Pioneering Strengthens Our Relationship With God
“It is good to make melody to our God.”—PS. 147:1.
QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION
How can pioneering strengthen your relationship with Jehovah?
If you are a pioneer, what can help you to continue in this rewarding avenue of service?
If you are not now a pioneer, what adjustments may help you to join the pioneer ranks?
1, 2. (a) What can result from thinking and speaking about a loved one? (See opening image.) (b) What questions will we consider?
THINKING and speaking about a loved one can strengthen our bond with that person. The same is true regarding our relationship with Jehovah God. As a shepherd, David spent many a night gazing at the starry heavens and meditating on their incomparable Creator. He wrote: “When I see your heavens, the works of your fingers, the moon and the stars that you have prepared, what is mortal man that you keep him in mind, and the son of earthling man that you take care of him?” (Ps. 8:3, 4) And after considering how Jehovah’s purpose with regard to spiritual Israel was being fulfilled in a marvelous way, the apostle Paul exclaimed: “O the depth of God’s riches and wisdom and knowledge!”—Rom. 11:17-26, 33.
2 As we share in the ministry, we think and talk about Jehovah. That in itself has positive effects. Many who are able to engage in the full-time ministry have found that one blessing that results from their increased share in Kingdom service is that it has deepened their love for God. Whether you are presently in the full-time service or you are working toward that goal, consider this: How can the full-time ministry strengthen your relationship with Jehovah? If you are a pioneer, ask yourself, ‘What will help me to continue in this rewarding avenue of service?’ If you are not yet pioneering, ask, ‘What adjustments can I make to begin doing so?’ Let us consider ways that full-time service can strengthen our relationship with God.
FULL-TIME SERVICE AND OUR RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD
3. In the ministry, how are we affected by speaking about future Kingdom blessings?
3 Discussing future Kingdom blessings with others draws us closer to Jehovah. What scripture do you like to use when you go from house to house? Might your favorite be Psalm 37:10, 11; Daniel 2:44; John 5:28, 29; or Revelation 21:3, 4? Each time we discuss such promises with others, we are reminded that our generous God truly is the giver of “every good gift and every perfect present.” This draws us closer to him.—Jas. 1:17.
4. Why is our appreciation for God’s goodness deepened when we see the spiritually destitute condition of others?
4 Seeing the spiritually destitute condition of those to whom we preach deepens our appreciation for the truth. People in the world have no reliable guidance to help them achieve success and happiness. Most worry about the future and have no hope. They search for the meaning of life. Even most who are religious have little knowledge of the Scriptures. They are much like the people of ancient Nineveh. (Read Jonah 4:11.) When we have an increased share in the ministry, we see more clearly the contrast between the spiritual condition of those to whom we preach and that of Jehovah’s people. (Isa. 65:13) We are reminded of Jehovah’s goodness in that he does more than provide for our spiritual needs; he invites all to receive spiritual refreshment and a real hope.—Rev. 22:17.
5. How does helping others spiritually make us feel about our own problems?
5 Helping others spiritually makes it easier for us to avoid becoming overwhelmed by personal problems. Trisha, a regular pioneer, found this to be true when her parents got divorced. She relates: “It was one of the most emotionally upsetting events of my life.” One day when she was quite sad and felt like staying home, she nevertheless went to conduct a Bible study with three children whose home situation was very troubled. Their father had abandoned them, and their older brother had abused them. Trisha says: “Any problem or heartache I was dealing with was nothing compared to theirs. As we studied, their little eyes would light up and they would giggle with excitement and joy. Those children were a gift from Jehovah, especially that day.”
6, 7. (a) How is our faith strengthened when we teach Bible truths? (b) As we observe Bible students improve their lives by applying Scriptural principles, what happens to our appreciation for God’s wisdom?
