“We continually remember your faithful work, your loving labor.”—1 THESS. 1:3.
1. How did Paul feel about those who diligently serve Jehovah?
THE apostle Paul remembered those who worked hard in behalf of the good news. Paul wrote: “We continually remember your faithful work, your loving labor, and your endurance because of your hope in our Lord Jesus Christ in the presence of our God and Father.” (1 Thess. 1:3) Indeed, Jehovah himself remembers the loving labors of all who faithfully serve him, whether their circumstances in life permit them to do much or little.—Heb. 6:10.
2. What will we consider in this article?
2 Many of our fellow servants—past and present—have made great sacrifices to serve Jehovah full-time. Let us take a look at how some served in the first century. We will also examine some forms of full-time service in modern times and see how we can remember the dear ones who have offered themselves to serve in special ways.
3, 4. (a) How did some serve in the first century? (b) How were their physical needs met?
3 Not long after his baptism, Jesus launched a work that was to reach global proportions. (Luke 3:21-23; 4:14, 15, 43) After his death, his apostles took the lead in the expansion of this preaching work. (Acts 5:42; 6:7) Some Christians, such as Philip, served as evangelizers and missionaries in Palestine. (Acts 8:5, 40; 21:8) Paul and others traveled farther afield. (Acts 13:2-4; 14:26; 2 Cor. 1:19) Some—for example, Silvanus (Silas), Mark, and Luke—also served as copyists or writers. (1 Pet. 5:12) Christian sisters worked along with these faithful brothers. (Acts 18:26; Rom. 16:1, 2) Their exciting experiences help to make the Christian Greek Scriptures a thrill to read and demonstrate that Jehovah remembers his servants favorably.
4 How were early full-time servants supported materially? At times, they received hospitality and other forms of aid from fellow Christians, but they did not demand such aid. (1 Cor. 9:11-15) Some individuals and congregations willingly rendered support. (Read Acts 16:14, 15; Philippians 4:15-18.) Paul and his traveling companions also worked part-time to help cover their own expenses.
FULL-TIME SERVANTS IN MODERN TIMES
5. What feelings did one married couple express about their life in the full-time service?
5 Today, too, many exert themselves in various aspects of the full-time service. (See the box “Fields of Full-Time Service.”) How do they feel about their chosen career? That is a question you can ask them, and you will likely find yourself rewarded for doing so. Consider an example: A brother who has served as a regular pioneer, a special pioneer, a missionary, and a member of the Bethel family in a foreign land says: “I feel that entering the full-time service is one of the best choices I have ever made. At 18 years of age, I struggled with making a decision between offers for university training, a full-time secular career, and pioneering. Experience has shown me that Jehovah does not forget the sacrifices you make to serve him full-time. I have been able to use any talents or abilities that Jehovah has given me in ways that would never have been possible had I chosen a worldly career.” His wife comments: “Every assignment has helped me to grow. We have felt Jehovah’s protection and direction over and over again and in ways that would never have happened had we stayed in our own little comfort zone. I thank Jehovah every day for our life in full-time service.” Would you like to look at your life that way?
6. What confidence should all have as to Jehovah’s feelings?
6 Of course, some have circumstances that do not allow them to share in the ministry full-time at this point. We can be confident that Jehovah values their whole-souled efforts as well. Think of those whom Paul named at Philemon 1-3, including all who were part of the congregation in Colossae. (Read.) Paul appreciated them, and so did Jehovah. In the same way, our heavenly Father appreciates your service. How, though, might you give support to those who are now serving full-time?
7, 8. What does pioneer service involve, and how can others in the congregation help pioneers?
7 Like first-century evangelizers, zealous pioneers are a rich source of encouragement to the congregations. Many endeavor to devote 70 hours each month to the ministry. How can you help them?
8 One pioneer sister named Shari observed: “Pioneers look strong, being out in service every day. Still, they need encouragement.” (Rom. 1:11, 12) Another sister who was able to pioneer for some years said about the pioneers in her congregation: “They work hard and endlessly. When others offer to drive in service, invite them for a meal, give them a little gas money or some other financial boost, they are grateful. It shows them that you really care.”
9, 10. What have some done to help pioneers in their congregation?
9 Would you like to help the pioneers in the ministry? A pioneer named Bobbi pleaded: “We need more support during the week.” A fellow pioneer in the same congregation added: “Getting companions in the afternoon is a real problem.” A sister now serving at Brooklyn Bethel fondly relates about her pioneer service: “One sister who had a car said, ‘Any time that you get stuck without a partner, you call me, and I will go in service with you.’ She absolutely saved my pioneering.” And Shari makes this perceptive point: “After service, single pioneers are often all alone. You might invite single brothers or sisters to your family worship from time to time. Including them in other activities also helps keep them strong.”
10 Looking back on her pioneering with other single sisters, one sister who has been in the full-time service for almost 50 years recalls: “Our elders visited the pioneers every couple of months. They asked about our health and secular work and checked to see if we had any concerns. They really meant it. They visited our apartment so that they could see whether we needed assistance.” This may call to your mind Paul’s appreciation for the services rendered to him by a family man in Ephesus.—2 Tim. 1:18.
