LAST year, thousands of brothers all over the world were appointed as elders and ministerial servants. If you are one of them, surely you are happy that you can serve Jehovah and your brothers in this new way.
It is normal, though, if you also feel a little anxious. Jason, a young elder, says: “When I was first appointed, I felt quite overwhelmed by my new responsibilities.” Moses and Jeremiah felt that they were not qualified when they received new assignments from Jehovah. (Exodus 4:10; Jeremiah 1:6) If you feel the same way, what can you do to build your confidence and continue to make progress? You can learn much from the example of Timothy.—Acts 16:1-3.
IMITATE TIMOTHY’S EXAMPLE
Timothy was probably about 20 years old when he started traveling with the apostle Paul. When he first received this invitation, Timothy may have felt that he was not qualified to teach and counsel others because he was so young. (1 Timothy 4:11, 12; 2 Timothy 1:1, 2, 7) But he continued to make progress, and ten years later Paul said to the Philippians: “I am hoping in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you shortly.” Why did Paul feel this way? He explained: “I have no one else of a disposition like his.”—Philippians 2:19, 20.
Why is Timothy an excellent example for elders? Consider six reasons.
1. He truly cared about people. Paul told the brothers in Philippi that Timothy would “genuinely care” for them. (Philippians 2:20) Timothy wanted the brothers to remain close to Jehovah, and he was willing to sacrifice his time and energy to help them.
William, who has been an elder for more than 20 years, always tells newly appointed elders: “Love the brothers. Focus on their needs rather than on the administrative side of things.” Do not be like a bus driver who cares more about arriving at the bus stops on time than about letting passengers get on the bus.
2. He put Jehovah’s service first. Paul said that Timothy was different from those who were “seeking their own interests, not those of Jesus Christ.” (Philippians 2:21) Paul noticed that the brothers around him were too focused on their own lives. Sometimes they put their own interests ahead of serving Jehovah. But not Timothy! As soon as he had the opportunity to do more in God’s service, he reacted like Isaiah, who said: “Here I am! Send me!”—Isaiah 6:8.
How can you be balanced as you take care of your personal needs and the needs of the congregation? First, follow Paul’s advice: “Make sure of the more important things.” (Philippians 1:10) Put Jehovah’s service first. Second, avoid activities that will take too much of your time and energy. Paul told Timothy: “Flee from youthful desires, but pursue righteousness, faith, love, peace.”—2 Timothy 2:22.
3. He worked hard in Jehovah’s service. Paul said about Timothy: “Like a child with a father he slaved with me to advance the good news.” (Philippians 2:22) Timothy was not lazy. He worked hard together with Paul, and this made their friendship stronger.
There is a lot of work to do in Jehovah’s organization today. This work is truly satisfying and will help you to draw close to your brothers and sisters. So make sure that you always have “plenty to do in the work of the Lord.”—1 Corinthians 15:58.
4. He applied what he learned. Paul wrote to Timothy: “You have closely followed my teaching, my course of life, my purpose, my faith, my patience, my love, my endurance.” (2 Timothy 3:10) Timothy applied what he learned, so he received even more responsibility.—1 Corinthians 4:17.
Why not find an experienced elder whom you can view as a role model? Tom, who has been an elder for many years, remembers that an experienced elder took a personal interest in him and gave him excellent training. He says: “I regularly asked for and applied his advice. This rapidly built up my confidence.”
5. He kept training himself. Paul advised Timothy: “Train yourself with godly devotion as your aim.” (1 Timothy 4:7) Even if an athlete has a coach, he still needs to train himself. Paul urged Timothy: “Continue applying yourself to public reading, to exhortation, to teaching. . . . Ponder over these things; be absorbed in them, so that your advancement may be plainly seen by all people.”—1 Timothy 4:13-15.
You too need to keep improving your skills. Be a diligent student of the Bible, and stay up-to-date with the latest direction from the organization. Do not become overconfident. It would be wrong to think that you have so much experience that you can deal with any situation without doing careful research. Like Timothy, “pay constant attention to yourself and to your teaching.”—1 Timothy 4:16.
6. He relied on Jehovah’s spirit. When speaking of Timothy’s ministry, Paul reminded him: “Guard this fine trust by means of the holy spirit, which is dwelling in us.” (2 Timothy 1:14) Timothy needed to rely on God’s spirit.
Donald, who has been an elder for many years, says: “Appointed men must cherish their relationship with God. Those who do will go ‘from strength to strength.’ If they pray for God’s spirit and cultivate its fruitage, they will be a real blessing to their brothers.”—Psalm 84:7; 1 Peter 4:11.
VALUE YOUR ASSIGNMENT
It is encouraging to see new ministerial servants and elders who, like you, continue to make progress in their service to Jehovah. Jason, who was mentioned earlier, says: “During the time that I’ve been an elder, I’ve learned a lot and my confidence has grown. Now I really enjoy my assignment and view it as a wonderful privilege!”
Will you keep making progress? If you follow Timothy’s example, you too will be a blessing to your brothers and sisters.