6 Teaching Bible truths strengthens our faith. The apostle Paul wrote of some Jews in his day who failed to practice what they preached: “Do you, . . . the one teaching someone else, not teach yourself?” (Rom. 2:21) How different it is with pioneers today! They generally have many opportunities to teach the truth to others and conduct Bible studies. To do so effectively requires that they prepare for each study and perhaps do research to answer questions. A pioneer named Janeen explains: “Each time I have an opportunity to teach the truth to others, I feel that a deeper impression of these truths is engraved on my mind and heart. As a result, my faith is not stagnant but continues to grow.”
7 Observing Bible students improve their lives by applying Bible principles deepens our appreciation for God’s wisdom. (Isa. 48:17, 18) That helps us, in turn, be more determined to continue applying these principles in our own life. Adrianna, another pioneer, comments: “People’s lives can be a mess when they rely on their own wisdom. But when they start relying on Jehovah’s wisdom, the benefits begin right away.” Similarly, Phil states: “You see how Jehovah is able to change people who were unsuccessful when they tried to change on their own.”
8. How does working alongside good associates in the ministry affect us?
8 Working alongside good associates in the ministry builds us up spiritually. (Prov. 13:20) Most pioneers spend considerable time in the ministry with fellow evangelizers. This provides more opportunities for “an interchange of encouragement.” (Rom. 1:12; read Proverbs 27:17.) A pioneer named Lisa observes: “In the workplace, there is often a spirit of competition and jealousy. Daily you are subjected to gossip and vulgar language. It’s all about getting ahead at any cost. At times, you are ridiculed or mocked because of your Christian conduct. However, working in the ministry with fellow Christians is truly upbuilding. At the end of the day, I come home refreshed, no matter how tired I am.”
9. Pioneering with our marriage mate can do what for the threefold marital cord?
9 Pioneering with our marriage mate strengthens the threefold marital cord. (Eccl. 4:12) Madeline, who pioneers along with her husband, explains: “My husband and I are able to spend time talking about our day in the ministry or something in our Bible reading that can be applied in our ministry. Each year that we pioneer together, we grow closer.” Similarly, Trisha says: “We are both focused on not getting into debt, so we don’t fight about money. We have the same service schedule, so we are very involved in each other’s return visits and Bible studies, which helps us to keep the same pace emotionally and spiritually.”
10. When we put the Kingdom first and experience God’s support, how is our trust in Jehovah affected?
10 Our trust in Jehovah increases as we put Kingdom interests first, experience Jehovah’s support, and see him answer our prayers. To an extent, that is true of all loyal Christians. But those in the full-time service find that reliance on Jehovah can help them to remain as pioneers. (Read Matthew 6:30-34.) Curt, who is a pioneer and a substitute circuit overseer, agreed to visit a congregation two and a half hours from his home. He and his wife, also a pioneer, had barely enough gasoline in their car to make it to the congregation but not back, and his payday was a week away. Curt comments, “I began to question if I had made the right decision.” After praying, they concluded that they would fulfill the assignment, confident that God would care for their needs. As they were about to leave, a sister called and said that she had a gift for them. It was the exact amount of money they needed to complete the trip. Curt says, “When you have experiences like this time and again, it is easy to see the hand of Jehovah.”
11. What are some of the blessings that pioneers experience?
11 Yes, pioneers have often found that as they expend themselves in Jehovah’s service and pursue intimacy with him, they are ‘overtaken’ by a seemingly endless stream of blessings. (Deut. 28:2) Still, pioneering has its challenges. No servant of God is immune to problems caused by Adam’s rebellion. Though some pioneers have found that they have had to discontinue their service for a time, the challenges can often be managed or even avoided. What may help pioneers to continue enjoying their privileged service?
REMAINING IN THE FULL-TIME SERVICE
12, 13. (a) A pioneer should do what if he is having trouble reaching his hour goal? (b) Why is scheduling daily Bible reading, personal study, and meditation so important?
