Do You Long to Serve More Fully?
“I WAS angry with Jehovah,” says Laura. “I prayed and prayed that he would help us fix our financial problems so that I could continue to pioneer—but to no avail. I finally had to get off the pioneer list. I must also admit that I was jealous of those who could continue.”
Consider, too, the case of Michael, a ministerial servant in a congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses. He had been reaching out for the office of overseer. (1 Timothy 3:1) When his longing went unfulfilled for several years, he became so bitter that he no longer wanted to be considered for the privilege. “I just couldn’t bear the pain of disappointment again,” he says.
Have you had a similar experience? Have you had to relinquish a beloved theocratic privilege? For instance, have you had to stop serving as a pioneer, a full-time Kingdom proclaimer? Or do you long for certain congregation responsibilities entrusted to others? It may even be that you keenly desire to serve at Bethel or as a missionary, but your circumstances do not allow it.
“Expectation postponed is making the heart sick,” acknowledges the book of Proverbs. (Proverbs 13:12) This may especially be so when others receive the very privileges that you hope for. Does God’s Word provide insight, comfort, and hope for any who experience such disappointments? Yes, it does. In fact, the 84th Psalm expresses the sentiments of a servant of Jehovah who had similar unfulfilled desires regarding Jehovah’s service.
A Levite’s Appreciation
The composers of the 84th Psalm were the sons of Korah, Levites who served at Jehovah’s temple and highly esteemed their service privileges. “How lovely your grand tabernacle is, O Jehovah of armies!” one of them exclaims. “My soul has yearned and also pined away for the courtyards of Jehovah. My own heart and my very flesh cry out joyfully to the living God.”—Psalm 84:1, 2.
This Levite had such a longing to serve at Jehovah’s temple that even the ordinary scenery along the way to Jerusalem appeared attractive to him. “Passing along through the low plain of the baca bushes,” he says, “they turn it into a spring itself.” (Psalm 84:6) Yes, a normally dry area was like a well-watered region.
Because the psalmist was a nonpriestly Levite, he could serve at the temple for only one week every six months. (1 Chronicles 24:1-19; 2 Chronicles 23:8; Luke 1:5, 8, 9) The rest of his time was spent at home in one of the Levite cities. He therefore sang: “Even the bird itself has found a house, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she has put her young ones—your grand altar, O Jehovah of armies, my King and my God!” (Psalm 84:3) How happy the Levite would have been if he was like the birds that had a more permanent dwelling place at the temple!
It would have been easy for the Levite to give in to bitterness because he could not serve at the temple more often. However, he was pleased to serve as he could, and he surely realized that wholehearted devotion to Jehovah is worth the effort. What helped this faithful Levite to remain content with his service privileges?
Learn to Be Content
“A day in your courtyards is better than a thousand elsewhere,” says the Levite. “I have chosen to stand at the threshold in the house of my God rather than to move around in the tents of wickedness.” (Psalm 84:10) He appreciated that spending even one day at Jehovah’s house is an inestimable privilege. And the Levite had far more than one day to serve at the temple. His contentment with his privileges made him sing for joy.
What about us? Do we count our blessings, or do we tend to forget what we already have in Jehovah’s service? Because of their devotion to him, Jehovah has entrusted to his people a wide range of privileges and duties. These include the heavier responsibilities of oversight, shepherding, teaching, and various features of the full-time service. But they also involve other precious things having to do with Jehovah’s worship.
For example, consider the Christian ministry. The apostle Paul likens our privilege of preaching the good news to our having a “treasure in earthen vessels.” (2 Corinthians 4:7) Do you look upon such service as a priceless treasure? Jesus Christ, who spearheaded Kingdom-preaching activity, viewed it that way, setting the pattern. (Matthew 4:17) “Since we have this ministry . . . , we do not give up,” said Paul.—2 Corinthians 4:1.
Christian meetings are also a sacred provision not to be taken lightly. At our meetings, we receive vital instruction and enjoy needed fellowship. At meetings we can also make public expression of our faith and hope by commenting regularly and by sharing in the program in other ways. (Hebrews 10:23-25) Our meetings are indeed a provision to be cherished!
