Young Ones—What Will You Do With Your Life?
“The way I am directing my blows is so as not to be striking the air.”—1 COR. 9:26.
1, 2. For you to be successful as you grow toward adulthood, what do you need to have?
IF YOU were going to travel on an unfamiliar trail, you might want to take along a map and a compass. The map would help you to identify your current position and aid in plotting out a course. The compass would allow you to orient yourself. However, both the map and the compass would be of little use if you did not know where you were headed. To avoid wandering aimlessly, you would need a clearly defined destination.
2 You face a similar situation as you grow toward adulthood. You have available both a reliable map and a compass. The Bible is a map that can help you to know which path to choose. (Prov. 3:5, 6) If properly trained, your conscience can be a great help in keeping you on the right course. (Rom. 2:15) It can serve as a compass. For your life to be successful, though, you also need to know where you are headed. You need clearly defined goals.
3. What benefits of having goals does Paul refer to at 1 Corinthians 9:26?
3 The apostle Paul summed up the benefits of setting goals and endeavoring to reach them when he wrote: “The way I am running is not uncertainly; the way I am directing my blows is so as not to be striking the air.” (1 Cor. 9:26) If you have goals, you can run with certainty. Soon, you will have to make some major decisions regarding worship, employment, marriage, and family, to name a few. At times, you may feel as though you are facing a maze of options. But if you plot out your course ahead of time, basing your decisions on the truths and principles found in God’s Word, you will not be tempted to head in the wrong direction.—2 Tim. 4:4, 5.
4, 5. (a) What can happen if you do not set goals for yourself? (b) Why should your choices be governed by a desire to please God?
4 If you do not set goals for yourself, your peers and teachers are likely to influence you to do what they feel is right for you. Of course, even if you have clear goals, some may still offer their opinions. When listening to their suggestions, ask yourself, ‘Would the goals they mention help me to remember my Creator while I am young or would they distract me from doing so?’—Read Ecclesiastes 12:1.
5 Why should your choices in life be governed by a desire to please God? One reason is that Jehovah gave us every good thing we have. (Jas. 1:17) Really, everyone owes Jehovah a debt of gratitude. (Rev. 4:11) What better way could there be for you to show your appreciation than keeping Jehovah in mind when you set goals? Let us consider what goals are worth attaining and what you must do to reach them.
What Goals Can You Set?
6. What fundamental goal could you set, and why?
6 As mentioned in the preceding article, a fundamental goal that you can set is to prove to yourself that what is said in the Bible is true. (Rom. 12:2; 2 Cor. 13:5) Your peers may believe in evolution or in various false religious doctrines because others have told them that this is what they should believe. However, you can rise above such thinking when it comes to your own beliefs. Remember, Jehovah wants you to serve him with your whole mind. (Read Matthew 22:36, 37.) Our heavenly Father wants you to build your faith on evidence.—Heb. 11:1.
7, 8. (a) Setting what short-term goals will help you to strengthen your faith? (b) What will you experience as you reach some of your short-term goals?
7 To help strengthen your faith, why not set some short-term goals? One goal could be to pray each day. To help keep your prayers fresh and specific, you could make a mental or a written note of a day’s specific events that you want to include in your prayers. Be sure to mention not only the challenges you faced but also the things you enjoyed. (Phil. 4:6) Another goal is to read the Bible each day. Did you know that if you read about four pages a day, you will complete the whole Bible in just one year?* “Happy is the man . . . [whose] delight is in the law of Jehovah,” states Psalm 1:1, 2, “and in his law he reads in an undertone day and night.”
8 A third short-term goal you could set is that of preparing an answer for each congregation meeting. At first, you may want to read the answer or a scripture. Later, you could have the goal of answering in your own words. Really, each time you answer, you are offering a gift to Jehovah. (Heb. 13:15) Once you have reached some of these goals, your confidence will grow, as will your appreciation for Jehovah, and you will be ready to set long-term goals.
9. If you are not yet a Kingdom publisher, what long-term goals could you set for yourself?
9 What long-term goals could you set for yourself? If you have not yet started to proclaim the good news publicly, your long-term goal might be to become a Kingdom publisher. Once you reach this honorable goal, you will want to be regular and effective, never missing a month of service. You will also want to learn to use the Bible in the ministry. As you do, you will probably discover that you enjoy the preaching work more. You could then increase the amount of time you spend in the house-to-house work or even endeavor to conduct a Bible study. As an unbaptized publisher, what better goal could you have than to qualify for baptism and become a dedicated and baptized Witness of Jehovah God?
10, 11. What long-term goals can baptized youths set for themselves?
10 If you are already a baptized servant of Jehovah, here are some long-term goals you can reach out for. You might occasionally want to help congregations to preach in seldom worked territory. You may also choose to use your strength and good health in the auxiliary or regular pioneer work. Tens of thousands of happy pioneers will tell you that full-time service is a rewarding way to remember your Creator during your youth. These are goals that you can achieve while living at home. Your local congregation will also benefit from your reaching them.
11 Other long-term goals could lead you beyond your home congregation. For example, you could plan to serve in another area or country where the need is greater. You might want to help construct Kingdom Halls or branch facilities in foreign lands. You may even be able to enter Bethel service or become a missionary. Of course, the first milestone you will need to reach before you can move on to most of the long-term goals mentioned here is that of getting baptized. If you are not yet baptized, consider what is involved in reaching this milestone in your life.
