Jehovah’s Sheep Need Tender Care
“Know that Jehovah is God. . . . We are his people and the sheep of his pasturage.”—PSALM 100:3.
1. How does Jehovah treat his servants?
JEHOVAH is the Great Shepherd. If we are his servants, he views us as his sheep and gives us tender care. Our heavenly Father comforts and refreshes us and leads us in “the tracks of righteousness for his name’s sake.” (Psalm 23:1-4) The Fine Shepherd, Jesus Christ, loves us so much that he surrendered his soul for us.—John 10:7-15.
2. In what condition do God’s people find themselves?
2 As recipients of tender care, we can say with the psalmist: “Serve Jehovah with rejoicing. Come in before him with a joyful cry. Know that Jehovah is God. It is he that has made us, and not we ourselves. We are his people and the sheep of his pasturage.” (Psalm 100:2, 3) Yes, we are joyful and secure. It is as though we were safe from evil predators in a sheepfold having strong stone walls.—Numbers 32:16; 1 Samuel 24:3; Zephaniah 2:6.
Willing Shepherds of the Flock
3. How do appointed Christian elders treat God’s flock?
3 No wonder we are joyful as God’s sheep! Appointed elders take the lead among us. They do not “play the prince,” lord it over us, or try to be masters over our faith. (Numbers 16:13; Matthew 20:25-28; 2 Corinthians 1:24; Hebrews 13:7) Instead, they are loving shepherds who apply the apostle Peter’s counsel: “Shepherd the flock of God in your care, not under compulsion, but willingly; neither for love of dishonest gain, but eagerly; neither as lording it over those who are God’s inheritance, but becoming examples to the flock.” (1 Peter 5:2, 3) The apostle Paul told fellow elders: “Pay attention to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the holy spirit has appointed you overseers, to shepherd the congregation of God, which he purchased with the blood of his own Son.” And how grateful the sheep are that these men appointed by holy spirit “treat the flock with tenderness”!—Acts 20:28-30.
4. For what kind of relationship with the flock was Charles T. Russell well-known?
4 Jesus gave the congregation “gifts in men,” some as “pastors,” or shepherds, who treat Jehovah’s flock in a tender way. (Ephesians 4:8, 11; King James Version) One of these men was Charles T. Russell, the Watch Tower Society’s first president. He was called Pastor Russell because of his loving and compassionate activities in shepherding the flock under the Chief Shepherd, Jesus Christ. Today, Christian elders are appointed by the Governing Body of Jehovah’s Witnesses, and care is exercised not to use such terms as “pastor,” “elder,” or “teacher” as titles. (Matthew 23:8-12) Yet, present-day elders do a pastoral, or shepherding, work for the benefit of the sheep of Jehovah’s pasturage.
5. Why should new ones get to know the appointed elders in the Christian congregation?
5 As shepherds, elders play a significant part in the spiritual progress of new ones. Hence, the new book Knowledge That Leads to Everlasting Life says on page 168: “Get to know the appointed elders in the congregation. They have much experience in applying the knowledge of God, for they have met the qualifications for overseers set forth in the Bible. (1 Timothy 3:1-7; Titus 1:5-9) Do not hesitate to approach one of them if you need spiritual help to overcome a habit or a trait that conflicts with God’s requirements. You will find that the elders follow Paul’s admonition: ‘Speak consolingly to the depressed souls, support the weak, be long-suffering toward all.’—1 Thessalonians 2:7, 8; 5:14.”
When New Ones Want to Preach
6. What procedure is followed if a Bible student wants to become a Kingdom publisher?
6 After a Bible student has taken in knowledge and has attended meetings for a while, he may want to become a Kingdom publisher, a preacher of the good news. (Mark 13:10) If so, the Witness conducting the Bible study with him should contact the presiding overseer, who will arrange for one of the elders on the Congregation Service Committee and another elder to meet with the Bible student and his teacher. The discussion will be based on the book Organized to Accomplish Our Ministry, pages 98 and 99. If these two elders see that the new one believes basic Bible teachings and has conformed to God’s principles, he will be told that he is qualified to share in the public ministry.* When he reports his ministry by turning in a field service report, it will be posted on a Congregation’s Publisher Record card made out in his name. The new one can now report his witnessing activity along with the millions of others who joyfully ‘publish the word of God.’ (Acts 13:5) An announcement that he is an unbaptized publisher will be made to the congregation.
7, 8. In what ways may an unbaptized publisher be given needed help in the ministry?
7 An unbaptized publisher needs the help of the elders and other mature Christians. For example, his spiritual progress is a matter of interest to the conductor of the Congregation Book Study he attends. The new publisher may find it hard to speak effectively in the house-to-house work. (Acts 20:20) So he is likely to welcome assistance, especially from the one who has been conducting Bible studies with him in the Knowledge book. Such practical help is appropriate, for Jesus Christ prepared his disciples for the ministry.—Mark 6:7-13; Luke 10:1-22.
