Are You a Balanced Pioneer?
THE father’s eyes beam as he waits with open arms for his daughter to take her first halting steps. When she suddenly topples, he encourages her to try again. He knows that she will soon gain her balance and strength.
In a similar way, a new pioneer minister may need time and encouragement before he or she attains the balance needed to succeed as a full-time Kingdom proclaimer. Many pioneers continue serving joyfully for decades. A few are thrown off balance by unexpected changes in their circumstances. Some even lose their joy. In one country, 20 percent of those who start pioneering stop within the first two years of their full-time service. What might take a pioneer out of this most joyful service? Can anything be done to avoid these setbacks?
Although poor health, financial needs, and family responsibilities may cause some to leave the full-time ministry, a stumbling block for others has been the failure to maintain good balance between various Christian obligations. Balance implies “a state in which no one part, element, factor, or influence overweights another or is out of due proportion to the others.”
Jesus Christ showed his disciples how the work of preaching and disciple making was to be done. In his own ministry, he also illustrated how balance is maintained. Jesus showed that the Jewish religious leaders lacked balance, telling them: “You give the tenth of the mint and the dill and the cumin, but you have disregarded the weightier matters of the Law, namely, justice and mercy and faithfulness. These things it was binding to do, yet not to disregard the other things.”—Matthew 23:23.
This principle applies equally well today, especially to the pioneer ministry. Impelled by enthusiasm and good intent, some have taken up pioneering without fully preparing for it or considering all that it involves. (Luke 14:27, 28) Others have become so absorbed in the field ministry that they have overlooked other important aspects of Christianity. How can they achieve and maintain balance?
Keep Spiritually Strong!
Jesus never neglected his spirituality. Even though the crowds that came to hear him and to be healed made unusual demands on his time, he took time out for meditative prayer. (Mark 1:35; Luke 6:12) Balanced pioneering today also requires that one make ample use of all provisions to keep spiritually strong. Paul reasoned: “Do you, however, the one teaching someone else, not teach yourself?” (Romans 2:21) It would certainly be a mistake to fill up all one’s time with preaching to others while neglecting to make time for adequate personal study and regular prayer.
Kumiko has been a pioneer for two decades. Though she has three children and an unbelieving husband, she has found through experience that the best time for her to read and study the Bible is just before her bedtime. As she studies, she particularly notes points that she can use in the field ministry so that she can keep her daily ministry fresh and interesting. Other successful pioneers get up before the rest of the family to enjoy spiritual recharging in the quiet morning hours. You may have other appropriate times set aside to prepare for meetings and keep up with the latest Christian publications. If you desire to maintain the joy of the ministry, personal study is not something that can be rushed or neglected.
Balancing Family Responsibilities
Pioneering parents also need to keep in mind that a large part of “the will of Jehovah” for them involves caring for the physical, emotional, and spiritual needs of their own family. (Ephesians 5:17; 6:1-4; 1 Timothy 5:8) Sometimes even a believing mate and family members fear that they will not receive comfort and support from the wife and mother once she starts pioneering. Such feelings result in a less-than-enthusiastic response to her desire to become a pioneer. With good planning and forethought, however, balance can be maintained.
Many pioneers endeavor to do all of their preaching work when family members are away from home. Kumiko, mentioned earlier, is with her family as they eat their breakfast, sees her husband and children off in the morning, and is back home before they return. She uses Mondays to cook several meals in advance so that she can be relaxed and can eat meals with her family instead of busying herself in the kitchen. Doing more than one chore at a time, such as other housework while preparing meals, also helps. In that way Kumiko even finds time to invite her children’s friends over and to prepare special treats for them.
As children grow into their teenage years, they often need more attention from their parents in coping with the new emotions, desires, doubts, and fears flooding over them. This calls for alertness and adjustment in the schedule of a parent who is a pioneer. Consider Hisako, a pioneering mother of three. What did she do when her oldest daughter began to display a lack of joy and enthusiasm for Christian meetings and field service because of the pull of worldly school friends? The real need was for her daughter to make the truth her own and become fully convinced that separateness from the world was the best course.—James 4:4.
Hisako states: “I decided to study with her the basic doctrines in the Live Forever book again on a daily basis. At first we could only study for a few minutes, with my daughter often complaining of severe stomachaches and headaches when it was time for the study. But I had the study regularly. After a few months, her spirit greatly improved, leading in just a short time to her dedication and baptism.” Now Hisako is enjoying the full-time ministry together with her daughter.
Pioneering fathers also need to be careful that they do not become so wrapped up in caring for interested ones in the field and for their congregation duties that they fail to give their growing children the strong emotional support and direction they deserve. This is not something that a man should shift to his wife. A busy Christian elder who has long been a pioneer and who also manages a small business makes time to study with each of his four children individually. (Ephesians 6:4) In addition, he prepares for the weekly meetings with his family. Balanced pioneers do not neglect their families materially or spiritually.
A proper view of daily needs is another area wherein pioneers should endeavor to maintain good balance. Here again, we can learn much from Jesus’ fine example and counsel. He warned against being overly anxious about material concerns. Instead, he encouraged his disciples to put the Kingdom first, promising that God would care for them as he does for the rest of his creation. (Matthew 6:25-34) By following this good counsel, many pioneers have been able to remain in full-time service for years, and Jehovah has blessed their efforts to obtain ‘bread for each day.’—Matthew 6:11.
The apostle Paul counseled fellow Christians to ‘let their reasonableness become known to all men.’ (Philippians 4:5) Surely, reasonableness would require that we take appropriate care of our health. Balanced pioneers make every effort to show reasonableness in their way of life and in their attitude toward material things, knowing that others observe their conduct.—Compare 1 Corinthians 4:9.
Youths who take up the pioneer service should refrain from taking undue advantage of their parents’ generosity. If they are living in their parents’ home, it would be a display of good balance and appreciation to share in household chores and to have a part-time job that would enable them to contribute toward the cost of running the home.—2 Thessalonians 3:10.
Balanced Pioneers a Real Blessing
You may be a pioneer who is working hard to keep proper balance. Be confident. Just as a small child needs time to learn to balance himself and walk, many mature pioneers say that it took time for them to achieve balance in caring for all their duties.
Engaging in personal study, caring for family members, and supplying their own material needs are among the areas in which pioneers strive for balance. Reports show that many pioneers fulfill their responsibilities in an outstanding way. They are truly a blessing to the community and a credit to Jehovah and his organization.