“You young men and young women, . . . praise the name of Jehovah.”—PS. 148:12, 13.
1. What wonderful opportunities are many young Christians enjoying?
WE LIVE in momentous times. As never before in history, millions from all nations are turning to true worship. (Rev. 7:9, 10) Many young people are enjoying thrilling experiences as they help others to understand lifesaving Bible truths. (Rev. 22:17) Some youths are conducting Bible studies, helping people to enjoy a better quality of life. Others are zealously taking the good news into foreign-language territories. (Ps. 110:3; Isa. 52:7) How could you enjoy having a more satisfying share in what Jehovah’s people are doing?
2. How does Timothy’s example show that Jehovah is willing to entrust young people with responsibilities? (See opening image.)
2 As a youth, you can make choices that may later open up enjoyable opportunities for you in God’s service. For example, Timothy of Lystra evidently made wise choices that led to his receiving a missionary assignment when he was perhaps in his late teens or early 20’s. (Acts 16:1-3) It appears that only a few months later, after violent opposition had forced the apostle Paul to leave the newly formed congregation in Thessalonica, Paul entrusted young Timothy with the mission of returning to Thessalonica to strengthen the brothers. (Acts 17:5-15; 1 Thess. 3:1, 2, 6) Can you imagine how receiving that assignment must have made Timothy feel?
YOUR MOST IMPORTANT CHOICE
3. What is the most important choice you can make in life, and when can you make it?
3 Youth is a time for making important choices. But one choice is more important than all others—your decision to serve Jehovah. When is the best time to make that choice? Jehovah says: “Remember . . . your Grand Creator in the days of your youth.” (Eccl. 12:1) The only acceptable way to “remember” Jehovah is to serve him fully. (Deut. 10:12) Your decision to serve God with all your heart is the most important choice you will ever make. It will shape your entire future.—Ps. 71:5.
4. Besides choosing to serve Jehovah, what other key choices in life will affect how you serve God?
4 Of course, your choice to serve Jehovah is not the only choice that affects your future. For example, you may also wonder about whether you will marry, whom you might marry, and how you will earn a living. These are vital decisions, but you are wise to choose first whether you want to serve Jehovah as fully as possible. (Deut. 30:19, 20) Why? Because the choices are interrelated. What you decide about marriage and employment will affect how you serve God. (Compare Luke 14:16-20.) Conversely, your desire to serve God will affect your choices about marriage and employment. So decide on matters of primary importance first.—Phil. 1:10.
WHAT WILL YOU DO IN YOUR YOUTH?
5, 6. Illustrate how making the right choices can lead to fine experiences later. (See also the article “What I Chose as a Child” in this issue.)
5 Once you have chosen to serve God, you can contemplate what he wants you to do, and you can decide how you will serve him. A Japanese brother writes: “When I was 14, I was out preaching with a congregation elder who noticed that I was not enjoying the ministry. Gently, he said to me: ‘Go home, Yuichiro. Sit down at your desk and think carefully about what Jehovah has done for you.’ I did as he said. In fact, I continued thinking and praying for some days. Gradually, my attitude changed. Soon, I found that I enjoyed serving Jehovah. I enjoyed reading about missionaries, and I began to think about serving God more fully.
6 “I decided to start making choices that would one day enable me to serve Jehovah overseas,” continues Yuichiro. “For example, I chose to take a course in English. When I left school, I chose part-time work teaching English so that I could pioneer. When I was 20, I started learning Mongolian and I had a chance to visit a Mongolian group of publishers. Two years later, in 2007, I visited Mongolia. When I went out preaching with some of the pioneers and saw that many people were seeking the truth, I wanted to move there and help. I returned to Japan to make my plans. I have been pioneering in Mongolia since April 2008. Life is not easy here. But people are responding to the good news, and I am able to help them to draw close to Jehovah. I feel that what I chose is the very best way of life.”
7. What choices must we make for ourselves, and what example did Moses set for us?
7 Each person must make his own choice about how he will spend his life as one of Jehovah’s Witnesses. (Josh. 24:15) We cannot tell you whether to marry, whom to marry, or what employment to get. Will you choose a job that requires only a little training? Some of you young Christians live in poor villages; others live in prosperous cities. Worldwide, you vary greatly in personality, ability, experience, interests, and faith. You probably differ as much as the Hebrew youths in ancient Egypt differed from young Moses. He had all the opportunities of the royal court, while other Hebrews were slaves. (Ex. 1:13, 14; Acts 7:21, 22) Like you, they lived in momentous times. (Ex. 19:4-6) Each had to choose what he would do with his life. Moses made the right choice.—Read Hebrews 11:24-27.
8. What help is available for young people who are contemplating their choices in life?
8 Jehovah helps you to make wise choices during your youth. He provides advice in the form of principles that you can apply in your unique circumstances. (Ps. 32:8) In addition, your believing parents and the congregation elders can help you to reason on how to apply these principles. (Prov. 1:8, 9) Let us consider three basic Bible principles that can help you to make wise choices that will affect your future in a beneficial way.
THREE BIBLE PRINCIPLES TO GUIDE YOU
9. (a) How does Jehovah dignify us with freedom of choice? (b) ‘Seeking first the Kingdom’ creates what opportunities?
9 Seek first God’s Kingdom and his righteousness. (Read Matthew 6:19-21, 24-26, 31-34.) Jehovah dignifies us with freedom of choice. He does not say how much of your youth you should devote to preaching about the Kingdom. But Jesus did give us the helpful principle to seek the Kingdom first. The way you apply what he said will allow you opportunities to express your love for God, your concern for your neighbors, and your appreciation for the hope of everlasting life. As you ponder marriage and employment, consider whether your choices will cause you anxiety over your material needs or will demonstrate your zeal for God’s Kingdom and his righteousness.
