Keep Walking Progressively in an Orderly Routine
1 The apostle Paul had a special affection for the congregation in Philippi, which he was instrumental in forming. He was grateful for their kind material provisions and spoke of them as a good example.—2 Cor. 8:1-6.
2 Paul’s letter to the Philippians was prompted by deep love. The Insight book, Volume 2, page 631, reports: “Throughout the letter he encourages the Philippian congregation to continue in their fine course—seeking greater discernment and getting a sure grip on the Word of life, a stronger faith, and hope in the prize to come.” They responded warmly, cementing a bond of love between them and the apostle. Paul’s words take on special meaning for us today, giving us good reason to reflect carefully on his admonition, particularly what is stated at Philippians 3:15-17.
3 A Mature Mental Attitude Is Essential: At Philippians 3:15, Paul wrote as a man with years of experience. He acknowledged the Philippians’ spiritual advancement, appealing to them as mature Christians with a right mental attitude. As long as their mental attitude reflected the humility and appreciation demonstrated by Jesus, they would continue to be “blameless and innocent, children of God without a blemish . . . , keeping a tight grip on the word of life.” (Phil. 2:15, 16) When we read Paul’s words, we should feel that he is talking to us. Thus we earnestly desire to have the same mental attitude that Jesus had and to display humble appreciation for our privileges. We continually appeal to Jehovah in prayer, asking for help in this and in other matters.—Phil. 4:6, 7.
4 As Philippians 3:16 indicates, all of us should endeavor to make progress. The word “progress” means “moving forward, making advancement.” People who are progressive are “interested in new ideas, findings, or opportunities.” Paul wanted the Philippians to understand that Christianity is never stagnant and those who profess it must keep moving forward. Their progressive spirit would be demonstrated by a willingness to examine themselves, to acknowledge their weaknesses, and to reach out for opportunities to do more or to improve the quality of what they were doing. Today Jehovah’s earthly organization keeps moving forward progressively, ever expanding its scope of activity and its understanding of God’s Word. Each one of us must keep pace with it, taking advantage of all its provisions and sharing fully in its work.
5 Progress Requires an Orderly Routine: Paul continued by urging his brothers to “go on walking orderly in this same routine.” (Phil. 3:16) Being orderly requires us to put persons or things in their proper places in relation to one another and to be well behaved. The Christians in Philippi kept themselves in their proper place, staying close to Jehovah’s organization and to one another. Their lives were governed by the law of love. (John 15:17; Phil. 2:1, 2) Paul urged them to “behave in a manner worthy of the good news.” (Phil. 1:27) The need for orderliness and fine behavior is just as important for Christians today.
6 A routine is a habitual performance of an established procedure. It is thus closely related to a customary way of doing things. Having a routine can work to our advantage because we do not have to pause and deliberate when making decisions about our next step—we have already established a set pattern that we follow by force of habit.
7 An orderly theocratic routine consists of habits and customs that are wholesome, beneficial, godly—with the objective of building ourselves up spiritually, helping others, and, if possible, doing more in Jehovah’s service. Success in achieving these goals requires establishing and maintaining a routine that includes personal study, regular attendance at meetings, and participation in the preaching work.
8 Essentials Included in an Orderly Routine: One essential is “accurate knowledge and full discernment.” (Phil. 1:9) Personal study deepens our faith, strengthens our appreciation for the truth, and motivates us toward fine works. However, some have found it difficult to be consistent in their study habits. One of the principal reasons given is a lack of time.
9 The benefits of reading the Bible daily cannot be overemphasized. Its instruction is “beneficial” in every way. (2 Tim. 3:16, 17) How can we find time for Bible study in our daily routine? Some have found that they can get up a few minutes earlier each morning, when their mind is alert. Others find that they do better when reading a few minutes before retiring at night. Wives who are at home during the day may be able to set aside a little time in the afternoons before others get home from work or school. In addition to regular Bible reading, some have included reading of the Proclaimers book in their weekly study routine.
10 When we establish new habits, there is a real possibility that they will conflict with our former habits. In the past we may have been inclined to allow nonessential activities to consume available time. Breaking away from that pattern is not easy. No one is going to dictate our study habits; nor are we required to make an accounting of what we do in this regard. The consistency of our study habits depends largely on our appreciation of “the more important things” and our willingness to buy out “the opportune time” to benefit from them.—Phil. 1:10; Eph. 5:16.
