“Just as the body is one but has many members, and all the members of that body, although many, are one body, so too is the Christ.”—1 COR. 12:12.
SONG 101 Working Together in Unity
1. What privilege do we enjoy?
WHAT a privilege we have to be part of Jehovah’s congregation! We are in a spiritual paradise that is full of peaceful, happy people. What is your place in the congregation?
2. What illustration did the apostle Paul use in several of his inspired letters?
2 We can learn much about this topic from an illustration that the apostle Paul used in several of his inspired letters. In each of these letters, Paul compared the congregation to the human body. He also compared the individuals in a congregation to parts of the body.—Rom. 12:4-8; 1 Cor. 12:12-27; Eph. 4:16.
3. What three lessons will we consider in this article?
3 In this article, we will consider three important lessons that we can learn from Paul’s illustration. First, we will learn that each one of us has a place* in Jehovah’s congregation. Second, we will discuss what we can do if we find it difficult to see our place in the congregation. And third, we will discuss why we need to stay busy fulfilling our own role in God’s congregation.
EACH ONE OF US HAS A ROLE TO PLAY IN JEHOVAH’S CONGREGATION
4. What does Romans 12:4, 5 teach us?
4 The first lesson we can learn from Paul’s illustration is that each one of us has an important place in Jehovah’s family. Paul begins his illustration by saying: “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, but individually we are members belonging to one another.” (Rom. 12:4, 5) What was Paul’s point? Each one of us has a different role in the congregation, but each one of us is valuable.
5. What “gifts” has Jehovah given to the congregation?
5 When you think of those who have a place in the congregation, your mind may immediately turn to those who take the lead. (1 Thess. 5:12; Heb. 13:17) It is true that through Christ, Jehovah has given “gifts in men” to His congregation. (Eph. 4:8) These “gifts in men” include Governing Body members, appointed helpers to the Governing Body, Branch Committee members, circuit overseers, field instructors, congregation elders, and ministerial servants. All these brothers are appointed by holy spirit to care for Jehovah’s precious sheep and serve the interests of the congregation.—1 Pet. 5:2, 3.
6. According to 1 Thessalonians 2:6-8, what do brothers who are appointed by holy spirit strive to do?
6 Brothers are appointed by holy spirit to carry out various responsibilities. Just as various parts of the body, such as the hands and the feet, work to benefit the entire body, brothers who are appointed by holy spirit work hard to benefit the entire congregation. They do not seek personal glory. Instead, they strive to build up and strengthen their brothers and sisters. (Read 1 Thessalonians 2:6-8.) We thank Jehovah for such unselfish, spiritually qualified men!
7. What blessings do many in full-time service enjoy?
7 Some in the congregation may be appointed to serve as missionaries, special pioneers, or regular pioneers. In fact, brothers and sisters around the world have made preaching and disciple-making their full-time career. In doing so, they have helped many to become disciples of Christ Jesus. Although these full-time evangelizers usually have few material things, Jehovah has rewarded them with a life filled with blessings. (Mark 10:29, 30) We treasure these dear brothers and sisters, and we are grateful that they are part of the congregation!
8. Why is every publisher of the good news precious to Jehovah?
8 Are appointed brothers and those in the full-time ministry the only ones to have a place in the congregation? Not at all! Every publisher of the good news is important to God and to the congregation. (Rom. 10:15; 1 Cor. 3:6-9) In fact, one of the most important goals of the congregation is to make disciples of our Lord Jesus Christ. (Matt. 28:19, 20; 1 Tim. 2:4) All who are associated with the congregation, both baptized and unbaptized publishers, try to make this work a priority.—Matt. 24:14.
9. Why do we treasure our Christian sisters?
9 Jehovah gives Christian sisters a dignified place in the congregation. He values these wives, mothers, widows, and single sisters who loyally serve him. The Scriptures frequently mention outstanding women who pleased God. They are commended as fine examples of wisdom, faith, zeal, courage, generosity, and good works. (Luke 8:2, 3; Acts 16:14, 15; Rom. 16:3, 6; Phil. 4:3; Heb. 11:11, 31, 35) How thankful we are to Jehovah to have in our congregations Christian women who have these same beautiful qualities!
10. Why do we value our elderly ones?
10 We are also blessed to have many elderly ones. Some congregations have elderly brothers and sisters who have loyally devoted their entire life to serving Jehovah. Other older ones may have learned the truth more recently. In either case, our elderly ones may struggle with various health problems associated with advanced age. Those problems might limit what they can do in the congregation and in the preaching work. Yet, these older ones do what they can in the field ministry, and they use all the energy they have to encourage and train others! And we benefit from their experience. They are truly beautiful to Jehovah and to us.—Prov. 16:31.
11-12. How have you been encouraged by the young ones in your congregation?
11 Think, too, about our young ones. They face many challenges as they grow up in this world dominated by Satan the Devil and his wicked philosophies. (1 John 5:19) Yet, we all feel encouraged when we see our young ones comment at meetings, share in the ministry, and courageously defend their beliefs. Yes, you young ones have an important place in Jehovah’s congregation!—Ps. 8:2.
12 Some of our brothers and sisters, however, struggle to believe that they are a meaningful part of the congregation. What can help us to feel that we as individuals have a place in the congregation? Let us see.
SEE YOUR PLACE IN THE CONGREGATION
13-14. Why may some feel that they are not valuable to the congregation?
13 Note the second lesson that we can learn from Paul’s illustration. He draws attention to a problem that many have today; they find it difficult to believe that they are valuable to the congregation. Paul writes: “If the foot should say, ‘Because I am not a hand, I am no part of the body,’ that does not make it no part of the body. And if the ear should say, ‘Because I am not an eye, I am no part of the body,’ that does not make it no part of the body.” (1 Cor. 12:15, 16) What point was Paul making?
