STUDY ARTICLE 36
Value the Strength of Youth
“The glory of young men is their strength.”—PROV. 20:29.
SONG 88 Make Me Know Your Ways
1. What practical goal can we set for ourselves as we grow older?
AS WE grow older, we may be afraid that we are not going to be as useful to Jehovah as we once were. While it may be true that we have less energy than before, we can use the wisdom and experience we have acquired to help younger ones reach their full potential and take on new responsibilities. One longtime elder said, “When I began to feel the limitations of old age, I was grateful that there were qualified younger brothers available to take up the work.”
2. What will we discuss in this article?
2 The preceding article discussed how younger ones benefit when they draw closer to older ones. In this article, we will see how such qualities as humility, modesty, gratitude, and generosity can help older ones to work along with younger ones, resulting in a blessing for the entire congregation.
3. According to Philippians 2:3, 4, what is humility, and how can it help a Christian?
3 Older ones must be humble if they want to help younger ones. A humble person views others as being superior to him. (Read Philippians 2:3, 4.) Older ones who show this quality realize that in many cases there is more than one Scriptural and effective way to carry out an assignment. Thus, they have a realistic view of the way they did things in the past. (Eccl. 7:10) While they have much valuable experience to share with the younger generation, they realize that “the scene of this world is changing” and that it may be necessary for them to adapt to new circumstances.—1 Cor. 7:31.
4. How do circuit overseers show an attitude similar to that of the Levites?
4 Humble older ones recognize that as they age, they cannot do as much as they once did. Consider, for example, our circuit overseers. When they reach 70 years of age, they are invited to take up a different assignment. That may be a challenge. They cherished the privilege of serving their brothers. It was an assignment they loved, and the desire to be used in that way is still burning brightly in their heart. But they understand that younger hands are needed to care for the work. They thus show an attitude similar to that of the Levites in ancient Israel who, at the age of 50, were required to discontinue their service at the tabernacle. The joy of those older Levites was not tied to a particular privilege. They took full advantage of the privileges that were available to them, doing all they could to assist the younger ones. (Num. 8:25, 26) Today, former circuit overseers, although no longer serving a number of congregations, are proving to be a real blessing to the congregation to which they are assigned.
5. What do you learn from the example set by Dan and Katie?
5 Consider the example of Dan, who served as a circuit overseer for 23 years. When Dan reached the age of 70, he and his wife, Katie, were assigned to be special pioneers. How have they adjusted to their new circumstances? Dan says that now he is busier than ever! He cares for his congregation responsibilities, helps brothers to qualify as ministerial servants, and trains others to share in witnessing in metropolitan areas and in prisons. Older ones, whether you are in full-time service or not, you can do much to help others. How? Adapt to your changed circumstances, set new goals, and focus on what you can do rather than on what you cannot do.
6. Why is it wise to be modest? Illustrate.
6 A modest person acknowledges his limitations. (Prov. 11:2) Modesty moves him to adjust his expectations of how much he can do. As a result, he will remain happy and productive. We could compare a modest person with someone driving a vehicle uphill. The driver needs to change to a lower gear in order to continue driving up the slope. True, he will probably travel more slowly, but he will keep moving forward. Similarly, a modest person knows when it is time to “change to a lower gear” so that he can continue to be active and productive in Jehovah’s service.—Phil. 4:5.
7. How did Barzillai show modesty?
7 Note the example of Barzillai, who was 80 years old when King David invited him to become part of the royal court. Modest Barzillai declined the king’s offer. Recognizing his personal limitations because of his age, Barzillai recommended that a younger man, Chimham, go in his place. (2 Sam. 19:35-37) Like Barzillai, older men are happy to give younger men the opportunity to serve.
8. How did King David show modesty regarding the construction of the temple?
8 King David also set an excellent example of modesty. With all his heart, he wanted to build a house for Jehovah. But when Jehovah informed him that this privilege would be given to young Solomon, David accepted Jehovah’s decision and gave his wholehearted support to the project. (1 Chron. 17:4; 22:5) David did not feel that he was the better one for the assignment because Solomon was “young and inexperienced.” (1 Chron. 29:1) David knew that the success of the construction project depended on Jehovah’s blessing, not on the age or the experience of those taking the lead. In imitation of David, older ones today remain active even when their role changes. And they know that Jehovah will bless the young ones who are doing the work they once did.
9. How did a Branch Committee member show modesty?
9 A modern-day example of modesty is a brother named Shigeo. In 1976, at 30 years of age, he was appointed to serve on a Branch Committee. In 2004 he became the Branch Committee coordinator. Later he realized that he had reached the limit of his physical strength and could no longer handle the work promptly. He prayerfully considered the benefits of having a younger brother take over the responsibilities. Although no longer the coordinator, Shigeo continues to serve as a cooperative member of the Branch Committee. As seen in the examples of Barzillai, King David, and Shigeo, a person who is humble and modest will focus, not on the inexperience of young ones, but on their strengths. He will view them, not as competitors, but as fellow workers.—Prov. 20:29.
