“Better to enjoy what the eyes see than to wander after one’s desires.”—ECCL. 6:9.
SONG 111 Our Reasons for Joy
1. How are many responding to the needs in the field?
WE HAVE a lot of work to do as this system nears its end. (Matt. 24:14; Luke 10:2; 1 Pet. 5:2) We all want to serve Jehovah as fully as we can. Many are expanding their ministry. Some hope to serve as pioneers. Others hope to serve at Bethel or share in the construction of theocratic facilities. And numerous brothers are reaching out to qualify as a ministerial servant or an elder. (1 Tim. 3:1, 8) How pleased Jehovah must be to see this willing spirit among his people!—Ps. 110:3; Isa. 6:8.
2. How might we react if we do not reach some of our spiritual goals?
2 We could begin to feel disheartened, however, if considerable time has passed and we have not yet reached some of our spiritual goals. Or we might be discouraged if because of age or other circumstances, some privileges are not available to us. (Prov. 13:12) That is the case with Melissa.* She would love to serve at Bethel or attend the School for Kingdom Evangelizers, but she states: “I am over the age limit. Now for me, those privileges are only a dream. At times, I feel discouraged.”
3. What steps might some have to take in order to qualify for certain privileges?
3 Some who are young and healthy may need to mature and display certain qualities before they can qualify for additional privileges. On the one hand, they may be intelligent, decisive, and eager; on the other hand, they may need to learn to be more patient, thorough, or respectful. If you focus on the needed qualities, a privilege of service may be extended to you when you least expect it. Consider the experience of Nick. When he was 20 years old, he was deeply disappointed because he was not appointed as a ministerial servant. He says, “I felt that there must be something wrong with me.” But Nick did not give up. He took full advantage of the privileges that were open to him. Today he serves as a member of a Branch Committee.
4. What will we consider in this article?
4 Are you discouraged because you have not yet reached a certain spiritual goal? If so, share your concerns with Jehovah. (Ps. 37:5-7) In addition, ask mature brothers for suggestions on how you can improve in your service to God, and then try your best to apply their counsel. If you do, you may well receive that privilege or reach that goal. But as is the case with Melissa, mentioned earlier, the privilege you desire may be beyond your reach at the present time. What then? How can you maintain your joy? To answer that question, this article will discuss (1) where to look for joy, (2) how to increase your joy, and (3) what kind of goals you can set that add to your joy.
WHERE TO LOOK FOR JOY
5. To be joyful, on what should we focus? (Ecclesiastes 6:9)
5 As recorded at Ecclesiastes 6:9, we can find joy if we look for it in the right place. (Read.) A person who enjoys “what the eyes see” appreciates what he has, such as his present circumstances. In contrast, the person who wanders after his desires keeps wishing for something he simply cannot have. So, what is the lesson for us? To find joy, we should focus on what we have and on what we can realistically hope to obtain.
6. What parable will we now consider, and on what will we focus?
6 Is it really possible to be satisfied with what you already have? After all, as time passes, we naturally seek out new challenges. Yes, it really is possible. We can enjoy and not merely settle for what our “eyes see.” How can we do that? To find out, let us consider Jesus’ parable of the talents, found at Matthew 25:14-30. We will focus on what it can teach us about how to find joy and even increase our joy in the blessings we presently have.
HOW TO INCREASE YOUR JOY
7. Briefly summarize Jesus’ parable about the talents.
7 In the parable, a man was about to go on a trip. Before leaving, he called his slaves and gave each of them talents with which to do business.* Taking into consideration their individual abilities, the man gave five talents to one slave, two to another, and one to a third slave. The first two slaves cared for these assets diligently. The third slave, however, did nothing with the money he was given, and he was dismissed from the master’s service.
8. Why could the first slave in the parable be joyful?
8 The first slave must have felt privileged to be entrusted with five of the master’s talents. That was a great deal of money, and it indicated the extent of the master’s trust in him! But what about the second slave? He could have been discouraged because he did not receive as many talents as the first slave did. But how did he respond?
9. What did Jesus not say about the second slave? (Matthew 25:22, 23)
9 Read Matthew 25:22, 23. Jesus did not say that the second slave became upset and resentful because he had received only two talents. And Jesus did not portray the slave as complaining: ‘Is this all I get? Why, I am just as capable as the slave who received five talents! If my master does not appreciate me, I may as well bury these two talents and pursue my own interests.’
10. What did the second slave do with his talents?
10 Like the first slave, the second slave took very seriously the responsibility he had been given and worked hard to serve his master. As a result, he doubled the master’s talents. This slave’s diligence and skill were richly rewarded. Not only did his master rejoice but he judged the slave worthy of taking on even more responsibility!
11. How can we increase our joy?
11 Similarly, we can increase our joy by becoming absorbed in whatever we are given to do in Jehovah’s service. Be “intensely occupied” in the preaching work, and be fully involved in congregation activities. (Acts 18:5; Heb. 10:24, 25) Go to the meetings prepared to give upbuilding comments on the material that is being studied. Take seriously any student assignments you have on the midweek meeting. If you are asked to help out with a certain task in the congregation, be punctual and reliable. Do not treat any assignment you are given as if it were unworthy of your time. Strive to improve your skills. (Prov. 22:29) The more absorbed you are in your spiritual activities and assignments, the quicker you will progress and the greater your joy will be. (Gal. 6:4) You will also find it easier to rejoice with others when they receive a privilege that you would have liked to receive.—Rom. 12:15; Gal. 5:26.
