Pioneer Service—Is It for You?
1 No doubt many of you have asked yourselves: “Is the pioneer service for me?” This is commendable, for it indicates your desire to share even to a greater extent in spreading the good news of the Kingdom. That is what our dedication to Jehovah implies, does it not?—that we devote ourselves to the worship of Jehovah our God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength. (Mark 12:30) However, not all of us can pioneer, and that is understandable. Some of us have family and other obligations, and others of us have poor health or we are getting on in years. But no doubt there are many more who could experience that great joy of serving our Grand Creator in pioneer service. We therefore want to take a realistic approach to this matter by answering a few questions that many have asked. One question is this:
Ques. 1 “I’VE HEARD THAT PIONEERING IS NOT FOR EVERYONE. HOW DO I KNOW IF IT IS FOR ME OR NOT?”
2 This depends in a large measure on your circumstances and Scriptural responsibilities. There are some whose position in life does not permit their spending 90 hours every month in direct Kingdom witnessing. But this does not mean that they are less faithful. There are, for example, many devoted housewives who are fine examples as Christian wives and mothers and who seek to share the good news at every opportunity. Some are moved to spend many hours each month in taking the good news to their neighbors. Their activity is productive and brings them joy in that they are privileged to lead new ones into association with the congregation. And as they have opportunity they may spend a month every so often as auxiliary pioneers, reaping joys that come from that service. (Gal. 6:9) In their present circumstances it is just beyond their capacity to be regular pioneers. But this does not prevent them from building up the pioneer spirit in the congregation. They can take along with them in their service younger and newer publishers, helping these to become proficient in teaching others, and encouraging them to take part in auxiliary and regular pioneer work.
3 There are many, though, who are free of family obligations and who are in a position to pioneer. It is good, therefore, that we examine ourselves now and again, asking the question, Could I be doing more in proclaiming the good news? From our study of God’s Word, all of us appreciate that we are deep into the period of the “last days.” That is why Satan’s system is surrounding us with the worsening conditions described at 2 Timothy 3:1-5. They enemy is trying to engulf all of God’s people in this loveless, materialistic world. But no! We are separate from the world, and “this is the conquest that has conquered the world, our faith.” (1 John 5:4) So on the basis of this faith, we should be reaching out to embrace all of the privileges of service available to us. If we are free to reach out for auxiliary and, perhaps later, regular pioneer service, we should do so. This raises the question:
Ques. 2 “HOW CAN I BE SURE I CAN GET ALONG ECONOMICALLY IF I GO PIONEERING?”
4 This too is a test of your faith. Whether we are congregation publishers, or whether we reach out for pioneer service. Jesus’ words at Matthew 6:30-33 apply to all of us: “If, now, God thus clothes the vegetation of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much rather clothe you, you with little faith? So never be anxious and say, ‘What are we to eat?’ or, ‘What are we to drink?’ or, ‘What are we to put on?’ For all these are the things the nations are eagerly pursuing. For your heavenly Father knows you need all these things. Keep on, then, seeking first the kingdom and his righteousness, and all these other things will be added to you.” So, God assures us that he will provide all the necessities of life if we take him at his word, pressing on with faith in doing his will. If we are in a position that we may adjust our affairs to enter pioneer service, and take the initiative in doing this, Jehovah will continue to provide. Look the whole world over and you will never find a faithful pioneer forced to beg for bread!—Ps. 37:25, 26.
5 Being practical about this, why not talk to some of the happy pioneers in your own congregation or in your circuit—those who have found joy in this service for two, three and more years, some even for 20 or 30 years. This will help to remove uncertainty as to whether pioneer service is for you. Talk with these ones who have made pioneering their vocation, and who continue to rejoice in this service. They can explain just how they do it. They can tell you of the initial problems that they had to overcome, how they schedule their service, their meetings and other duties, so that nothing is neglected. And once you have started to pioneer, these “old hands” can no doubt continue to give you good advice. Have faith, too, that Jehovah can provide ways to overcome even mountainlike obstacles.—Matt. 17:20.