10. What attitude do older ones have toward younger ones in the congregation?
10 Older ones view younger ones as gifts from Jehovah for which they are grateful. As their energy decreases, older ones are thankful that those who have the strength of youth are willing and able to fill the need and serve the congregation.
11. How does Ruth 4:13-16 illustrate the blessings that can come from gratefully accepting the help of younger ones?
11 The Bible character Naomi is an excellent example of an older one who gratefully accepted help from a younger one. At first, Naomi urged her widowed daughter-in-law Ruth to return to her own people. However, when Ruth insisted on accompanying Naomi back to Bethlehem, she accepted Ruth’s loyal support. (Ruth 1:7, 8, 18) And what a blessing that was for both women! (Read Ruth 4:13-16.) Humility will move older ones to follow Naomi’s example.
12. How did the apostle Paul express his gratitude?
12 The apostle Paul was grateful for the help he received. For example, he thanked the Christians in Philippi for material gifts they had sent to him. (Phil. 4:16) He expressed gratitude for the help that Timothy had given him. (Phil. 2:19-22) And Paul thanked God for those who came to encourage him as he was being transported to Rome as a prisoner. (Acts 28:15) Paul was a dynamic individual who traveled thousands of miles to preach and to strengthen the congregations. Yet, he was not too proud to accept support from his brothers and sisters.
13. How can older ones show their gratitude for younger ones?
13 Older ones, you can show your gratitude for the younger ones in your congregation in a number of ways. If they want to help you with transportation, shopping, or other physical needs, gratefully accept their assistance. View such help as an expression of Jehovah’s love. You may be surprised at the bonds of friendship that might develop. Always show interest in the spiritual growth of your young companions, and tell them how happy you are to see young ones reaching out to be of greater service in the congregation. And be willing to spend time sharing your life’s experiences with them. When you do, you will “show yourselves thankful” to Jehovah for the younger ones whom he has drawn to the congregation.—Col. 3:15; John 6:44; 1 Thess. 5:18.
14. How did King David show his generosity?
14 We find in the example of King David another vital quality that older ones need to show—generosity. He made substantial donations from his personal wealth to support the construction of the temple. (1 Chron. 22:11-16; 29:3, 4) He did this even though primary credit for the project would go to his son Solomon. When we no longer have the physical strength to participate in theocratic construction projects, we can continue to support these projects by means of our contributions, to the extent that our circumstances allow. And we can help younger ones to benefit from the experience we have acquired over the years.
15. What valuable gifts did the apostle Paul share with Timothy?
15 In regard to generosity, consider the example set by the apostle Paul. He invited Timothy to join him in the missionary work, and Paul generously shared his preaching and teaching methods with this younger man. (Acts 16:1-3) Paul’s training helped Timothy to be effective in spreading the good news. (1 Cor. 4:17) Timothy, in turn, used Paul’s methods to train others.
16. Why did Shigeo train others?
16 Older ones today are not afraid that they will no longer be useful if they train younger ones to do the work they used to do in the congregation. For example, over the years, Shigeo, mentioned earlier, gave practical training to younger members of the Branch Committee. He did this in order to serve the interests of the Kingdom work in the country where he is located. As a result, when the time came, a well-trained brother was available to replace him as coordinator. Shigeo continues to share his more than 45 years of Branch Committee experience with younger brothers. What a blessing such ones are to God’s people!
17. In harmony with Luke 6:38, what can older ones give to others?
17 You older brothers and sisters are living proof that serving Jehovah with faith and integrity is the best way of life. By your example, you show that it is worth the effort to learn Bible principles and apply them in your life. You know from experience how things were done in the past, but you also see the need to adapt to changing circumstances. You older ones who recently got baptized also have much to give; you can share the joys of getting to know Jehovah later in life. Younger ones will appreciate hearing about your experiences and the lessons you have learned. If you “practice giving” from your storehouse of experience, Jehovah will bless you richly.—Read Luke 6:38.
18. What mutual benefit can older and younger ones enjoy?
18 As you dear older ones draw closer to younger ones, you will be able to support one another. (Rom. 1:12) Each has something of value that the other does not possess. Older ones have the wisdom and experience that they gained with the passing of time. Younger ones have energy and strength. When young and old work together as friends, they bring praise to our loving heavenly Father and are a blessing to all in the congregation.
SONG 90 Encourage One Another
a Our congregations are blessed with many young men and women who strive to support Jehovah’s organization. Older ones in the congregation, regardless of their culture or background, can help younger ones to use their strength fully in Jehovah’s service.
b PICTURE DESCRIPTION: When a circuit overseer reached 70 years of age, he and his wife received a new assignment. Their years of experience allow them to train others in the congregation where they now serve.