply by personal preference? Will the deciding factor be the advice of those wanting you to achieve a secure position in the secular world? Or will what you do with your life be determined by superior considerations? The inspired reminder says: “He died for all that those who live might live no longer for themselves, but for him who died for them and was raised up.” (2 Corinthians 5:15) Yes, how fine it is when the way we use our lives reflects gratitude for what Jesus Christ and his heavenly Father have done for us!
Popular Role Models
4. Who are the most popular role models today?
4 Yet, who are the most popular figures today, the ones that young people generally adopt as role models? Is it not the rich and famous of the world, regardless of their moral standards? When you look in the rooms of many youths, whose pictures do you see hanging on the walls? Often it is those of musicians, movie stars, and athletes. Youths commonly dream of someday achieving similar worldly success or perhaps of marrying someone with the physical attributes of these persons. What about you? What do you want out of life?
5, 6. (a) Why can it be said that worldly success fails to bring true contentment? (b) What is the source of true contentment?
5 If you achieved the worldly success of admired celebrities, would you really be happy and satisfied? One of Hollywood’s most successful actresses said: “I’ve had my taste of wealth and all the material things. They don’t mean a thing. There’s a psychiatrist that goes with every swimming pool out here, not to mention divorces and children who hate their parents.”—Ecclesiastes 5:10; 1 Timothy 6:10.
6 An outstanding student athlete, the 1981 winner of the women’s division of a major 10-kilometer race in New York, became so disillusioned that she attempted suicide. “I have learned many truths about life in the past few months,” she wrote afterward. “One is that true contentment is not attained in the ways that so many people strive for perfection and achievement. Contentment for me didn’t come from having been a straight-A student, a state-championship runner or the possessor of an attractive figure.” Yes, people need to learn that true contentment comes only with having a personal relationship with God, who alone can provide genuine peace and happiness.—Psalm 23:1, 6; 16:11.
7. As to realizing true satisfaction, how important are a college education and worldly success?
7 Clearly, then, you should not want to imitate those who struggle merely to achieve prominence and wealth. Even secular writers note the failure of worldly success to bring true satisfaction. Columnist Bill Reel wrote: “You graduate from college with dreams for the future. Sadly, most of your aspirations will turn to ashes. I don’t want to demoralize you, but you might as well hear the truth: When you acquire the possessions you covet, if you acquire them, and when you achieve the successes you pursue, if you achieve them, they won’t satisfy you. Instead, at those very moments when you would expect to be reveling in triumph, you will feel empty rather than fulfilled, depressed rather than elated, agitated rather than peaceful.”—New York Daily News, May 26, 1983.
8. What strong reason is there for not pursuing a worldly career?
8 But for us who are alert to the significance of world events in the light of Bible prophecy, there are much stronger reasons for not putting a worldly career foremost in life. (Matthew 24:3-14) We might compare ourselves to a person that sees a building with a sign: “This Company Going out of Business.” Would we seek employment there? Of course not! And if we worked for such a company, we would wisely look for employment elsewhere. Well, the sign is evident everywhere on this world’s institutions: “Going out of Business—End Near!” Yes, “The world is passing away,” the Bible assures us. (1 John 2:17) So, wisely, we will not adopt as role models those who are deeply involved with it.
What Advice to Follow
9. What worldly advice may those give who seemingly want the best for you?
9 Your life is shaped not only by those you hold in esteem but often also by relatives and friends who, as they put it, ‘want the best for you.’ ‘You have to earn a living,’ they may say. So they may advise you to get a college or university education to prepare yourself for a well-paying profession. ‘The Bible writer Luke was a physician,’ they may note, ‘and the apostle Paul was instructed by the Law teacher Gamaliel.’ (Colossians 4:14; Acts 5:34; 22:3) Yet, analyze carefully such advice.
10. What advice did Luke and Paul provide, and what can be said about their pre-Christian activity?
10 The physician Luke never encouraged Christians to follow his former career example by becoming a doctor; rather, Luke held forth the lives of Jesus and his apostles for imitation. Evidently Luke became a physician before he learned about Christ but afterward put his Christian ministry first in life. The situation was similar with Paul. Rather than encouraging others to imitate him as he had imitated Gamaliel, Paul wrote: “Become imitators of me, even as I am of Christ.” So highly did Paul value the knowledge of Christ that he said that by comparison he considered his former pursuits “as a lot of refuse.”—1 Corinthians 11:1; Philippians 3:8.