6 A circuit overseer who recently visited Brooklyn from the Orient told of a sister who often shared in auxiliary pioneer work. Her example indicates what faith can do. She was living in Manchuria when the atom bomb destroyed Hiroshima, and with it most of her family. The shock of this news so weakened her physical system that, shortly after she returned to Japan, she became an invalid, paralyzed in her entire body. Then she learned the truth and was baptized. How she wanted to tell this glorious hope to others! Though she could use only the muscles of her face, she learned to write with a pencil or crayon in her mouth, and to illustrate beautifully the writings that she would send out to interested persons concerning the Kingdom hope. She would also witness to many others who called to see her at her home. When the circuit overseer visited, he found that she had averaged 106 hours in service for the previous six months. What a fine illustration of how invincible faith can help overcome obstacles to having a fuller share in the spreading of the good news!
7 Longtime pioneers can tell thrilling stories concerning the conquests made by virtue of their faith. They can tell of times when everything looked dark; nevertheless, they kept on, and then in most unexpected ways the problems often were removed to enable them to continue enjoying their treasured pioneer service. Though they may have become worn out and tired at times, their self-sacrificing course has brought rich blessings from Jehovah. They are a demonstration that, true to his promise, Jehovah “is giving to the tired one power; and to the one without dynamic energy he makes full might abound.”—Isa. 40:29.
8 The pressures of this materialistic world seem to affect some more than others. However, we should have faith that these pressures need not block our becoming pioneers. In some countries where materialistic enticements abound, great numbers of our fellow Christians are sharing in pioneer work. For example, in Japan, upwards of 25 percent of all publishers are presently enjoying some features of the pioneer service each month. What has made it possible for these and others throughout the world to take up the pioneer service?
9 Successful pioneers are spiritually motivated, and this of course is something they have in common with all of God’s servants who are serving whole-souled. All of us, for example, believe that we are living in the “last days.” We love Jehovah and his arrangements for our everlasting happiness. We do not feel this is just another religion. Though there are many material things around us, we make every effort not to be captured by such things. Those who have decided to pioneer, however, often have taken a fresh look at their economic circumstances. They have developed a concept of life which is to live simply, and they are industrious. In short, after thoroughly evaluating their circumstances they have made room for this in their lives.
10 In areas where many participate in the pioneer work, youths frequently enter this service immediately after high school, often because parents have set this goal before them from childhood. Bible students may already have pioneering as a goal before they are baptized. Many housewives in Japan who are pioneers have found it a definite advantage to keep their homes simple and uncluttered. After the children leave for school, these sisters clean the house efficiently and quickly and then head out into the service. Some heads of families have taken part-time jobs that others dislike—jobs that have early hours or disagreeable work—so they can pioneer. In many cases, it is this different approach to their economic situation that has enabled some to do more in Jehovah’s service by means of the pioneer work. In faith, these brothers and sisters have reached out and have been blessed with the joys of pioneer service. Can you reach out and experience similar joys? It is for you to weigh your circumstances, consider the opportunities, and decide. But, then someone asks:
Ques. 3 “I AM A TEEN-AGER AND CAN HARDLY FORESEE WHAT I WANT TO DO BEYOND THE NEXT SIX MONTHS OR SO, MUCH LESS CONSIDER PIONEERING AS A LIFETIME CAREER.”
11 The word “career” has a sense of permanency that you may not be ready for, and that is understandable. You may not be familiar with the pioneer work. Perhaps you have given some thought to getting married and raising a family, with its obvious effect on your ability to stay in the pioneer service. These are valid matters of personal concern.
12 Then, too, for many young people, the time leading to and following graduation from high school is one of uncertainty. Until now your time has been largely programmed for you, and you have not had a lot of decisions to make about your own life. But this is all the more reason why you should give careful thought to what you are going to do next.
13 Your decisions at this point may determine to a large extent what direction your life will take in the coming years. So even though your goals may not be fixed yet, likely you do want to fill your life with something that will be rewarding and fulfilling. Rather than automatically filling the vacuum left after finishing school with a full-time job, why not think about spending a few months auxiliary pioneering? If you enjoy it, you may decide to go on to regular pioneering.
14 After several months or a year of such service, probably your view of what you want to do with your life will be somewhat clearer. Even if the decision is to marry, many couples have benefited greatly form the experience of pioneering together during the early part of their marriage—one or both often continuing in the pioneer service throughout married life.
