“These things entrust to faithful men, who, in turn, will be adequately qualified to teach others.”—2 TIM. 2:2.
1, 2. How do many people view their work?
PEOPLE often define themselves by the work they do. To many, a job or position determines a person’s self-worth. In some cultures, when getting to know another person, one of the first questions asked is, “What kind of work do you do?”
2 The Bible sometimes describes people by the work they did. It speaks of “Matthew the tax collector”; “Simon, a tanner”; and “Luke, the beloved physician.” (Matt. 10:3; Acts 10:6; Col. 4:14) Spiritual assignments or privileges also identify people. We read of King David, the prophet Elijah, and the apostle Paul. These men valued their God-given assignments. If we have privileges of service, we likewise should value them.
3. Why is there a need for older ones to train younger ones? (See opening picture.)
3 Many of us love the work we do and would like to continue doing it indefinitely. Sadly, though, from the days of Adam, each generation grows old and is replaced by another. (Eccl. 1:4) In recent times, this transition has presented unique challenges for true Christians. The work of Jehovah’s people has grown in scope and complexity. As we tackle new projects, new ways of doing things are adopted—often ways that involve the use of rapidly changing technology. Some older ones may find it hard to keep pace with these advances. (Luke 5:39) Even when that is not the case, younger ones may have greater strength and energy than older ones have. (Prov. 20:29) Thus, it is both loving and practical for older ones to prepare younger ones to take on greater responsibility.—Read Psalm 71:18.
4. Why is it difficult for some to delegate authority? (See the box “Why Some People Do Not Delegate.”)
4 Those in positions of authority may not find it easy to delegate to younger ones. Some fear losing a position they cherish. Others worry about losing control, convinced that younger ones cannot do things as well. Some may reason that they do not have time to train someone else. On the other hand, those who are younger must guard against becoming impatient when they are not given more to do.
5. What questions will this article discuss?
5 Let us discuss this matter of delegating from two angles. First, how can older ones help younger ones take on increased responsibility, and why is this important? (2 Tim. 2:2) Second, why is it important that younger ones keep the right attitude as they assist brothers who are more experienced and learn from them? To begin, let us see how King David equipped his son to take on an important responsibility.
DAVID PREPARED AND SUPPORTED SOLOMON
6. What did King David want to do, and how did Jehovah respond?
6 After residing for years as a fugitive, David became king and lived in a comfortable house. Dismayed that there was no “house,” or temple, dedicated to Jehovah, he wanted to build one. So he said to Nathan the prophet: “Here I am living in a house of cedars while the ark of the covenant of Jehovah is under tent cloths.” Nathan replied: “Do whatever is in your heart, for the true God is with you.” However, Jehovah directed otherwise. He told Nathan to tell David: “You are not the one who will build the house for me to dwell in.” Although Jehovah lovingly assured David that He would continue to bless him, God directed that David’s son Solomon build the temple. How did David react?—1 Chron. 17:1-4, 8, 11, 12; 29:1.
7. How did David react to Jehovah’s direction?
7 David did not withhold his support, brooding over the prospect that the credit for temple construction would not be his. The building did, in fact, become known as Solomon’s temple, not David’s. While David may have been disappointed that he could not fulfill his heart’s desire, he fully supported the project. He eagerly organized work groups and gathered iron, copper, silver, and gold, as well as cedar timbers. Further, he encouraged Solomon, saying: “Now, my son, may Jehovah be with you, and may you be successful and build the house of Jehovah your God, just as he has spoken concerning you.”—1 Chron. 22:11, 14-16.
8. Why might David have concluded that Solomon was unqualified, but what did he do?
8 Read 1 Chronicles 22:5. David might have concluded that Solomon was not qualified to oversee such an important project. After all, the temple was to be “exceedingly magnificent,” and Solomon was at the time “young and inexperienced.” Yet, David knew that Jehovah would equip Solomon to handle the work given to him. So David focused on what he could do to assist, preparing materials in great quantity.
EXPERIENCE THE JOY OF TRAINING OTHERS
9. How can older ones find satisfaction in handing over responsibilities? Illustrate.
9 Older brothers should not be disheartened when it becomes necessary to hand their assignments over to younger men. Rather, it is in the best interests of the work when younger ones are trained to handle responsibilities. Appointed men should have great satisfaction when the younger ones whom they have trained become qualified to take on the work. To illustrate, think of a father who teaches his son to drive a car. When he is a child, the son simply observes his father. When the boy is older, the father explains what he is doing. Then, when the boy is of legal age, he begins to drive the car as his father gives him further instruction. Sometimes they may take turns driving, but eventually the son may do most, if not all, of the driving for his aging father. The wise father is pleased to have his son take over and does not feel that he has to be in control. Similarly, older men feel proud when they have trained younger ones to take on theocratic responsibilities.