10. What made Jesus happy, and what choices will make you happy?
10 Find happiness in serving others. (Read Acts 20:20, 21, 24, 35.) Jesus kindly taught us this fundamental principle of life. He was a very happy person because he did his Father’s will rather than his own. Jesus enjoyed seeing meek people respond to the good news. (Luke 10:21; John 4:34) Perhaps you have already experienced the happiness that results from helping others. If you base your major choices in life on the principles Jesus taught, you will surely bring happiness to yourself as well as to Jehovah.—Prov. 27:11.
11. Why did Baruch lose his joy, and what counsel did Jehovah give him?
11 Our greatest happiness comes from serving Jehovah. (Prov. 16:20) Jeremiah’s secretary, Baruch, apparently forgot that. At one point in time, he was no longer enjoying Jehovah’s service. Jehovah told him: “You are seeking great things for yourself. Stop seeking such things. For I am about to bring a calamity on all flesh, . . . and wherever you may go, I will grant you your life as a spoil.” (Jer. 45:3, 5) What do you think? What would have made Baruch happy—seeking great things or surviving Jerusalem’s destruction as a faithful servant of God?—Jas. 1:12.
12. What choice led Ramiro to enjoy a happy life?
12 One brother who found happiness in serving others is Ramiro. He states: “I come from a poor family living in a village in the Andes Mountains. So when my older brother offered to pay for my university education, it was a big opportunity. But I had recently been baptized as one of Jehovah’s Witnesses, and I had received another offer—a pioneer invited me to preach with him in a small town. I went there, learned how to cut hair, and opened a barbershop to support myself. As we offered to teach people the Scriptures, many responded appreciatively. Later, I joined an indigenous-language congregation that had recently been formed. I have been a full-time minister for ten years now. No other profession could give me the joy I experience as I help people to study the good news in their native tongue.”
13. Why is youth a fine time to serve Jehovah fully?
13 Enjoy serving Jehovah in your youth. (Read Ecclesiastes 12:1.) You need not feel that you must first get a good job so that you can serve Jehovah later. Youth is a fine time to start serving Jehovah fully. Many youths have relatively few family responsibilities and have health and vigor to tackle challenging assignments. What would you like to do for Jehovah during your youth? Perhaps your goal is to be a pioneer. You may want to work in a foreign-language territory. Or perhaps you see ways to serve more fully in your present congregation. Whatever your goal in God’s service, you will need a way to earn a living. How much training will you need? What will you choose?
USING BIBLE PRINCIPLES TO MAKE WISE CHOICES
14. What must one be cautious of when planning for the future?
14 The three Bible principles we have considered can help you to assess your employment options. No doubt your school counselors know something about the local job market. Or there may be a government agency that can tell you what work is in demand locally or where you hope to serve. Information from secular sources can be helpful—but beware. People who do not love Jehovah may try to plant love for the world in your heart. (1 John 2:15-17) When you look at what the world offers, your heart can easily deceive you.—Read Proverbs 14:15; Jer. 17:9.
15, 16. Who can best guide you regarding employment?
15 Once you understand your employment options, you need sound advice. (Prov. 1:5) Who can help you to assess employment options in the light of Bible principles? Listen to people who love Jehovah, love you, and know you and your circumstances well. They will help you to analyze your aptitudes and motives. Perhaps what they say will help you to rethink your goals. What a blessing you have if your parents love Jehovah! Also, the elders in your congregation are spiritually qualified men who can guide you. In addition, speak to pioneers and traveling overseers. Why did they make full-time service their choice? How did they get started pioneering, and how do they provide for themselves? What satisfaction results from their ministry?—Prov. 15:22.
16 Those who really know you well can give you advice with discernment. For example, suppose you want to drop out of high school and start pioneering mainly because you do not like the hard work that school requires. A person who loves you may discern your motives and help you to realize that school can help you to learn not to give up easily, a vital quality if you want to serve Jehovah fully.—Ps. 141:5; Prov. 6:6-10.
17. What decisions must we avoid?
17 Everyone who serves Jehovah will face spiritual dangers—influences that may draw him away from Jehovah. (1 Cor. 15:33; Col. 2:8) But some types of employment may present more spiritual dangers than others. Have some in your area experienced “shipwreck of their faith” after choosing a particular type of employment? (1 Tim. 1:19) It would certainly be wise to avoid making decisions that endanger your relationship with God.—Prov. 22:3.
ENJOY BEING A YOUNG CHRISTIAN
18, 19. If anyone does not yet feel inclined to serve Jehovah, what should he do?
18 If you have cultivated in your heart a desire to serve Jehovah, enjoy the opportunities that come with being a young servant of God. Make choices that will enable you to enjoy serving Jehovah in these exciting times.—Ps. 148:12, 13.
19 On the other hand, what should you do if you do not yet feel inclined to serve Jehovah? Do not give up trying to strengthen your faith. After the apostle Paul described his efforts to pursue a way of life that God could bless, he wrote: “If you are mentally inclined otherwise in any respect, God will reveal the above attitude to you. At any rate, to the extent we have made progress, let us go on walking orderly in this same course.” (Phil. 3:15, 16) Continue to consider God’s love and his wise advice. Better than anyone, Jehovah can help you to make wise choices during your youth.