“The things you heard from me . . . , entrust to faithful men.”—2 TIM. 2:2.
1. (a) What have God’s servants long understood about training, and how does this apply today? (b) What will we consider in this article?
GOD’S servants have long understood that training contributes to success. The patriarch Abram “mobilized his trained men” to rescue Lot—and the men succeeded. (Gen. 14:14-16) In King David’s day, the singers for God’s house “were trained in song to Jehovah” and brought praise to God. (1 Chron. 25:7) Today, we are fighting a spiritual war against Satan and his followers. (Eph. 6:11-13) Also, we are exerting ourselves in our effort to bring praise to Jehovah. (Heb. 13:15, 16) Hence, like God’s servants in the past, to be successful we need to be trained. In the congregation, Jehovah entrusts the elders with the responsibility of training others. (2 Tim. 2:2) What methods are experienced elders using to train brothers to become qualified to care for the flock?
FORTIFY THE LEARNER SPIRITUALLY
2. Before teaching a learner a set of skills, what may an elder want to do, and why?
2 As an elder, you could be compared to a gardener. Before planting seeds, a gardener may see the need to add nutrients to the soil to make it more productive. Similarly, before teaching a less experienced brother a set of skills, you may discern the need to share some nourishing Scriptural thoughts with him so as to make his heart more responsive to the training he will receive.—1 Tim. 4:6.
3. (a) How might Jesus’ words found at Mark 12:29, 30 be used in a conversation with a learner? (b) What effect may a prayer said by an elder have on the learner?
3 To determine to what extent a learner’s thoughts and actions are influenced by Kingdom truth, you might ask him, ‘How has your dedication to Jehovah changed the way you use your life?’ That question can lead to a meaningful conversation about what makes our sacred service whole-souled. (Read Mark 12:29, 30.) Perhaps at the end of such a conversation, you might say a prayer, asking Jehovah to give the learner the holy spirit he needs to complete his training. How upbuilding it will be for the brother to hear your heartfelt prayer in his behalf!
4. (a) Give examples of Bible accounts that stimulate a learner’s spiritual development. (b) What goal do elders have in mind when training others?
4 In the initial phase of training, consider some Bible accounts that might help the learner to see the need to be willing, reliable, and humble. (1 Ki. 19:19-21; Neh. 7:2; 13:13; Acts 18:24-26) Such qualities are as essential to the learner as nutrients are to the soil. They quicken his spiritual growth. Says Jean-Claude, an elder from France: “My main goal in training is to help a learner to become spiritually-minded. I look for occasions when we can read a specific scripture together to ‘open the eyes’ of the learner to ‘the wonderful things’ found in God’s Word.” (Ps. 119:18) What are some more ways to fortify a learner?
SUGGEST GOALS—GIVE REASONS
5. (a) How important is it to speak with a learner about spiritual goals? (b) Why should elders train those who are still young? (See footnote.)
5 Ask a learner, ‘What are your spiritual goals?’ If he has no clear goals in mind, help him to set one that is reasonable and reachable. Tell him about a specific spiritual goal you once set for yourself, and relate with enthusiasm how much joy you felt when you reached it. Though this may seem like a simple method, it is effective. Victor, an elder and pioneer in Africa, recalls: “When I was young, an elder asked me a few well-chosen questions about my goals. Those questions helped me to start thinking seriously about my ministry.” Experienced elders also stress the importance of beginning to train brothers when they are young—in their early teens—by giving them assignments in the congregation that fit their age. Such early training will help young ones to keep their eyes on spiritual goals when they reach the late teens and are bombarded with many distractions.—Read Psalm 71:5, 17.*
6. What was an important aspect of Jesus’ way of training others?
6 You will also stimulate a learner’s desire to serve by explaining to him not only what to do but also why to do it. By giving reasons, you imitate the Great Teacher, Jesus. For example, before giving his apostles the commission to make disciples, Jesus gave them a reason why they should obey. He stated: “All authority has been given me in heaven and on the earth.” Then he added: “Go, therefore, and make disciples of people of all the nations.” (Matt. 28:18, 19) How can you imitate Jesus’ way of training?
7, 8. (a) How can elders today imitate Jesus’ way of training? (b) How important is it to commend a learner? (c) What suggestions can help elders to train others? (See the box “How to Train Others.”)
7 Explain to a learner what the Scriptural reason is for what he is asked to do. In that way you teach him to think in terms of Bible principles. For example, suppose you ask a brother to keep the entranceway to the Kingdom Hall clean in appearance and safe for walking. You could consider Titus 2:10 and explain how his work to enhance the Kingdom Hall will “adorn the teaching of our Savior, God.” Also, ask the learner to think of the elderly ones in the congregation and how carrying out his assignment will benefit them. Having such conversations with the learner as part of his training will help him to focus more on people than on rules. He will experience the joy that comes from seeing how brothers and sisters in the congregation benefit from the service he renders.
8 Further, make sure to commend the learner for the effort he makes to apply your suggestions. How important is it to do that? Sincere commendation does for a learner what water does for a plant—it makes him thrive.—Compare Matthew 3:17.
AN ADDED CHALLENGE
9. (a) With regard to training, what challenge faces some elders in affluent lands? (b) Why has the truth not come first in the life of some younger brothers?
9 Elders in affluent lands may face an added challenge: how to motivate baptized brothers in their 20’s or 30’s to get involved in congregation activities. We asked experienced elders in some 20 Western lands to tell us why they think some young brothers shy away from accepting congregation privileges. Among the answers received, one stands out: While they were growing up, some young ones were not encouraged to pursue spiritual goals. In fact, in some cases, young ones who were inclined to set such goals were encouraged by their parents to pursue secular goals instead! The truth never came first in the life of such young ones.—Matt. 10:24.