14 If you compare yourself with others in the congregation, you may be blinded to your own value. Some in the congregation may be gifted teachers, good organizers, or skilled shepherds. Perhaps you feel that you do not have those gifts to the same degree. This shows that you are humble and modest. (Phil. 2:3) But be careful. If you constantly compare yourself with those who have outstanding talents, you will be disappointed in yourself. You may even feel, as Paul mentioned, that you have no place in the congregation at all. What can help you to deal with such feelings?
15. According to 1 Corinthians 12:4-11, what do we need to recognize about any gifts we may have?
15 Consider this fact: Jehovah gave some first-century Christians miraculous gifts of the holy spirit, but not all Christians received the same gifts. (Read 1 Corinthians 12:4-11.) Jehovah entrusted them with different gifts and abilities, but each Christian was valuable. Today, we do not have the miraculous gifts of the holy spirit. But the principle still applies. We may not all have the same talents, but all of us are valuable to Jehovah.
16. What counsel from the apostle Paul do we need to apply?
16 Rather than compare ourselves with other Christians, we need to apply the inspired counsel of the apostle Paul: “Let each one examine his own actions, and then he will have cause for rejoicing in regard to himself alone, and not in comparison with the other person.”—Gal. 6:4.
17. How will we benefit if we follow Paul’s counsel?
17 If we follow Paul’s inspired counsel and examine our own actions, we may begin to see that we have unique gifts and abilities. For example, an elder may not be a gifted teacher when on the platform, but he may be very effective in the disciple-making work. Or he may not be as well-organized as some other elders in his congregation, but he might be well-known as a loving shepherd whom publishers feel free to approach for sound Scriptural advice. Or he might have a fine reputation for being hospitable. (Heb. 13:2, 16) When we clearly see our own strengths and gifts, we will have reason to feel good about what we can contribute to the congregation. And we will be less likely to envy our brothers who have gifts that are different from ours.
18. How can we develop our abilities?
18 No matter what place we have in the congregation, all of us should desire to improve in our service and develop our abilities. To help us improve, Jehovah provides wonderful training through his organization. For example, at our midweek meeting, we receive instruction on how to be more effective in our ministry. Are you taking full advantage of that training program?
19. How can you reach the goal of attending the School for Kingdom Evangelizers?
19 Another marvelous training program is the School for Kingdom Evangelizers. This school is open to brothers and sisters who are in the full-time ministry and who are between the ages of 23 and 65. It might seem to you that you could never reach this goal. But instead of making a list of reasons why you cannot attend, make a list of reasons why you want to attend. Then develop a plan that will help you meet the qualifications. With Jehovah’s help and with hard work on your part, what may have seemed impossible to you can become a reality.
USE YOUR GIFTS TO BUILD UP THE CONGREGATION
20. What can we learn from Romans 12:6-8?
20 The third lesson we can learn from Paul’s illustration is found at Romans 12:6-8. (Read.) Here Paul once again shows that those in the congregation have different gifts. But now he emphasizes that we should use whatever gift we have to build up and strengthen the congregation.
21-22. What lesson can we learn from Robert and Felice?
21 Consider the example of a brother whom we will call Robert. After serving in a foreign land, he was assigned to serve at Bethel in his home country. Although he was reassured that the change of assignment was not because of any deficiency on his part, he said: “The negative view I had of myself—feeling like a failure—lingered for many months. There were times when I felt like quitting Bethel service.” How did he regain his joy? A fellow elder reminded him that Jehovah has trained us in each previous assignment so that we can be more useful in our current assignment. Robert recognized that he needed to stop looking at the past and start focusing on what he could do right now.
22 Brother Felice Episcopo faced a similar challenge. He and his wife graduated from Gilead in 1956 and served in the circuit work in Bolivia. In 1964 they had a child. Felice said: “We found it a challenge to leave our precious assignment. I must admit that I wasted about a year feeling sorry for myself. But with Jehovah’s help, I changed my attitude and got on with my new responsibility as a parent.” Can you relate to Robert or Felice? Do you get discouraged because you currently do not have the same privileges of service that you had in the past? If so, you will be happier if you change your focus and concentrate on what you can do right now to serve Jehovah and your brothers. Stay busy, using your gifts and abilities to help others, and you will find joy as you build up the congregation.
23. What should we take time to do, and what will we consider in the next article?
23 Each one of us is precious to Jehovah. He wants us to be part of his family. If we take time to meditate on what we can do to build up our brothers and sisters and then work hard to fill that role, we will be less likely to feel that we do not belong in the congregation! But what about the way we view others in the congregation? How can we show that we appreciate them? In our next article, we will consider that important subject.
SONG 24 Come to Jehovah’s Mountain
All of us want to feel that we belong to Jehovah. But at times, we may wonder where we fit in. This article will help us to see that each one of us has a valuable place in the congregation.
EXPRESSION EXPLAINED: The place we have in Jehovah’s congregation refers to the role we play in building up and strengthening the congregation. It is not determined by our racial, tribal, economic, social, cultural, or educational background.
PICTURE DESCRIPTION: The three pictures show what takes place before, during, and after a congregation meeting. Picture 1: An elder warmly greets a visitor, a young brother sets up the sound equipment, and a sister converses with an elderly sister. Picture 2: Young and old try to give comments during the Watchtower Study. Picture 3: A couple give a hand in tidying up the Kingdom Hall. A mother helps her child to put a donation in the contribution box. A young brother looks after the literature, and a brother gives a word of encouragement to the elderly sister.