Michael, mentioned earlier, valued these blessings highly and appreciated them deeply. But his disappointment at not being able to serve as an elder pushed his appreciation for them into the background temporarily. By refocusing on them, he was able to regain his equilibrium and patiently wait on Jehovah.
Rather than feeling discontent because of not having a certain privilege, we do well to reexamine the ways that Jehovah is blessing us, as did the psalmist.a If we fail to see much, we need to look again, asking Jehovah to open our eyes to see our privileges and the ways that he is blessing us and using us to his praise.—Proverbs 10:22.
It is also important to realize that special privileges, such as the office of overseer, call for specific qualifications. (1 Timothy 3:1-7; Titus 1:5-9) So we need to examine ourselves, looking for any areas where improvement is needed and then make earnest efforts to improve.—1 Timothy 4:12-15.
Do Not Become Discouraged
If we do not receive a certain privilege of service, we need not conclude that Jehovah has more love for those who do enjoy it or that he is holding back good from us. Surely, we should not enviously assume that these others have undeservedly obtained their privileges through human favoritism instead of theocratic appointment. Brooding over such ideas may lead to jealousy, contention, and even to our giving up altogether.—1 Corinthians 3:3; James 3:14-16.
Laura, mentioned at the outset, did not give up. She eventually came to grips with her feelings of anger and jealousy. Laura repeatedly prayed to God for help to overcome her negative reaction to her being unable to pioneer. She also sought assistance from qualified men in the congregation and felt reassured of God’s love. “Jehovah gave me peace of mind,” she said. “While my husband and I can’t pioneer now, we cherish the time when we did and draw strength from experiences that we had. We also help our grown son in his pioneering.” Being content, Laura is now able to “rejoice with people who rejoice” in their pioneer service.—Romans 12:15.
Set Attainable Goals
Our being content with current service privileges does not require that we stop setting further theocratic goals. In discussing the heavenly resurrection, Paul spoke of “stretching forward to the things ahead.” He also said: “To what extent we have made progress, let us go on walking orderly in this same routine.” (Philippians 3:13-16) Theocratic goals can help us stretch forward. The challenge, however, is to keep them realistic.
Realistic goals are reasonable and attainable. (Philippians 4:5) This does not mean that a goal requiring several years of hard work is unrealistic. Such a long-range goal can be reached gradually by setting a series of intermediate goals, or steps. These can serve as markers for spiritual progress. Successfully completing each step will provide a sense of satisfaction along the way rather than disappointment.
A Fine Balance
It is important to recognize, however, that because of our circumstances and limitations, some privileges may not be received. Setting them as goals leads only to disappointment and frustration. Such goals should be set aside, at least for the time being. Doing this will not be difficult if we pray for godly contentment and make the doing of Jehovah’s will our chief concern. When we reach out for privileges, Jehovah’s glory—not the recognition of our personal accomplishments—is important. (Psalm 16:5, 6; Matthew 6:33) The Bible appropriately tells us: “Roll your works upon Jehovah himself and your plans will be firmly established.”—Proverbs 16:3.
In considering the 84th Psalm, we can see that the psalmist manifested such an attitude toward service privileges, and Jehovah blessed him richly. Moreover, this psalm continues to benefit Jehovah’s people down to this day.
With prayerful reliance upon Jehovah, you can balance your longing for additional privileges with contentment with those you now enjoy. Never let the desire to do more rob you of appreciation for what you have now and the joy of serving Jehovah forever. Trust in Jehovah, for this results in happiness, as shown in the Levite’s words: “O Jehovah of armies, happy is the man that is trusting in you.”—Psalm 84:12.
a Please see the article “Do You Appreciate Sacred Things?” in the June 15, 1988, issue of The Watchtower.
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Goals We Might Set
Improving our perceptive powers through Scriptural training.—Hebrews 5:14
Developing a closer relationship with God.—Psalm 73:28
Cultivating each of the fruits of the spirit.—Galatians 5:22, 23
Improving the quality of our prayers.—Philippians 4:6, 7
Becoming more effective in preaching and teaching.—1 Timothy 4:15, 16
Reading and meditating on each issue of the Watchtower and Awake! magazines.—Psalm 49:3
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In setting personal goals, put the doing of God’s will first