11 Christian meetings play a vital role in our spiritual progress, providing necessary instruction and encouragement. Hence, attending meetings is another essential part of our orderly routine. Paul emphasized the importance of this. It is not an option determined by preference.—Heb. 10:24, 25.
12 How can orderliness be displayed when we plan our weekly schedule of activity? Some arrange for specific times to care for personal pursuits and then try to squeeze the meetings into any available openings, but it should be the other way around. Our weekly meetings should be given priority, with other activities planned around them.
13 Regular meeting attendance requires good planning and family cooperation. On weekdays most of us have a busy schedule of activity that often leaves us pressed for time. This means that, if possible, the evening meal must be scheduled early enough for the family to have sufficient time to eat, get ready, and arrive at the meeting before it begins. To that end family members can cooperate in various ways.
14 Regular field service is indispensable if we are to keep walking progressively in an orderly routine. All of us clearly recognize our weighty responsibility to preach the Kingdom message. That is what makes us Jehovah’s Witnesses. (Isa. 43:10) Since it is the most urgent and beneficial work being performed today, there is no way that we can properly view it as an incidental part of our routine. Paul admonished: “Let us always offer to God a sacrifice of praise, that is, the fruit of lips which make public declaration to his name.”—Heb. 13:15.
15 When we plan our activity for each week, specific times should be set aside for field service. Likely the congregation has meetings for service arranged several times each week, and it is simply a matter of deciding which ones we can support. It would be good to reach out for a share in each feature of service, such as doing house-to-house work with magazines and other literature, making return visits, and conducting Bible studies. We may even plan ahead to do informal witnessing by carrying literature and being alert to opportunities to start conversations. Since we usually go out with others, we need to inquire about their schedule so that we can make arrangements that will be mutually convenient.
16 Our routine of preaching should be maintained despite indifference in the territory. We know in advance that only a few will respond favorably. (Matt. 13:15; 24:9) Ezekiel was commissioned to preach to people who were ‘rebellious, insolent, and hardhearted.’ Jehovah promised to help Ezekiel by making his “forehead exactly as hard as their foreheads,” that is, “like a diamond, harder than flint.” (Ezek. 2:3, 4; 3:7-9) A regular routine for service therefore requires perseverance.
17 Good Examples to Imitate: Most of us do better in field service when there is someone to take the lead. Paul and his companions set a good example, and he urged others to imitate him. (Phil. 3:17) His routine included all the elements needed to keep himself spiritually strong.
18 Today, too, we are blessed with fine examples. At Hebrews 13:7, Paul urged: “Remember those who are taking the lead among you, . . . and as you contemplate how their conduct turns out imitate their faith.” Of course, Christ is our Exemplar, but we can imitate the faith exercised by those taking the lead. Like Paul, the elders must be conscious of the need to be good examples to others. While their personal circumstances may vary, each one should be able to show that he is maintaining an orderly routine in keeping Kingdom interests first. Even with secular and family obligations, elders should have well-established habits in personal study, meeting attendance, and taking the lead in the field service. By elders’ giving evidence that they are ‘presiding over their households in a fine manner,’ all in the congregation will be encouraged to keep walking in an orderly routine.—1 Tim. 3:4, 5.
19 Goals for the New Service Year: The beginning of a new service year is a fitting time to reflect on our personal routine. What does a review of our activity for the past year show? Were we able to maintain, or possibly improve, our level of activity? We may have been more thorough in our personal study. We may have attended meetings with better regularity or may have increased our field service by enrolling as auxiliary pioneers. Perhaps we are able to point to specific acts of Christian kindness we have performed in behalf of others in our congregation or family. If so, we can rejoice that we have walked in a way that pleases God, and we have good reason to “keep on doing it more fully.”—1 Thess. 4:1.
20 What if our routine was somewhat inconsistent or sporadic? How were we affected spiritually? Was our progress hindered for some reason? Improvement begins with a request for Jehovah’s help. (Phil. 4:6, 13) Discuss your needs with the rest of the family, requesting their help in adjusting aspects of your routine. If you have problems, ask the elders for assistance. If we make an earnest effort and respond to Jehovah’s direction, we can be sure that we will avoid “being either inactive or unfruitful.”—2 Pet. 1:5-8.
21 Walking in an orderly routine leads to blessings that make your efforts worthwhile. As you determine to walk progressively in an orderly routine, “do not loiter at your business. Be aglow with the spirit. Slave for Jehovah.” (Rom. 12:11)—For a more detailed treatment of this subject, see The Watchtower of May 1, 1985, pages 13-17.