10, 11. (a) How may an elder gradually help a brother who appears to be disengaged to change his mind-set? (b) What Scriptural thoughts could an elder consider with such a brother, and why? (See footnote.)
10 If a brother appears to be disengaged, changing the direction of his thinking will take much effort and patience, but it can be done. Just as a gardener can direct the growth of some plants by gradually straightening their stems, you can gradually help some brothers to see the need to change their attitude toward accepting privileges. But how?
11 Take time to develop a friendly relationship with the brother. Let him know that he is needed in the congregation. Then, over the course of time, sit down with him to reason on specific scriptures and help him think about his dedication to Jehovah. (Eccl. 5:4; Isa. 6:8; Matt. 6:24, 33; Luke 9:57-62; 1 Cor. 15:58; 2 Cor. 5:15; 13:5) You might ask him, ‘What did you promise Jehovah when you dedicated yourself to him?’ Try to stir his heart by asking, ‘How do you think Jehovah must have felt when you got baptized?’ (Prov. 27:11) ‘What were Satan’s feelings?’ (1 Pet. 5:8) Never underestimate how deeply a brother can be affected by the reading of carefully selected Bible passages.—Read Hebrews 4:12.*
LEARNERS, PROVE FAITHFUL
12, 13. (a) What disposition did Elisha show as a learner? (b) How did Jehovah reward Elisha for his faithfulness?
12 What, though, about you young ones whose help is needed? What disposition will help you to succeed? To answer, let us consider some events in the life of a learner in the past.
13 Nearly 3,000 years ago, the prophet Elijah invited young Elisha to become his attendant. Elisha promptly accepted the invitation and faithfully served the older man by caring for humble tasks. (2 Ki. 3:11) Then, after some six years of training, Elisha learned that Elijah’s work in Israel was about to come to an end. At that point, Elijah urged his well-trained companion to stop following him, but Elisha three times told Elijah: “I will not leave you.” He was determined to stay with his mentor as long as possible. Jehovah, in turn, rewarded Elisha for his loyalty and faithfulness by letting him witness Elijah’s awe-inspiring departure.—2 Ki. 2:1-12.
14. (a) How can learners today imitate Elisha? (b) Why is it so important for a learner to be faithful?
14 How can you imitate Elisha today? Promptly accept assignments, including humble tasks. View your teacher as a friend, and let him know how much you appreciate the effort he makes in your behalf. The way you respond may, in effect, tell him: “I will not leave you.” Above all, be faithful in carrying out any assignment you are given. Why is this so important? Because only after you demonstrate that you are faithful and reliable will the elders feel assured that Jehovah wants you to be entrusted with added responsibilities in the congregation.—Ps. 101:6; read 2 Timothy 2:2.
SHOW DUE RESPECT
15, 16. (a) In what ways did Elisha show respect for his teacher? (See opening image.) (b) What was it about Elisha that reassured his fellow prophets?
15 The account of Elijah’s successor, Elisha, also indicates how brothers today can show due respect for experienced elders. After Elijah and Elisha had visited a group of prophets in Jericho, the two men walked to the Jordan River. There, “Elijah took his official garment and rolled it up and struck the waters, and they were divided.” After crossing the dry riverbed, the men kept on “speaking as they walked.” Clearly, Elisha did not think that by now he knew it all. Until the moment Elijah left, Elisha took to heart each word spoken by his teacher. Then Elijah ascended in a windstorm. Later, back at the Jordan, Elisha struck the waters with Elijah’s garment, calling out: “Where is Jehovah, the God of Elijah?” Again, the waters were divided.—2 Ki. 2:8-14.
16 Did you note that the first miracle performed by Elisha was an exact copy of the last miracle performed by Elijah? Why is that of interest? Apparently, Elisha did not feel that since he was now at the helm, he needed to change course right away. Instead, by continuing in the way that Elijah had carried out his ministry, Elisha showed due respect for his teacher, which reassured Elisha’s fellow prophets. (2 Ki. 2:15) Later, though, during Elisha’s 60-year-long ministry as a prophet, Jehovah moved him to perform many more miracles than Elijah ever did. What is the lesson for you as a learner today?
17. (a) How can learners today imitate Elisha’s disposition? (b) In time, how may Jehovah use faithful learners?
17 Do not feel that as soon as you receive some responsibility in the congregation, you need to use it to change course—to do things in a way that is completely different from the way they were done before. The need for change is determined, not by your desire for change, but by the needs of the congregation and the direction we receive from Jehovah’s organization. Just as Elisha by his actions reassured his fellow prophets and showed respect for his predecessor by continuing to use Elijah’s methods, you may reassure your fellow believers and show respect for experienced elders by continuing to use their Bible-based methods. (Read 1 Corinthians 4:17.) However, as you gain experience, you will no doubt share in applying changes that will help the congregation to stay in tune with Jehovah’s progressive organization. In fact, as in Elisha’s case, Jehovah may in time move you faithful learners to do even greater works than those of your teachers.—John 14:12.
18. Why is the training of brothers in the congregations of high priority today?
18 It is hoped that the suggestions in this article and the preceding one will move more elders to set aside time for training others. May qualified brothers eagerly accept such training and then use it wisely as they help take care of Jehovah’s sheep. Doing so will fortify the congregations worldwide and help each one of us to stay faithful during the momentous events to come.
If a young man demonstrates Christian maturity, is humble, and meets the other Scriptural qualifications, the elders might recommend him for appointment as a ministerial servant even if he is not yet 20 years old.—1 Tim. 3:8-10, 12; see the July 1, 1989, issue of The Watchtower, page 29.
You might use in your discussion the points found in The Watchtower, April 15, 2012, pages 14-16, paragraphs 8-13; and “Keep Yourselves in God’s Love,” chapter 16, paragraphs 1-3.