Reaching the Goal of Baptism
12. For what reasons do some get baptized, and why are these not sufficient?
12 How would you describe the purpose of baptism? Some might think that it is to protect them from giving in to sin. Others may feel that they should get baptized because their peers have been immersed. Other young ones may want to please their parents. However, baptism is not a contract that restrains you from doing things that you would secretly like to do; nor should you get baptized in response to pressure from others. You should get baptized when you are fully aware of what being one of Jehovah’s Witnesses involves and when you are sure that you are ready and willing to take on this responsibility.—Eccl. 5:4, 5.
13. Why should you get baptized?
13 One reason to undergo baptism is that Jesus commissioned his followers to “make disciples . . . , baptizing them.” He also set an example by getting baptized. (Read Matthew 28:19, 20; Mark 1:9.) Moreover, baptism is an important step for those who want to be saved. After mentioning Noah’s constructing of the ark in which he and his family were preserved during the Flood, the apostle Peter stated: “That which corresponds to this is also now saving you, namely, baptism, . . . through the resurrection of Jesus Christ.” (1 Pet. 3:20, 21) This does not mean, though, that baptism is like an insurance policy that you obtain in case a disaster should strike. Instead, you get baptized because you love Jehovah and want to serve him with your whole heart, soul, mind, and strength.—Mark 12:29, 30.
14. Why might some hold back from baptism, but what assurance do you have?
14 Some may hesitate to get baptized out of fear that they may be disfellowshipped at a later time. Do you have this fear? If so, such fear is not necessarily unhealthy in itself. It can mean that you appreciate the serious responsibility that comes with being one of Jehovah’s Witnesses. Might there also be another reason? Maybe you are not yet convinced that living by God’s standards is the best way of life. In that case, thinking about the consequences that come to those who ignore Bible standards can help you to make up your mind. On the other hand, it could be that you love God’s standards but do not trust yourself to be able to live up to them. Actually, that can be a good sign, for it shows humility on your part. After all, the Bible says that all imperfect human hearts are treacherous. (Jer. 17:9) But you can be successful if you constantly ‘keep on guard according to God’s word.’ (Read Psalm 119:9.) Whatever reasons there are for your hesitation to get baptized, you need to resolve such issues and concerns.*
15, 16. How can you tell if you are ready for baptism?
15 How, though, can you tell whether you are ready for baptism? One way is to ask yourself such questions as: ‘Can I explain basic Bible teachings to others? Do I engage in the ministry even when my parents do not? Do I endeavor to attend all Christian meetings? Can I recall specific instances when I resisted peer pressure? Would I continue to serve Jehovah even if my parents and friends stopped doing so? Have I prayed about my relationship with God? And have I actually made an unreserved dedication to Jehovah in prayer?’
16 Baptism is a life-altering step that should not be taken lightly. Are you mature enough to consider this step seriously? Maturity means more than being able to give good talks from the platform or impressive answers during a meeting. It requires being able to make decisions based on an understanding of Bible principles. (Read Hebrews 5:14.) If you are at a stage in life where you can do that, then what lies before you is the greatest privilege of all—that of serving Jehovah wholeheartedly and living in a way that shows that you are truly dedicated to him.
17. What will help you cope with trials that may follow your baptism?
17 Immediately after baptism, you may feel a surge of enthusiasm for serving God. Soon, though, you may face trials that will test your faith and resilience. (2 Tim. 3:12) Do not feel that you have to deal with these trials alone. Seek your parents’ advice. Look to mature ones in the congregation for help. Maintain friendships with those who will support you. Never forget that Jehovah cares for you, and he will give you the strength needed to face any circumstance that may arise.—1 Pet. 5:6, 7.
How Can You Reach Your Goals?
18, 19. How can you benefit from examining your priorities?
18 Despite your best intentions, does it seem that you just never have enough time to do what you want and need to do? If so, you should examine your priorities. To illustrate: Take a plastic bucket and place several large rocks inside it. Then fill the bucket with sand. You have a bucket full of rocks and sand. Empty the bucket but keep the same sand and rocks. This time, fill the bucket with the sand first, and then try to place the rocks inside the bucket. No room? That is because you put the sand in the bucket first.
19 You face a similar challenge when managing your time. If you put things like recreation in first place, you will never seem to have enough room in your life for the big things—spiritual pursuits. But if you follow the Bible’s admonition to “make sure of the more important things,” you will find that you have room for both Kingdom interests and a measure of recreation.—Phil. 1:10.
20. If you experience anxiety and doubts as you strive to reach your goals, what should you do?
20 As you strive to reach your goals, including baptism, you may at times experience anxiety and doubts. When you do, “throw your burden upon Jehovah himself, and he himself will sustain you.” (Ps. 55:22) At present, you have the opportunity to share in the most exciting and important work in human history, a worldwide preaching and teaching campaign. (Acts 1:8) You could choose to be a spectator and watch others do this work. Or you could be part of the action. Do not hold back from contributing your talents toward furthering Kingdom interests. You will never regret serving “your Creator in the days of your youth.”—Eccl. 12:1, New International Version.
See The Watchtower, August 1, 2009, pages 15-18.
For help in this regard, see the book Questions Young People Ask—Answers That Work, Volume 2, chapter 34.
How Would You Answer?
• Why should you set goals?
• What are some goals that are worth achieving?
• What is involved in reaching the goal of baptism?
• How can examining your priorities help you to attain your goals?
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Do you have a goal of reading the Bible daily?
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What will help you to reach the goal of getting baptized?
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What lesson do you learn from this illustration?