Youths—Are You Making Spiritual Advancement?
“THOUGH I was attending Christian meetings, I had no strong desire to serve Jehovah,” says Hideo as he looks back on his junior-high-school days. “I often pictured myself being popular with my classmates and strutting down the street with a girlfriend. My goals were unclear, and I had no desire to make any spiritual advancement.” Like Hideo, many youths seem to be simply drifting along, having no desire to reach any worthwhile goals or make any progress.
If you are young, you probably get excited when you are involved in sports or a hobby. When it comes to spiritual activities, however, you may not feel that way. Is it possible to be excited about spiritual goals? Consider these words of the psalmist: “The reminder of Jehovah is trustworthy, making the inexperienced one wise. . . . The commandment of Jehovah is clean, making the eyes shine.” (Psalm 19:7, 8) God’s Word can direct “the inexperienced one” to act wisely, ‘making his eyes shine.’ Yes, you can be enthralled and elated by spiritual things. But what is needed for you to feel that way? Where should you begin?
Be Motivated to Serve God
First, you must be motivated. Consider the case of young King Josiah of Judah. When the book of the Law of Jehovah was discovered in the temple, Josiah had it read and was deeply touched by what he heard. As a result, “Josiah removed all the detestable things out of all the lands that belonged to the sons of Israel.” (2 Chronicles 34:14-21, 33) The reading of God’s Word moved Josiah to do more in promoting pure worship.
You too can cultivate a desire to serve Jehovah if you regularly read the Bible and meditate on what you read. That was what motivated Hideo. He began associating closely with an older pioneer, a full-time minister of Jehovah’s Witnesses. The pioneer was a diligent student of the Bible and endeavored to apply its teachings in his life. Greatly encouraged by the pioneer’s example, Hideo started to do the same and developed a strong desire to serve God and other people. His spiritual advancement resulted in a purposeful life.
Reading the Bible daily can be motivating for young people. Takahiro explains: “Whenever I went to bed and then realized that I had not yet done my Bible reading for the day, I would get up and do it. As a result, I felt Jehovah’s guidance. Daily Bible reading greatly contributed to my spiritual progress. Determined to have a greater share in Jehovah’s service, I took up the regular pioneer work shortly after graduating from high school. And I am enjoying it very much.”
In addition to reading the Bible, what else can help you to strengthen your motivation to praise Jehovah? Tomohiro was taught Bible truth by his mother. He says: “Not until I thoroughly studied the book Life Does Have a Purpose at the age of 19 did I feel deeply touched by Jehovah’s love and Jesus’ ransom sacrifice. That appreciation for God’s love motivated me to do more in Jehovah’s service.” (2 Corinthians 5:14, 15) Like Tomohiro, many youths are encouraged to make spiritual progress by pursuing a diligent personal study of the Bible.
Even so, what if you still lack a heartfelt desire to serve Jehovah? Is there someone you can turn to for help? The apostle Paul wrote: “For God is . . . acting within you in order for you both to will and to act.” (Philippians 2:13) If you pray to Jehovah for help, he will freely impart to you his holy spirit, which will empower you not only “to act” but also “to will.” This means that God’s holy spirit will enhance your desire to do your best in Jehovah’s service and will help you to grow spiritually. By all means, trust in Jehovah’s power and fortify your heart!
Set Your Own Goals
Once you are determined to serve Jehovah more fully, you need to set personal goals in order to make spiritual advancement. Mana, a young Christian girl, said: “Setting goals was a big help to me. Rather than going backward, I could move forward with courage. With my goals in mind, I earnestly prayed to Jehovah for guidance, and I was able to make progress without being distracted.”
Your goals should be realistic and attainable. Reading a chapter of the Bible each day can be a reasonable goal. You can also start a research project. To illustrate this with something available in English, you might study the qualities of Jehovah that are listed under the subheading “Qualities by Name” under the entry “Jehovah” in the Watch Tower Publications Index. There are about 40 entries that you can consider, and the research will no doubt draw you closer to Jehovah and stimulate you to do more for him. Other attainable goals include commenting at least once during each Christian meeting that calls for audience participation, getting to know better at least one member of the congregation at every meeting, and not letting a day pass by without praying to Jehovah and speaking about him to others.
If you have not yet enrolled in the Theocratic Ministry School, that would be a good goal for you. Have you been participating in the public ministry? If not, you may want to work toward becoming an unbaptized publisher. Seriously considering your relationship with Jehovah and dedicating yourself to him would naturally be the next step. Many youths endeavor to live up to their dedication by reaching out for the full-time ministry.
Perhaps you feel that you are inexperienced and find it hard to set reasonable goals. Then follow the Bible’s counsel: “Incline your ear and hear the words of the wise ones.” (Proverbs 22:17) Enlist the help of your parents or other mature Christians. Parents and others, of course, need to be reasonable and encouraging in this matter. Feeling pressured into striving toward a goal others set for them can rob young ones of joy and may even defeat the purpose of setting goals. That happened to one girl, who said: “My parents set one goal after another for me, such as enrolling in the Theocratic Ministry School, sharing in field service, getting baptized, and becoming a pioneer. I made strenuous efforts to reach each one of them. When I attained one goal, my parents did not commend me but, instead, gave me another goal to strive for. As a result, I always felt driven to reach goals. I was exhausted and felt no sense of accomplishment.” What went wrong? All the goals were valid, but they were not her own. To succeed, you must be motivated to take the initiative in setting a goal for yourself!
Think of Jesus Christ. When he came to the earth, he knew what his Father, Jehovah, expected of him. Doing Jehovah’s will was, not just a goal for Jesus, but a mission to be fulfilled. How did Jesus view his assignment? He said: “My food is for me to do the will of him that sent me and to finish his work.” (John 4:34) Jesus delighted in doing Jehovah’s will and lived up to his Father’s expectations. It was like food for Jesus—he found pleasure and satisfaction in finishing the work that was expected of him. (Hebrews 10:5-10) You too can find delight when you are properly motivated to do what your parents encourage you to do.
Do Not Give Up in Doing What Is Fine
Once you have a goal in mind, work hard to achieve it. Galatians 6:9 says: “Let us not give up in doing what is fine, for in due season we shall reap if we do not tire out.” Do not rely on your own strength or ability alone. You are bound to run into obstacles and at times may even experience a temporary sense of failure. But the Bible assures us: “In all your ways take notice of [God], and he himself will make your paths straight.” (Proverbs 3:6) Jehovah will sustain you as you work hard to reach your spiritual goals.
Yes, by cultivating the desire to serve Jehovah and by reaching out toward spiritual goals, you will be able to make ‘your advancement manifest to all persons.’ (1 Timothy 4:15) Then you will enjoy a meaningful life of service to God.
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Reading the Bible and meditating on what you have read will motivate you to serve Jehovah
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Jesus lived up to his Father’s expectations