10. How did Moses feel about glory and authority?
10 As older ones, we must guard against jealousy. Notice how Moses reacted when certain ones in the camp of Israel began behaving as prophets. (Read Numbers 11:24-29.) Joshua, Moses’ assistant, wanted to restrain them. He evidently thought that they were detracting from Moses’ prominence and authority. But Moses replied: “Are you jealous for me? No, I wish that all of Jehovah’s people were prophets and that Jehovah would put his spirit on them!” Moses saw Jehovah’s hand in the matter. Disclaiming honor for himself, Moses expressed his desire that the same spiritual gifts be shared by all of Jehovah’s servants. Like Moses, are we not pleased when others receive privileges that might otherwise have come to us?
11. What did one brother say about handing over his responsibility?
11 Today, there are many examples of brothers who have worked energetically for decades and who have prepared others to take on increased responsibility. For example, a brother named Peter served for more than 74 years in the full-time service, 35 of these at a branch office in Europe. Until recently, he was the overseer of the Service Department. Now Paul, a younger man who had worked alongside Peter for several years, cares for that responsibility. When Peter was asked how he felt about his change of assignment, he replied, “I am so pleased that there are brothers who have been trained to accept greater responsibility and who are doing so well in caring for the work.”
VALUE THE OLDER ONES AMONG US
12. What lesson should we learn from the Bible account of Rehoboam?
12 After Solomon died, his son Rehoboam became king. When Rehoboam needed advice on how to handle his responsibilities, he first asked the older men. But he rejected their advice! Instead, he took the advice of the younger men with whom he had grown up and who were now his attendants. The results were disastrous. (2 Chron. 10:6-11, 19) The lesson? It is wise to seek and consider carefully the advice of older, experienced ones. Though younger ones should not feel shackled to past ways of doing things, they should not be quick to dismiss the counsel of older ones.
13. How should younger ones cooperate with older ones?
13 Some younger ones may now be coordinating activities that include older brothers. Though such younger ones have a changed role, they would do well to benefit from the wisdom and experience of older ones before making decisions. Paul, mentioned earlier, who replaced Peter as the overseer of a Bethel department, said, “I took time to seek out the advice of Peter, and I encouraged others in the department to do the same.”
14. What do we learn from the cooperation between Timothy and the apostle Paul?
14 Timothy, a younger man, worked alongside the apostle Paul for many years. (Read Philippians 2:20-22.) Paul had written to the Corinthians: “I am sending Timothy to you, because he is my beloved and faithful child in the Lord. He will remind you of my methods in connection with Christ Jesus, just as I am teaching everywhere in every congregation.” (1 Cor. 4:17) This brief statement points to the close cooperation between Paul and Timothy. Paul had taken time to teach Timothy his “methods in connection with Christ.” Timothy learned well and had won Paul’s affection, and Paul was confident that Timothy could care for the spiritual needs of those in Corinth. What a fine example for elders to imitate today as they train other men to take the lead in the congregation!
ALL OF US HAVE A PART TO PLAY
15. How should Paul’s counsel to Christians in Rome help us when we are affected by change?
15 We live in exciting times. The earthly part of Jehovah’s organization is growing in many ways, but growth necessitates change. As changes affect us personally, may we be humble, keeping an eye on Jehovah’s interests and not on our own. Doing so promotes unity. To Christians in Rome, Paul wrote: “I tell everyone there among you not to think more of himself than it is necessary to think, but to think so as to have a sound mind, each one as God has given to him a measure of faith. For just as we have in one body many members, but the members do not all have the same function, so we, although many, are one body in union with Christ.”—Rom. 12:3-5.
16. What might older ones and younger ones, as well as their wives, do to help maintain the peace and unity of Jehovah’s organization?
16 Whatever our circumstances, then, let all of us work to further the interests of Jehovah’s magnificent Kingdom. You older ones, equip younger ones to do what you do. You younger brothers, accept responsibility, be modest, and maintain a respectful attitude toward the older ones. And you wives, imitate Aquila’s wife, Priscilla, who accompanied and supported Aquila faithfully as their circumstances changed.—Acts 18:2.
17. What confidence did Jesus have in his disciples, and for what did he train them?
17 In the matter of training others to take on increased responsibility, there is no better example than that of Jesus. He knew that his earthly ministry would come to an end and that others would carry on his work. Though his disciples were imperfect, he had confidence in them and told them that they would do works greater than he did. (John 14:12) He trained them thoroughly, and they spread the good news throughout the then-known world.—Col. 1:23.
18. What prospects lie ahead, and what can we do now?
18 After his sacrificial death, Jesus was resurrected to heaven where he was given more work to do with authority “far above every government and authority and power and lordship.” (Eph. 1:19-21) If we die faithful before Armageddon, we will be resurrected into a righteous new world, where there will be plenty of satisfying work for us to do. Now, though, there is vitally important work that all of us can participate in—preaching the good news and making disciples. May all of us, young or old, keep on “having plenty to do in the work of the Lord.”—1 Cor. 15:58.