12. What steps did two Witnesses take to intensify their joy?
12 Remember Melissa, the sister who expressed her desire to serve at Bethel or attend the School for Kingdom Evangelizers? Although unable to fulfill those desires, she says: “I try to be fully involved in my pioneer ministry and to participate in all of its features. This has brought me great joy.” And how did Nick cope with his disappointment when he was passed over for appointment as a ministerial servant? “I focused on the privileges that were available to me—participating in the field ministry and giving meaningful comments at meetings. I also applied for Bethel service and was accepted the very next year.”
13. What will result if you become absorbed in your present assignment? (Ecclesiastes 2:24)
13 If you become fully absorbed in your present assignment, will you receive greater responsibilities in the future? That could happen, as it did for Nick. But if not, like Melissa, your joy will still increase, and you will have a great sense of satisfaction and accomplishment. (Read Ecclesiastes 2:24.) Furthermore, you will no doubt find great joy in knowing that your efforts are pleasing to our Master, Jesus Christ.
GOALS THAT ADD TO OUR JOY
14. With regard to our spiritual goals, what should we keep in mind?
14 Does focusing on our present assignments mean that we should stop looking for ways to expand our service to Jehovah? By no means! We can and should set spiritual goals that help us to keep stretching forward in our efforts to be productive in the ministry and helpful to our brothers and sisters. We succeed when we wisely and modestly focus on serving others instead of ourselves.—Prov. 11:2; Acts 20:35.
15. What are some goals that can help you to increase your joy?
15 What goals might you set for yourself? Ask Jehovah to help you discern what you can realistically hope to accomplish. (Prov. 16:3; Jas. 1:5) Could you pursue one of the goals mentioned in the first paragraph of this article—becoming an auxiliary or a regular pioneer, serving at Bethel, or sharing in theocratic construction projects? Or maybe you are in a position to learn a new language in order to spread the good news or even to preach in a foreign territory. You can learn what is involved by reviewing chapter 10 of the book Organized to Do Jehovah’s Will and by talking with the elders in your congregation.* As you work toward such goals, your advancement will become manifest and your joy will increase.
16. What can you do if you are presently unable to reach a specific goal?
16 But what if you are presently unable to reach one of the aforementioned goals? The key is to look for another goal, one that you can reasonably attain. Consider the following possibilities.
17 Read 1 Timothy 4:13, 15. If you are a baptized brother, you might work on improving your speaking and teaching ability. Why? Because your getting “absorbed in” reading, speaking, and teaching will be a blessing to your listeners. Try setting the goal of studying and applying each speech quality discussed in the brochure Apply Yourself to Reading and Teaching. Study one quality at a time, practice diligently at home, and endeavor to manifest that quality in your talk assignments. Seek out suggestions from the auxiliary counselor or other elders “who work hard in speaking and teaching.”* (1 Tim. 5:17) Focus not only on understanding the technique but also on helping your listeners to strengthen their faith or on motivating them to take a certain course of action. By doing so, you will enhance your joy and theirs.
18. What can help us reach goals in our field ministry?
18 All of us have the assignment to preach and make disciples. (Matt. 28:19, 20; Rom. 10:14) Would you like to sharpen your skills in this all-important work? Set specific goals as you study and apply what you learn in the Teaching brochure. You can obtain additional practical suggestions from the Our Christian Life and Ministry—Meeting Workbook and sample conversation videos shown at the midweek meetings. Try a variety of ideas to find out what works best. By following these suggestions, you will surely experience the incomparable joy of becoming a skilled Christian minister.—2 Tim. 4:5.
19. How might you develop Christian qualities?
19 When considering goals for yourself, do not neglect one of the most important—cultivating Christian qualities. (Gal. 5:22, 23; Col. 3:12; 2 Pet. 1:5-8) How could you proceed? Suppose, for example, that you want to develop stronger faith. You might read articles in our publications that give practical suggestions for strengthening your faith. You would certainly benefit from watching segments of JW Broadcasting® that illustrate how brothers and sisters have shown exemplary faith while dealing with various trials. Then consider ways in which you can imitate their faith in your own life.
20. How can we add to our joy and reduce disappointment?
20 No doubt all of us wish we could do more for Jehovah than we can do at present. In God’s new world, we will be able to serve him to the full. Meanwhile, by taking advantage of whatever opportunities are available to us, we can add to our joy and reduce any feelings of disappointment. Even more important, we will bring honor and praise to Jehovah, our “happy God.” (1 Tim. 1:11) So let us find joy in the privileges we have!
SONG 82 “Let Your Light Shine”
We love Jehovah very much, and we want to do all we can in his service. With that in mind, we might be moved to expand our ministry or to reach out to qualify for additional privileges in the congregation. But what if despite our best efforts, we are unable to reach some goals? How can we remain productive and maintain our joy? We find an answer in Jesus’ illustration of the talents.
Some names have been changed.
EXPRESSION EXPLAINED: A talent was the equivalent of about 20 years’ wages for an average worker.
EXPRESSION EXPLAINED: The auxiliary counselor is an elder assigned to give private counsel as needed to elders and ministerial servants regarding any speaking assignments they may handle in the congregation.
PICTURE DESCRIPTION: To reach his goal of becoming a better teacher, a brother does research in our publications.
PICTURE DESCRIPTION: After setting the goal of sharing in informal witnessing, a sister offers a contact card to the waitress who served her.
PICTURE DESCRIPTION: Moved by the desire to show Christian qualities, a sister surprises a fellow worshipper with a gift.