Pursuing God’s Purpose Today
“[Christ] died for all that those who live might live no longer for themselves.”—2 CORINTHIANS 5:15.
1. Recount an experience one missionary had in his assignment.
“OURS was the first civilian vehicle to enter the remote African village after civil war had ended,” recalled a missionary named Aaron.a “Communication with the little congregation there had been cut off, and we had to see to the needs of the brothers. In addition to food, clothing, and Bible literature, we brought a copy of the video Jehovah’s Witnesses—The Organization Behind the Name.b So many interested people flocked to see it at the village ‘theater’—a large grass hut with a VCR and a TV—that we had to show it twice. Many Bible studies resulted from each showing. Clearly, all our efforts were worthwhile.”
2. (a) Why do Christians resolve to use their life in God’s service? (b) What questions will we now consider?
2 Why did Aaron and his companions undertake such a strenuous mission? Because, in gratitude for Jesus Christ’s ransom sacrifice, they have dedicated their life to God and they want to use it in harmony with God’s purpose. Like them, all dedicated Christians have resolved to “live no longer for themselves” but to do all they can “for the sake of the good news.” (2 Corinthians 5:15; 1 Corinthians 9:23) They know that when time runs out for this system of things, all the money and prestige in the world will be of no value. So having life and a measure of health, they want to use these assets in harmony with God’s purpose. (Ecclesiastes 12:1) How can we do this? Where can we find the needed courage and strength to do so? And what avenues of service are open to us?
Taking Progressive, Practical Steps
3. What basic steps are involved in doing God’s will?
3 For true Christians, doing God’s will is a lifelong endeavor. It usually begins with such basic steps as enrolling in the Theocratic Ministry School, reading the Bible daily, sharing in the preaching work, and advancing to baptism. As progress is made, we bear in mind the apostle Paul’s words: “Ponder over these things; be absorbed in them, that your advancement may be manifest to all persons.” (1 Timothy 4:15) Such advancement is not self-promotion but a reflection of our determination to do God’s will unselfishly. Taking such a course shows that we allow God to guide our steps in all matters of life, and he does so infinitely better than we could ever do.—Psalm 32:8.
4. How can we put needless fears aside?
4 Hesitation or too much self-concern, however, can be an impediment to our making progress in our service to God. (Ecclesiastes 11:4) Thus, before we can find true joy in serving God and others, we may first have to overcome our own fears. Erik, for example, was contemplating serving in a foreign-language congregation. But he worried: ‘Will I fit in? Will I like the brothers? Will they like me?’ He relates: “I finally realized that I needed to be more concerned about the brothers than about myself. I resolved to stop worrying and just to give unselfishly in whatever way I could. I prayed for help and went ahead. Now, I enjoy my service there immensely.” (Romans 4:20) Yes, to the extent that we serve God and others unselfishly, we will find joy and contentment.
5. Why is careful planning needed in our pursuit of God’s purpose? Illustrate.
5 To pursue God’s purpose successfully also requires that we carefully plan our steps. We wisely avoid piling up debts that can enslave us to this system and limit our freedom to do God’s work. The Bible reminds us: “The borrower is servant to the man doing the lending.” (Proverbs 22:7) Trusting in Jehovah and putting spiritual things first help us to keep matters in focus. For instance, Guoming and his two sisters live with their mother in an area where housing costs are high and steady employment can be hard to find. By making careful use of funds and by sharing expenses, they get along even when not all of them are employed. “At times, we do not all have income,” says Guoming. “Still, we can continue in the pioneer ministry and also take good care of our mother. We are grateful that Mom does not want us to forgo spiritual pursuits in order to provide her with life’s luxuries.”—2 Corinthians 12:14; Hebrews 13:5.