11. (a) What did Peter tell Jesus, and why? (b) How did Jesus respond?
11 Remember, sentiment can cause even those who love you to give poor advice. For example, when Jesus spoke of what awaited him during his ministry in Jerusalem, the apostle Peter replied: “Be kind to yourself, Lord; you will not have this destiny at all.” Peter loved Jesus and did not want him to suffer. Yet Jesus rebuked Peter because He realized that to fulfill God’s will would involve both suffering and being put to death by opposers.—Matthew 16:21-23.
12. What advice may well-meaning persons give youths, and why?
12 Similarly, some parents or friends may discourage you from a self-sacrificing course. Because of ill-advised sentiment, they may hesitate to encourage you to take an assignment in the full-time pioneer ministry, to serve as a missionary, or to do volunteer work at a branch office of Jehovah’s Witnesses. They may say: ‘Why not, rather, get married and settle down close to us?’ Or, ‘You know, the work is hard at Bethel. Maybe it’s better you stay with us.’ In other words, as Peter put it, “Be kind to yourself.”
13. (a) What readjusted viewpoint did Peter express? (b) What is involved in being a true Christian?
13 Even Jehovah’s servants at times need to readjust their thinking. Peter needed to, and with a readjusted viewpoint, he wrote: “In fact, to this course you were called, because even Christ suffered for you, leaving you a model for you to follow his steps closely.” (1 Peter 2:21) Living a true Christian life involves self-sacrifice, yes, even suffering. It is not an easy course, but it is the one to which we were called as Christians. Accepting it involves ‘no longer living for ourselves, but for him who died for us.’ (2 Corinthians 5:15) Keeping in view good role models will help us to use our lives in this self-sacrificing way.
Role Models to Keep in View
14. What example did Jesus provide?
14 The model you need particularly to keep in view is the one Jesus provided. As a perfect person, he could have become the greatest athlete, musician, physician, or lawyer that the world would ever know. But his attention was focused on pleasing his heavenly Father, even while Jesus was a youth. (Luke 2:42-49) He later said: “I must declare the good news of the kingdom of God, because for this I was sent forth.” (Luke 4:43) Last summer a letter in the church magazine Ministry explained: “Our Saviour loved to get away from the multitude, and then He went from house to house—soul hunting. The one-soul audience was His delight. Then He could pour in the truth—the love of God.”—Luke 10:1-16.
15. (a) Why is house-to-house preaching a challenge? (b) What shows that the house-to-house ministry of youths is effective?
15 Granted, house-to-house preaching is not easy. It requires diligent study to understand the good news of the Kingdom and a lot of work to prepare meaningful presentations. Also, this service takes courage, since most householders are not interested, and some are even hostile. Yet, the house-to-house ministry of you young ones is having a marvelous effect, as noted in the Italian parish magazine La Voce. The writer said: “Personally, I like Jehovah’s Witnesses,” who, he explained, “come and visit you at home.” He commented: “The ones I know are impeccably mannered, soft-spoken; beautiful people too and mostly young. Beauty and youth are, when on display, most persuasive.”
16. (a) For what activity do youths deserve commendation? (b) How does the organization of Jehovah’s Witnesses compare with the churches in performing the most important work on earth?
16 Surely, you young ones who are accepting Christ as your model are to be commended! More than 12,000 youths, age 25 and under, are in the pioneer work in the United States, and tens of thousands more are pioneering elsewhere. (Psalm 110:3) Be assured that no other work you can do is more important! Even the writer in the above-mentioned church magazine said: “God says the most essential work is house-to-house visitation—soul hunting,” yet he continued, “What do you say about this? How much visitation are you and I doing? I have not seen much mention of this kind of work in MINISTRY.” Can we not be grateful that we are associated with an organization that emphasizes the requirement of imitating Jesus’ example of preaching?
17. What had Timothy accomplished while possibly still a teenager, and what shows that he may have been that young at the time?