15 In any event, whether single or married, your period of pioneering will have advanced and rounded out your education in a way that no other activity or career training can provide. The experience you will have gained in approaching and dealing with people of various backgrounds, in facing and overcoming obstacles on your own and in developing personal organization and self-discipline will be invaluable to you in later life. And remember—you will never really know unless you try it.
16 Circumstances in life change for all of us. Remember that none of us know what tomorrow will bring. There are few things in life that can remain truly permanent. So why not take a serious look at your present situation and weigh the matter of pioneering carefully. If nothing hinders you now other than indecision, why not set out on a course you know to be in line with Jehovah’s will for our time? It may prove to be the best career for you.
Ques. 4 “I’VE HEARD IT SAID THAT MEETING PIONEER REQUIREMENTS CAN BECOME A REAL PRESSURE IF YOU FAIL TO MAKE YOUR TIME DUE TO SICKNESS OR OTHER MAJOR PROBLEMS.”
17 It is true that if you enroll in the regular pioneer service you will be asked to spend at least 90 hours each month in the field service, or 1,000 hours each year. Under normal conditions, most pioneers find this to be a reasonable goal. On the average, this means spending only about three hours a day in the field service. Of course, pressures could easily develop if you do not properly schedule your time and if you lack the self-discipline to stick to it.
18 However, serious acute illness or other major unforeseen events could also cause you to lose a lot of time in the Kingdom work. To make up for this, you might have to spend five, six or even more hours witnessing each day for several months. Or, a pioneer may drop behind by a hundred or more hours early in the service year due to some unforeseen circumstance. Then later in the year as he works to make up the lost time, what if another serious problem arises and puts him even further behind in reaching the goals? This, together with trying to support himself by part-time work could get to be a real burden, weighing heavily on the conscientious pioneer’s mind. Apparently many choose not to become pioneers because of worrying about what may never happen. Is there a solution?
19 Yes. We would like you to know that if you are temporarily ill, or for some other urgent reason you cannot meet the required minimum of hours for a few months, you may ask the body of elders in your congregation to write the Society a letter to accompany your report, giving us the details of your problem. If the elders, after thorough consideration, think it would be advisable for you to be allowed to continue on in the pioneer service without worrying about making up the lost time, then they should make that recommendation to us, and we will be pleased to give consideration to your circumstances.
20 Of course, with the present arrangement of only 1,000 hours required for the year, it is not expected that pioneers would be taking time away from their pioneer service for nonessential activities that would cause them to fall behind in their hours in the service. Or if the reason for low hours is poor scheduling or lack of self-discipline, the pioneer should feel it necessary to make up such lost time. However, where there is an unusual period of sickness, or accidents or serious family problems suddenly come along, you may be assured that we will consider your needs as a pioneer. We believe this arrangement will remove some of the pressure from pioneers who have good reason to request consideration in this matter.
21 Many pioneers have been zealous servants of Jehovah for years and with all their hearts want to continue on in the pioneer work, and we want them to do so. But what if one finds that he just cannot meet the requirements consistently over a long period of time? Then, no doubt it would be the course of wisdom to return to serving as a congregation publisher and share whenever possible in the auxiliary pioneer service.
22 However, we hope that this additional consideration for the problems of pioneers will encourage those already enrolled to continue with their sacred service, and we hope, too, that for those of you considering the pioneer work, a possible obstacle in the way of a positive decision has been removed.
Ques. 5 “I WOULD LIKE TO FEEL THAT I AM REALLY ACCOMPLISHING SOMETHING IN WHAT I DO AND I WANT TO BE HAPPY DOING IT. WILL PIONEERING GIVE ME THIS KIND OF SATISFACTION?”
23 Well, what does it take to make you happy? Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount lists nine ways to be happy. (Matt. 5:3-12) Some of the things he lists may or may not, on the surface, appeal to you as a source of happiness. But in reflecting on these “happinesses,” do not the underlying principles strike home? They show that neither one’s present situation in life subject to time and unforeseen occurrence, nor purely humanitarian acts bring true happiness.