6. What example shows how we can bring our life in line with God’s purpose?
6 If you are deeply involved in secular pursuits—financial or otherwise—putting God’s purpose first may require major adjustments. Such changes cannot usually be made overnight, and stumbling during your first attempts should not be regarded as a failure. Consider Koichi, who had a problem spending excessive time in recreation. Koichi had studied the Bible as a teenager, but for many years, video games dominated his life. One day Koichi said to himself: ‘What are you doing? You’re in your 30’s, and you’re not doing anything purposeful with your life!’ Koichi resumed his study of the Bible and accepted help from the congregation. Though change came gradually, he did not give up. With much prayer and with loving support from others, he finally broke free from his obsession. (Luke 11:9) Koichi now happily serves as a ministerial servant.
Learn to Be Balanced
7. Why do we need to be balanced in doing God’s work?
7 Pursuing God’s purpose merits our whole-souled effort. We should never be self-sparing or lazy in doing so. (Hebrews 6:11, 12) Still, Jehovah does not want us to drive ourselves to exhaustion—physically, mentally, or emotionally. Modestly acknowledging that we cannot accomplish God’s work in our own strength glorifies him and also shows balance on our part. (1 Peter 4:11) Jehovah promises to give us the necessary strength to do his will, but we must not push ourselves beyond our limits, trying to do things he does not expect of us. (2 Corinthians 4:7) To keep on serving God without wearing ourselves out, we need to budget our energies.
8. What happened when one young Christian tried to give her best both to the world and to Jehovah, and what adjustment did she make?
8 For instance, for two years Ji Hye, who lives in East Asia, worked at a high-pressure job while pioneering. “I tried to give my best both to Jehovah and to the world,” she relates, “but I was sleeping only five hours a night. Eventually, I had no mental energy left for the truth, and I found little joy in spiritual things.” In order to serve Jehovah with her ‘whole heart, soul, mind, and strength,’ Ji Hye searched for less-demanding employment. (Mark 12:30) “Despite pressure from my family to seek financial success, I endeavored to put God’s purpose first,” she says. “I still earn enough money for basics, such as presentable clothing. And it feels good to get more sleep! I find joy in my ministry, and I am spiritually stronger now. That is because I’m not so exposed to the attractions and distractions of the world.”—Ecclesiastes 4:6; Matthew 6:24, 28-30.
9. How may our efforts affect people in the field?
9 Not everyone can serve God as a full-time evangelizer. If you must contend with old age, poor health, or other limitations, know that Jehovah warmly appreciates your faithfulness and whatever wholehearted service you can offer. (Luke 21:2, 3) None of us, for that matter, should underestimate the effect that our efforts, even if limited, can have on others. For example, suppose that we called on a few homes and found no one who seemed interested in our message. After we leave, the householders might talk about our call for hours or days, even where no one opened the door to us! We do not expect that everyone who hears the good news will respond favorably, but some will. (Matthew 13:19-23) Others may respond later when conditions in the world or in their life change. In any case, by doing what we can in the public ministry, we are doing God’s work. We are “God’s fellow workers.”—1 Corinthians 3:9.
10. What opportunities are open to all in the congregation?
10 In addition, all of us can help our family members and our spiritual brothers and sisters. (Galatians 6:10) Our good influence on others can be profound and long lasting. (Ecclesiastes 11:1, 6) When elders and ministerial servants carry out their duties diligently, they contribute to the spiritual health and stability of the congregation, and Christian activity increases. We are assured that when we have “plenty to do in the work of the Lord,” our labor “is not in vain.”—1 Corinthians 15:58.
Pursuing God’s Purpose as a Career
11. Besides working with the local congregation, we may have what other opportunities?
11 As Christians, we enjoy life, and we wish to glorify God in everything we do. (1 Corinthians 10:31) When we faithfully apply ourselves to preaching the Kingdom good news and teaching others to observe all the things that Jesus commanded, we will find many rewarding avenues of service open to us. (Matthew 24:14; 28:19, 20) Besides working with the local congregation, we may have opportunities to serve where there is a greater need, whether in another territory, language, or country. Qualified elders and ministerial servants who are not yet married may be invited to attend the Ministerial Training School, thereafter to serve in congregations where there is a need for the help of mature Christians, either in their home countries or abroad. Married couples who are in the full-time ministry may qualify to receive Gilead missionary training and to serve in a foreign assignment. And there is an ongoing need for volunteers to do a variety of tasks at Bethel and in building and maintaining meeting places and branch offices.
