How Can You Endure in the Ministry?
HAVE you ever felt so drained that you wanted to stop sharing in the preaching work? Strong opposition, anxiety, poor health, peer pressure, or a lack of tangible results might test our endurance. Think, though, of the example of Jesus. He endured the severest of tests “for the joy that was set before him.” (Heb. 12:2) He knew that by proving that accusations made against God were totally unfounded, he was making Jehovah’s heart rejoice.—Prov. 27:11.
By enduring in the ministry, you too can make Jehovah’s heart rejoice. However, what if some obstacles seem to sap you of spiritual energy? Krystyna, who is advanced in years and is in poor health, admits: “It is not unusual for me to feel tired and despondent. My age-related problems, such as poor health and anxieties about daily life, can temporarily dampen my zeal.” How can you persevere in the ministry despite such obstacles?
Imitate the Prophets
To persevere in the preaching work, faithful Kingdom publishers can strive to have a mental attitude like that of the ancient prophets. Take, for example, Jeremiah. When called to serve as a prophet, he was at first reluctant. Yet, Jeremiah was able to endure in his difficult assignment for over 40 years because he learned to put implicit trust in God.—Jer. 1:6; 20:7-11.
Henryk draws encouragement from Jeremiah’s example. He says: “During my more than 70 years in the ministry, I have sometimes been discouraged by the reactions of people—their hostility or their indifference. At such times, I remind myself of the example of Jeremiah. His love for Jehovah and his strong spirituality empowered him to continue prophesying.” (Jer. 1:17) Rafał too has been inspired by Jeremiah’s example. He says: “Rather than focusing on himself and his own feelings, Jeremiah relied on God. He carried on undaunted despite widespread animosity. I try to bear that in mind.”
Another prophet whose example helps many to endure in the ministry is Isaiah. God told him that his fellow countrymen would not listen to him. “Make the heart of this people unreceptive, and make their very ears unresponsive,” said Jehovah. Was Isaiah doomed to failure? Not from God’s point of view! When he was commissioned as a prophet, he said: “Here I am! Send me.” (Isa. 6:8-10) Isaiah stuck to his commission. Is that how you respond to the command to preach?
To persevere in the ministry despite an unresponsive audience, as Isaiah did, we need to avoid focusing on the negative reactions that we experience. Rafał deals with discouragement in this way: “I try to avoid dwelling on unkind remarks. People in my territory have the right to respond any way they want to.” Anna adds: “I do not allow my thoughts to linger on anything unpleasant or discouraging. What enables me to do that is prayer and a consideration of the day’s text before I go out in the field service. Any negative thoughts quickly dissipate.”
The prophet Ezekiel served among the stubborn Jewish exiles in Babylon. (Ezek. 2:6) Had the prophet withheld God’s words from the people and had someone wicked died without hearing the warning, Ezekiel would have been personally accountable. Jehovah told Ezekiel: “His blood I shall ask back from your own hand.”—Ezek. 3:17, 18.
Henryk tries to have an outlook like that of Ezekiel: “I want to be clean from the blood of all men. Precious human lives are at stake.” (Acts 20:26, 27) Zbigniew shares the sentiment: “Ezekiel had to press on regardless of what others thought. This helps me to see the preaching work from the Creator’s point of view.”
You Are Not Alone
You are not alone when you engage in the preaching work. Just like the apostle Paul, we can say: “We are God’s fellow workers.” (1 Cor. 3:9) Krystyna, who admits that she occasionally becomes despondent, says: “That is why I keep begging Jehovah for strength. He never lets me down.” Yes, we need God’s spirit to support us in our ministry!—Zech. 4:6.
When we share in the field service, holy spirit also helps us to display the qualities that constitute “the fruitage of the spirit.” (Gal. 5:22, 23) That, in turn, helps us to persevere in the preaching work, come what may. Henryk observes: “Engaging in the field service helps me to work on my personality. I learn to be patient and considerate and not to give up easily.” Enduring in the ministry despite various obstacles can help you to cultivate the fruitage of the spirit even more abundantly.
In directing this unique work, Jehovah uses his angels. (Rev. 14:6) The Bible reveals that there are “myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands” of such spirit creatures. (Rev. 5:11) Under the direction of Jesus, the angels support God’s servants on the earth. Do you keep that in mind whenever you are in service?
“Meditating on the fact that the angels are with us in the ministry is a source of encouragement to me,” says Anna. “I value the help they provide under the oversight of Jehovah and Jesus.” What a privilege it is to be able to work with the faithful angels!
How about fellow Kingdom publishers? We have been blessed to become acquainted with a large crowd of faithful Witnesses. No doubt you have experienced the truthfulness of the Bible proverb: “By iron, iron itself is sharpened. So one man sharpens the face of another.”—Prov. 27:17.
Working together with others in the ministry provides us with a wonderful opportunity to observe effective methods that may be new to us. Says Elżbieta, “Working with different publishers provides me with opportunities to show love both to my fellow believers and to the people we meet.” Try to share in the ministry with different publishers. It will make your ministry interesting.
Take Good Care of Yourself
To maintain our enthusiasm in the ministry, we must plan well, have a good routine of personal study, and get sufficient rest. In other words, we have to take care of ourselves both spiritually and physically.
The Bible says: “The plans of the diligent one surely make for advantage.” (Prov. 21:5) Zygmunt, now 88 years old, says: “Being systematic in my service helps me to keep it purposeful. I organize my time carefully so as to have enough time for witnessing.”
Thorough knowledge of the Scriptures strengthens and equips us for the ministry. Just as we need to take in physical food to keep on going, we must feed regularly on spiritual food to keep sharing in the preaching work. Feeding on God’s Word daily and taking in “food at the proper time” can energize us for the ministry.—Matt. 24:45-47.
Elżbieta made fundamental changes in her lifestyle so as to improve in her ministry. She says: “I have significantly reduced the amount of time I spend watching television so that I have more time to prepare for the ministry. When I read the Bible each evening, I think about the people I met in the territory. I look for scriptures and articles that might help them.”
Getting proper rest will help you to keep your energy level high and can enable you to have a full share in the ministry. Conversely, an excessive amount of recreation can have a negative impact on the quality of your work. Andrzej, a zealous publisher, notes: “Lack of rest leads to being overtired, and from there it is just a small step to discouragement. I do everything I can to avoid that.”—Eccl. 4:6.
Despite our earnest efforts, relatively few people come to appreciate the good news. Jehovah, however, will never forget our work. (Heb. 6:10) Even if many do not want to talk to us, they may speak about our visit after we have left their door. The effect can be somewhat like what we read concerning Ezekiel: People will “certainly know . . . that a prophet himself happened to be in the midst of them.” (Ezek. 2:5) To be sure, our ministry is not easy, but we derive tangible benefits from it and the people who listen will too.
“Sharing in the ministry helps us to put on the new personality and to show love for God and our neighbors,” notes Zygmunt. “It is a privilege to take part in this lifesaving work. It will never be repeated on this scale or under these same conditions,” adds Andrzej. You too can reap abundant blessings from persevering in the ministry today.—2 Cor. 4:1, 2.
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Caring for our spiritual and physical needs helps us endure in the ministry