24 Rather, complete happiness, Jesus teaches, stems from activities related to the worship of Jehovah and the fulfillment of his promises. It comes from doing what we know deep-down to be right. True, there are many things in life that bring a measure of happiness, but happiness can only be truly complete when we add the sense of purpose that spiritual pursuits bring. And Jesus wisely pointed out the greater happiness of giving to others compared to just enjoying things ourselves. Certainly there is no greater gift that we can offer to our fellowman than the hope of everlasting life.—Acts 20:35.
25 But, you may ask, How can pioneering make me feel that I am accomplishing something, when I know that some publishers are even more successful in helping people learn the truth than some pioneers?
26 First, it would be good to put what constitutes “accomplishment” into proper focus. Success cannot always be judged by outward results. Some people, because of their personalities or natural abilities, are quite successful in persuading others to accept Jehovah’s sovereignty and they are indeed blessed for their work. But it is not numbers that count with Jehovah. Rather, it is what we do in a heartfelt way to publicize and honor his name.
27 And sometimes results are not readily apparent. Our work may have a powerful influence for good even if we do not seem to be as productive as others. This point was made by the wise man at Ecclesiastes 11:6: “In the morning sow your seed and until the evening do not let your hand rest; for you are not knowing where this will have success, either here or there, or whether both of them will alike be good.”
28 If your happiness comes from permanent, worthwhile things, rather than the fleeting benefits offered by the world, and if you are convinced that Jehovah’s kingdom will soon provide life in abundance to all who serve him and your circumstances will allow you to share more fully in telling others about it—then, yes, pioneering will give you a sense of accomplishment that will indeed make you a happy person.
Ques. 6 “WHETHER I PIONEER OR NOT—ISN’T THAT MY OWN BUSINESS, SINCE IT’S NOT REQUIRED FOR EVERLASTING LIFE?”
29 True, pioneering is not a requirement for everlasting life. But serving God with a complete heart and with our whole soul is. And when it comes to pioneering, the principle of 2 Corinthians 9:7 (The New English Bible) is appropriate: “Each person should give as he has decided for himself; there should be no reluctance, no sense of compulsion; God loves a cheerful giver.” So if others were to try to decide if you should pioneer, it would involve judging your circumstances and your heart, something that we humans have no right to do.
30 Obviously it is up to each one personally to determine what to do, in accord with one’s heart motivation and circumstances. “Let him prove what his own work is,” writes Paul, “and then he will have cause for exultation in regard to himself alone, and not in comparison with the other person.”—Gal. 6:4.
31 So, to the question of who should pioneer, we have to agree that only you can answer. But we hope the information here provided will help you to weigh this important matter in the proper light. There are some indicators that may assist you to reach the right decision.
32 For example, if you are strongly attracted to the “good life” and want to surround yourself with material possessions, then likely pioneering will have little appeal to you. Spending 90 hours a month in the disciple-making work and caring for other responsibilities in this system of things calls for a spirit of self-sacrifice. This does not mean that pioneers are trying to please God by practicing self-denial. Balanced pioneers do not necessarily give ‘until it hurts.’ On the other hand, they do not feel that it hurts to give.
33 Another factor you should seriously review is whether you are considering pioneering for the right reasons, spiritual reasons. Those who undertake this service for less than spiritual reasons often find that it soon loses its appeal. The reality that it is work soon makes them lose interest. For example, if one pioneers merely because his best friends are doing it, he may not have a solid basis for continuing.
34 Neither should pioneering be a way for some to feel superior to others who are not doing so. To view oneself this way would be to assume that one is serving God whole-souled and others are not. This would be a dangerous attitude to adopt, even as Paul declares: “Who are you to judge the house servant of another? To his own master he stands or falls.”—Rom. 14:4.
35 On the other hand, if you are willing to place first priority on helping others to come to a knowledge of God and his purposes, then pioneering merits your serious consideration. Of course, your circumstances should be such that you could meet the requirements by adjusting your affairs, making the needed sacrifices.
36 If you hesitate simply because you doubt your own capabilities or are uncertain about what the future may bring, then we can only recommend the advice Jehovah gives to those willing to trust him by doing their part: “Put me to the proof . . . and see if I do not open windows in the sky and pour a blessing on you as long as there is need.”—Mal. 3:10, The New English Bible.
So, is pioneering for you? We rejoice with you if this information has enabled you to say—“Yes, for me!” And if it is your decision to pioneer, you may indeed look forward to a most joyful privilege.