11. What does serving as a special pioneer involve?
11 Some congregations are blessed to have special pioneers serving with them. Many of these brothers and sisters endeavor to devote 130 hours each month to the field ministry. Because of the time they spend in the ministry and in helping out in other ways, they spend little or no time doing secular work. The branch office provides them with a modest monthly allowance so that they can focus on the ministry.
12. How may elders and others assist special pioneers?
12 How might we assist special pioneers? An elder in a branch office who is in touch with many of them explains: “The elders need to speak to them, find out what their circumstances are, and then determine how they can assist them. Some Witnesses assume that special pioneers are wholly cared for because they get an allowance, but the local brothers can assist them in many ways.” Like regular pioneers, special pioneers appreciate having companions in the field ministry. Can you help in that way?
BEING OF HELP TO TRAVELING OVERSEERS
13, 14. (a) What should we remember about circuit overseers? (b) What do you think you could do to assist those who are serving in the traveling work?
13 Circuit overseers and their wives are often viewed as spiritually strong, resilient people. This is true of them, yet they too need encouragement, companionship in the ministry, and inclusion in a balanced amount of recreation. What if they get sick and are hospitalized, perhaps needing surgery or physical therapy? How refreshing they find it when local brothers and sisters assist with their needs and take a personal interest in them. We can imagine the concern that “the beloved physician” Luke, writer of the book of Acts, must have shown toward Paul and other traveling companions.—Col. 4:14; Acts 20:5–21:18.
14 Traveling overseers and their wives need and cherish close friends. One circuit overseer wrote: “My friends seem to know when I need encouragement. They ask discerning questions, and this helps me to talk about what concerns me. Just by being good listeners, they are a great help.” Circuit overseers and their wives deeply appreciate the personal interest their brothers and sisters show.
GIVING SUPPORT TO BETHEL FAMILY MEMBERS
15, 16. What services do those in the Bethel family and at Assembly Halls provide, and how can we be of support?
15 Worldwide, those serving at Bethel and Assembly Halls provide vital support to the Kingdom work in the lands supervised by their branch office. If your congregation or circuit includes Bethelites, how can you show that you remember them?
16 When they first arrive at Bethel, they may experience some homesickness, for they have left family and dear friends. How grateful they are when fellow Bethelites and their new congregation befriend them! (Mark 10:29, 30) Their normal work schedule allows them to attend congregation meetings and to have a share in the field service each week. Periodically, however, Bethelites may have extra duties. When congregations understand this and show that they appreciate the Bethelites and the work they are doing, everyone benefits.—Read 1 Thessalonians 2:9.
HELPING FULL-TIME SERVANTS IN FOREIGN FIELDS
17, 18. What fields of service include foreign assignments?
17 Those who accept an assignment to serve in another country may encounter foods, languages, customs, and conditions that are very different from what they were used to. Why do they choose to accept the challenge of such changes?
18 Some are missionaries, who primarily serve in the field ministry where many can benefit from their specialized training. The branch office provides missionaries with modest lodging and an allowance to cover their basic needs. Others who serve in foreign lands are assigned to serve at a branch office or to assist with the construction of branch facilities, remote translation offices, Assembly Halls, or Kingdom Halls. Meals, modest housing, and other services are provided. Like Bethel family members, they regularly attend meetings and share in the ministry locally, so they are a blessing in many ways.
19. What should we bear in mind about those serving in foreign fields?
19 How can you keep such full-time servants in mind? Remember that—especially at first—they may not be used to some local foods. You can have this in mind when you invite them for a meal; you could first ask what they would feel comfortable eating or would like to try. Be patient as they learn the local language and customs. It may take some time before they understand everything you say, but you can kindly help them with their pronunciation. They want to learn!
20. In what fine way can we remember full-time servants and their parents?
20 Full-time servants age, and so do their parents. When parents are Witnesses, likely their fondest wish is for their children to stay in their assignments. (3 John 4) Of course, if their parents need care, full-time servants will do all they can and will come to help them as often as possible. Still, those back home may help those in the full-time ministry by being ready to provide care if aging parents need assistance. Bear in mind that full-time servants have significant responsibilities in the most important work the world has ever known. (Matt. 28:19, 20) Could you or your congregation lend a hand if the parents of full-time servants need help?
21. How do those who serve full-time feel about assistance and encouragement that others give?
21 Those who enter the full-time ministry do so, not to gain financially, but to give—to Jehovah and to others. They deeply appreciate any help you can render. A sister serving in a foreign land echoes the feelings of many: “Even a note expressing appreciation shows that others are thinking of you and that they are happy about what you are doing.”
22. How do you feel about full-time service?
22 Serving Jehovah full-time is truly the most rewarding way of life. It is challenging, instructive, and fulfilling. And it is fine preparation for the long-lasting joyful service that awaits all faithful servants of Jehovah under God’s Kingdom. May all of us ‘continually remember the faithful work and loving labor’ of those in the full-time service.—1 Thess. 1:3.