12 Most pioneers have a very full schedule. It can be a struggle to get everything done, so good personal organization is important. (1 Cor. 14:33, 40) If a pioneer is having difficulty reaching the hour goal, he might need to reexamine how he is using his time. (Eph. 5:15, 16) He might ask: ‘How much time am I actually expending on recreation or leisure pursuits? Do I need to exercise greater self-discipline? Could I adjust my secular work schedule?’ Any Christian will admit that it is easy to add things to one’s schedule; thus, those in the full-time service may need to assess matters regularly and make adjustments if needed.
13 Daily Bible reading, personal study, and meditation ought to be part of a pioneer’s schedule. Accordingly, a pioneer needs self-discipline so that less important activities do not encroach on the time he has set aside for those essential things. (Phil. 1:10) For example, picture him coming home after a long day in the ministry. He intends to use the evening to prepare for the upcoming meeting. First, though, he reads his mail. Then he turns on the computer and reads and answers e-mail. While he is online, he goes to a Web site to see if the price has gone down on an item he wants to purchase. Before he realizes it, almost two hours have gone by and he has not yet begun to study what he had in mind for that evening. Why is that an issue? Professional athletes must take care of their bodies if they want to have a long career. Similarly, pioneers need a good routine of personal study to replenish themselves spiritually if they are to persist in the full-time ministry.—1 Tim. 4:16.
14, 15. (a) Why should pioneers keep their life simple? (b) If a pioneer experiences difficulties, what should he do?
14 Successful pioneers strive to keep their life simple. Jesus encouraged his disciples to have a simple eye. (Matt. 6:22) He kept his own life simple so that he could accomplish his ministry without distraction. He could say: “Foxes have dens and birds of heaven have roosts, but the Son of man has nowhere to lay down his head.” (Matt. 8:20) Desiring to learn from Jesus’ example, a pioneer does well to keep in mind that the more material things he has, the more he will have to maintain, repair, or replace.
15 Pioneers realize that their privilege of service is not the result of any special merit on their part. Rather, any gift or service privilege that we might have is because of God’s undeserved kindness. Thus, in order to continue as a pioneer, each one must rely on Jehovah. (Phil. 4:13) Challenges and difficulties will arise. (Ps. 34:19) When they do, pioneers should look to Jehovah for direction and give him the opportunity to help, rather than quickly giving up their privilege of service. (Read Psalm 37:5.) As they experience God’s loving assistance, they will be drawn closer to him as their caring heavenly Father.—Isa. 41:10.
CAN YOU JOIN THE PIONEER RANKS?
16. If you would like to pioneer, what should you do?
16 If you would like to experience blessings like the ones enjoyed by those in the full-time service, make your desire known to Jehovah. (1 John 5:14, 15) Talk to those who are currently pioneering. Set progressive goals toward becoming a pioneer. That is what Keith and Erika did. They had been working full-time and, like many couples their age, had bought a house and a new car soon after they got married. They say: “We thought those things would bring us satisfaction—but they never did.” When Keith got laid off from work, he served as an auxiliary pioneer. He recalls: “Pioneering reminded me of how much joy comes from being in the ministry.” They became friends with a pioneer couple who helped them to see the joy that results from leading a simple life and pioneering. What did Keith and Erika do? “We made a list of our spiritual goals, put it on our refrigerator, and checked each goal off as we reached it.” In time, they were able to pioneer.
17. Why would it be wise for you to consider adjusting your schedule or lifestyle in order to pioneer?
17 Can you enter the pioneer ranks? If you do not at this point see how that is possible, do all you can to increase your closeness to Jehovah by having a full share in the ministry. After prayerful examination, you may find that making some adjustments in your schedule or lifestyle will allow you to pioneer. If you can pioneer, the joys you receive will far outweigh any sacrifices you will make. You will have increased satisfaction that comes from putting Kingdom interests ahead of your own. (Matt. 6:33) You will experience the increased happiness that comes from giving to others. Furthermore, you will have more opportunities to think and talk about Jehovah, deepening your love for him and bringing him pleasure.
[Picture on page 27]
[Pictures on page 29]
Being active in the full-time service makes for a satisfying life (See paragraph 9)