8 If our ministry is to be effective, good advance preparation is essential. Therefore, the two publishers might first get together to practice presentations suggested in the monthly issues of Our Kingdom Ministry. When they begin their field service, the more experienced one might take the first door or two. After a friendly introduction, both publishers could share in giving a witness. Working together in the ministry for a few weeks may lead to fine return visits and even a home Bible study in the book Knowledge That Leads to Everlasting Life. The more experienced publisher might conduct the study for a while and then turn it over to the new Kingdom proclaimer. How happy both publishers will be if the Bible student manifests appreciation for the knowledge of God!
9. What arrangements are made when a publisher desires to be baptized?
9 As an unbaptized publisher progresses spiritually, he may make a dedication to God in prayer and want to be baptized. (Compare Mark 1:9-11.) He should make his desire for baptism known to the congregation’s presiding overseer, who will arrange for elders to review with the publisher the questions on pages 175 to 218 of Organized to Accomplish Our Ministry. The four parts into which the questions are divided may be covered in three sessions by three different elders if possible. If they agree that the unbaptized publisher has a reasonable understanding of Bible teachings and qualifies in other ways, they will tell him that he may be baptized. As a result of his dedication and baptism, he becomes ‘marked’ for salvation.—Ezekiel 9:4-6.
Meeting Special Needs
10. After completing his study of the Knowledge book and being baptized, how will a person increase his Scriptural knowledge?
10 After an individual has completed his Bible study in the Knowledge book and has been baptized, it may not be necessary to conduct a formal study with him in a second book, such as United in Worship of the Only True God.* Of course, the recently baptized person will learn much as he prepares for Christian meetings and attends them regularly. He will also acquire additional knowledge as his thirst for truth moves him to read and study Christian publications privately and to discuss Scriptural matters with fellow believers. But what if special needs arise?
11. (a) How was Apollos helped by Priscilla and Aquila? (b) What help might be given to a recently baptized young adult who is considering marriage?
11 Even Apollos, who “was well versed in the Scriptures” and taught about Jesus with correctness, benefited when the experienced Christians Priscilla and Aquila “took him into their company and expounded the way of God more correctly to him.” (Acts 18:24-26; compare Acts 19:1-7.) Therefore, suppose a recently baptized young adult is considering courtship and marriage. A more experienced Christian might help him to find information on these subjects in Watch Tower publications. For instance, helpful material along these lines appears in the book Questions Young People Ask—Answers That Work, Section 7.* The publisher who conducted the Bible study with him might discuss this material with the new one, although a regular study would not be involved.
12. What assistance might be provided for newly baptized marriage mates having problems?
12 Consider another example. Perhaps newly baptized marriage mates are having problems applying godly principles. They might consult an elder, who could spend a few evenings discussing the Scriptures with them and direct their attention to information found in Watch Tower publications. However, the elder would not reestablish a regular Bible study with the couple.
If a New One Errs
13. Why should congregation elders show mercy to a newly baptized person who errs but is repentant?
13 Elders imitate the Great Shepherd, Jehovah, who says: “I myself shall feed my sheep, . . . the broken one I shall bandage and the ailing one I shall strengthen.” (Ezekiel 34:15, 16; Ephesians 5:1) In line with that spirit, the disciple Jude urged that mercy be shown to anointed Christians who had doubts or had fallen into sin. (Jude 22, 23) Since we rightly expect much more of experienced Christians, surely mercy should be shown to a newly baptized person—a mere lamb—who errs but is repentant. (Luke 12:48; 15:1-7) Elders, who ‘judge for Jehovah,’ therefore give such sheep tender care and readjust them in a spirit of mildness.—2 Chronicles 19:6; Acts 20:28, 29; Galatians 6:1.*
14. What should be done when a recently baptized publisher commits a serious sin, and how can he be helped?
14 Suppose, then, that a recently baptized publisher formerly had a drinking problem and lapsed into overindulgence on one or two occasions. Or perhaps he overcame a long-standing tobacco habit but yielded to the temptation to smoke privately a time or two. Even though our new brother has prayed for God’s forgiveness, he should seek the help of an elder so that the sin does not become habitual. (Psalm 32:1-5; James 5:14, 15) When he mentions his error to one of the elders, that elder should try to readjust the new one in a merciful way. (Psalm 130:3) Scriptural counsel may suffice to help him to make straight paths for his feet thereafter. (Hebrews 12:12, 13) This elder would discuss the circumstances with the presiding overseer of the congregation to determine what further assistance should be given.