17 Since what you will do with your life will be largely influenced by those you admire, develop admiration also for the model provided by young Timothy. Born shortly before Jesus’ death, Timothy as a young man left his family and joined the apostle Paul on his second missionary journey. A few months later a mob forced Paul and Silas to flee from Thessalonica, but not before they had made some disciples. (Acts 16:1-3; 17:1-10, 13-15) Soon afterward Paul sent Timothy into that dangerous territory to comfort these disciples in their trials. (1 Thessalonians 3:1-3) Timothy was possibly in his late teens at the time, since some 12 to 14 years later Paul still spoke about his “youth.” (1 Timothy 4:12) Do you not admire a courageous, self-sacrificing youth like that?
18. Why was Paul going to send Timothy to the Corinthians?
18 Five years after Timothy’s assignment to strengthen the brothers in Thessalonica, Paul wrote the Corinthians from Ephesus: “Become imitators of me. That is why I am sending Timothy to you, . . . and he will put you in mind of my methods in connection with Christ Jesus, just as I am teaching everywhere.” (1 Corinthians 4:16, 17) Young Timothy, having already worked five years with Paul, was well acquainted with Paul’s teaching methods. He knew how Paul had presented the message to the Ephesians, including how he had taught them “publicly and from house to house.” (Acts 20:20, 21) Having been trained well in such preaching methods, what a fine help Timothy could be to the congregations!
19. What did Paul say about Timothy more than ten years after they started serving together?
19 Another five or six years pass, and Paul is in prison in Rome. Timothy, who himself was recently released from prison, is with him. (Hebrews 13:23) Imagine the scene: Possibly using Timothy as his secretary, Paul is dictating a letter to the Philippians. Speaking deliberately, Paul proceeds: “I am hoping in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you shortly . . . For I have no one else of a disposition like his who will genuinely care for the things pertaining to you . . . 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.”—Philippians 1:1; 2:19-22.
20. What makes Timothy such an admirable role model for youths?
20 Surely, young Timothy is an admirable example! He was such a reliable, faithful companion to Paul, sticking with him through thick and thin, supporting him in the preaching work, and being willing to serve wherever he was sent. He sacrificed a so-called normal life at home, yet what contentment and satisfaction his life in God’s service brought him! Timothy was indeed ‘living no longer for himself, but for Christ who had died for him.’ (2 Corinthians 5:15) Are you moved to imitate his example?
Live for God’s New World
21. Why can we say that Timothy was spiritually minded?
21 Timothy, in effect, was living for God’s new world. He was not thinking simply of the here and now but of using his life to produce lasting benefits. (Matthew 6:19-21) Since Timothy’s father was a Greek and apparently an unbeliever, he may have urged Timothy to pursue higher education and a worldly career. But as a result of the godly instruction from his mother and grandmother, Timothy’s life was wrapped up with the Christian congregation. He pursued spiritual interests, apparently remained single at least for a time, and qualified to serve with the apostle Paul.—2 Timothy 1:5.
22. How does the School brochure highlight for youths today a life course similar to Timothy’s?
22 What about you? Will you use your youth in the way Timothy did? The brochure School and Jehovah’s Witnesses was referring to such a life course when it explained regarding Witness youths: “Their main goal in life is to serve effectively as ministers of God, and they appreciate schooling as an aid to that end. So they generally choose courses that are useful for supporting themselves in the modern world. Thus, many may take vocational courses or attend a vocational school. When they leave school they desire to obtain work that will allow them to concentrate on their principal vocation, the Christian ministry.”
23. Why should it not be hard for Christian youths to answer the question, What will I do with my life?
23 For you who really appreciate what Jehovah God and his Son have done for you, it should not be hard to answer the question, What will I do with my life? Rather than living for yourself and personal pleasure, you will use your life to do God’s will. You will live, as did Timothy, as a spiritual person.
Questions for Review
□ Why should true Christians not put worldly careers first in life?
□ What faulty advice have some given, yet what can we learn from Jesus’ answer to Peter?
□ In what ways did Jesus and Timothy provide fine role models for youths?
□ What is involved in being spiritually minded?
[Picture on page 12]
Luke, though a trained physician, put Christian pursuits first in life