12, 13. (a) How can you decide which avenues of service to pursue? (b) Illustrate how the experience gained in one assignment can be useful in others.
12 Which avenues of service should you pursue? As a dedicated servant of Jehovah, always look to him and to his organization for direction. His “good spirit” will help you make the right decision. (Nehemiah 9:20) One assignment often leads to another, and the experience and skills acquired in one form of service may be useful in another assignment later.
13 For instance, Dennis and his wife, Jenny, regularly support Kingdom Hall building projects. After Hurricane Katrina hit the southern United States, they volunteered for relief work. Dennis reports: “Using the skills that we developed in building Kingdom Halls to help our brothers has brought us great joy. The appreciation shown by those whom we have helped is truly touching. Most other relief groups have had limited success in rebuilding. Jehovah’s Witnesses have already repaired or rebuilt more than 5,300 homes and numerous Kingdom Halls. People observe this and now show greater interest in our message.”
14. What can you do if you desire to pursue the full-time ministry?
14 Can you pursue God’s purpose by choosing the full-time ministry as your career? If so, you are sure to receive many blessings. If your present circumstances do not permit it, perhaps an adjustment can be made. Pray as did Nehemiah when he longed to take up an important assignment: “Ah, Jehovah, please, . . . do grant success to your servant.” (Nehemiah 1:11) Then, trusting in the “Hearer of prayer,” follow up your request with action. (Psalm 65:2) For Jehovah to bless your efforts to serve him more fully, you first have to make those efforts. Once you have decided to take up the full-time ministry, stick with your decision. As time passes, your experience will grow, and your joy will increase.
A Life Truly Worthwhile
15. (a) How do we benefit by talking to and reading about longtime servants of God? (b) Cite a life story that you have found particularly encouraging.
15 What results can you expect from pursuing God’s purpose? Speak with longtime servants of Jehovah, especially those who have spent many years in the full-time ministry. What rich, purposeful lives they live! (Proverbs 10:22) They will tell you that Jehovah has never failed to help them to obtain even in difficult circumstances what they really need and much more. (Philippians 4:11-13) From 1955 to 1961, The Watchtower published a series of life stories of faithful ones under the heading “Pursuing My Purpose in Life.” Since then, hundreds of other life stories have been published. Each account projects a spirit of zeal and joy that reminds us of that found in the Bible book of Acts. Reading such stirring accounts will move you to say, ‘That is the kind of life I want to live!’
16. What makes a Christian’s life purposeful and happy?
16 Aaron, mentioned at the outset, recalls: “In Africa, I often met young people who were drifting across the country in search of a purpose in life. Most never found one. But here we were, pursuing God’s purpose by promoting the good news of the Kingdom, and we enjoyed a challenging and meaningful life. We have experienced firsthand that there is more happiness in giving than there is in receiving.”—Acts 20:35.
17. Why must we be pursuing God’s purpose now?
17 What about you? What purpose are you pursuing? If you do not have a clear spiritual objective, other pursuits will rush in to fill the vacuum. Why squander your precious life on the fantasy world of Satan’s system? Not far in the future when the “great tribulation” strikes, material riches and worldly positions will be worthless. What will matter is our relationship with Jehovah. How grateful we will be that we have served God and others and have fully pursued God’s purpose in our life!—Matthew 24:21; Revelation 7:14, 15.
a Some names have been changed.
b Published by Jehovah’s Witnesses.
Can You Explain?
• How does Jehovah feel about our service to him?
• How does being practical and balanced help us to serve God and others?
• What opportunities to serve are open to us?
• How can we lead a truly purposeful life now?
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Balance is needed for us to keep on serving Jehovah whole-souled
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Sacred service takes many forms