15. In some cases, what may be necessary when a recently baptized person sins?
15 In some cases more may be needed. If notoriety, danger to the flock, or other serious problems are involved, the body of elders would assign two elders to investigate the matter. If these elders find that the matter is sufficiently serious that a judicial committee is needed, they should report this to the body of elders. The body of elders would then appoint a judicial committee to assist the erring one. The judicial committee should deal with him in a tender way. They should strive to readjust him with the Scriptures. If he responds to the kindly efforts of the judicial committee, then they could determine whether there would be any benefit in his not being used for parts on the platform at meetings in the Kingdom Hall or if he should be allowed to comment at meetings.
16. What can elders do to help an erring one?
16 If the erring one responds, an elder or two on the judicial committee could arrange to make shepherding calls intended to bolster his faith and build his appreciation for God’s righteous standards. Each of them might work with him in the field ministry from time to time. They may have a few Scriptural discussions with him, possibly using appropriate Watchtower and Awake! articles but not establishing a regular Bible study. With such tender care, the erring one may be strengthened to resist weaknesses of the flesh in the days ahead.
17. What steps are taken if a baptized wrongdoer does not repent and abandon his sinful course?
17 Of course, having been baptized recently is no excuse for unrepentantly practicing sin. (Hebrews 10:26, 27; Jude 4) If any baptized wrongdoer does not repent and abandon his sinful course, he would be expelled from the congregation. (1 Corinthians 5:6, 11-13; 2 Thessalonians 2:11, 12; 2 John 9-11) When this action seems necessary, the body of elders will choose a judicial committee. If expulsion occurs, this brief announcement would be made: “ . . . has been disfellowshipped.”*
Help Them to “Press On to Maturity”
18. Why can we be sure that newly baptized Christians and others will always have more to learn about Jehovah and his will?
18 The vast majority of God’s servants will remain in the flock. Happily, too, every one of us will be able to draw ever closer to our heavenly Father because we will always be able to learn more about him and his will. (Ecclesiastes 3:11; James 4:8) The thousands baptized at Pentecost in 33 C.E. certainly had more to learn. (Acts 2:5, 37-41; 4:4) So did Gentiles, who lacked a Scriptural background. For instance, this was true of those baptized after Paul’s speech on the Areopagus in Athens. (Acts 17:33, 34) Today, too, newly baptized ones have more to learn and need time and help to strengthen their resolve to keep doing what is right in God’s sight.—Galatians 6:9; 2 Thessalonians 3:13.
19. How can those getting baptized be helped to “press on to maturity”?
19 Each year thousands get baptized and need assistance so that they can “press on to maturity.” (Hebrews 6:1-3) By word, example, and practical help in the ministry, you may be able to assist some to put on the new personality and “go on walking in the truth.” (3 John 4; Colossians 3:9, 10) If you are an experienced publisher, the elders may invite you to help a new fellow believer in field service or to discuss certain Scriptural points with him for a few weeks in order to strengthen his faith in God, his appreciation for Christian meetings, and so forth. The relationship of shepherds to the flock is like that of a father in exhortation and a mother in gentleness. (1 Thessalonians 2:7, 8, 11) Yet, a few elders and ministerial servants cannot care for everything needed in a congregation. All of us are like a family whose members help one another. Each of us can do something to assist our fellow worshipers. You yourself may be able to offer encouragement, console the depressed, support the weak.—1 Thessalonians 5:14, 15.
20. What can you do to spread the knowledge of God and to provide tender care for the sheep of Jehovah’s pasturage?
20 Mankind needs the knowledge of God, and as a Witness of Jehovah, you can have a joyful share in spreading it. Jehovah’s sheep need tender care, and you can play a loving role in helping to provide this. May Jehovah bless your ministry, and may he reward you for your heartfelt efforts to help the sheep of his pasturage.
At this point, the new one may obtain a copy of the book Organized to Accomplish Our Ministry.
Published by the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of New York, Inc.
Published by the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of New York, Inc.
Such an arrangement for unbaptized publishers was outlined in the article “Helping Others to Worship God,” appearing in The Watchtower of November 15, 1988, pages 15-20.
If the decision is to disfellowship and there is an appeal, announcement is held in abeyance. See pages 147-8 of the book Organized to Accomplish Our Ministry.
How Would You Answer?
□ How does Jehovah treat his sheep?
□ What is done when new ones want to preach?
□ How can fellow believers help new ones having special needs?
□ What help can elders give to those who err but are repentant?
□ How might you help a newly baptized person to “press on to maturity”?
[Picture on page 16]
Charles T. Russell was well-known as a loving shepherd of the flock
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Compassionate shepherds treat God’s flock with tenderness