“I will give you advice with my eye upon you.”
1, 2. How does Jehovah view his servants on earth?
WHEN parents watch their children play, they are often amazed by the inborn abilities the young ones have. Can you confirm that from your personal experience? One child may appear to have natural agility or athletic ability, while a sibling seems more at ease with board games or some art or craft. But regardless of their children’s gifts, parents find pleasure in discovering their potential.
2 Jehovah too takes a keen interest in his earthly children. He sees his modern-day servants as “the precious things of all the nations.” (Hag. 2:7) They are precious particularly because of their faith and devotion. You may, though, have noticed that among fellow Witnesses today, there are many different talents. Some brothers are gifted at public speaking, whereas others excel at organizing matters. Many sisters have a knack for learning foreign languages and use them in the ministry, while others are outstanding examples of giving support to those who need encouragement or of caring for the sick. (Rom. 16:1, 12) Do we not appreciate being in the congregation with all such Christians?
3. What questions will we consider in this article?
3 However, some fellow believers, including young or newly baptized brothers, may not yet have found their place in the congregation. How can we help them to reach their full potential? Why should we strive to look for the good in them, thus viewing them as Jehovah does?
JEHOVAH SEES THE GOOD IN HIS SERVANTS
4, 5. How does the account at Judges 6:11-16 show that Jehovah sees the potential in his servants?
4 A number of Bible accounts make it clear that Jehovah sees not only the good in his servants but also their potential. For example, when Gideon was chosen to set God’s people free from Midianite oppression, he must have been stunned by the angel’s greeting: “Jehovah is with you, you mighty warrior.” It seems clear that at the time, Gideon felt anything but “mighty.” He acknowledged his doubts and his own sense of insignificance. But as the ensuing conversation revealed, Jehovah certainly had a much more positive view of his servant than Gideon had of himself.
5 Jehovah trusted Gideon to deliver Israel because He had observed his skills. For one thing, Jehovah’s angel had noticed how Gideon threshed wheat with all his might. Something else had caught the angel’s attention. In Bible times, farmers usually beat out grain in an open area to take advantage of the wind, which would blow away the chaff. Surprisingly, Gideon was secretly threshing wheat in a winepress in order to conceal his meager harvest from the Midianites. What a clever strategy! No wonder that in Jehovah’s eyes, Gideon was more than a cautious farmer
6, 7. (a) How did Jehovah’s view of the prophet Amos differ from that of some Israelites? (b) What indicates that Amos was not an uneducated person?
6 Similarly, we see in the case of the prophet Amos that Jehovah noticed the potential of one of his servants, even though he might have appeared to many to be rather insignificant or unassuming. Amos described himself as a raiser of sheep and a nipper of sycamore figs
7 Amos came from a remote village, but his knowledge of the customs and rulers of his time gave evidence that he was not ignorant. He was likely well-informed about conditions in Israel, and he may have been knowledgeable about neighboring nations as a result of his dealings with traveling merchants. (Amos 1:6, 9, 11, 13; 2:8; 6:4-6) Some Bible scholars today credit Amos with good writing skills. Not only did the prophet choose simple and powerful words but he made good use of parallelism and wordplay. Indeed, Amos’ bold response to the corrupt priest Amaziah confirmed that Jehovah had chosen the right person and could use his abilities that might not at first seem obvious.
8. (a) What assurance did Jehovah give David? (b) Why are the words at Psalm 32:8 reassuring to those who may lack self-confidence or skills?
8 Yes, Jehovah notices the potential in each of his servants. He assured King David that he would always guide him, with ‘his eye upon him.’ (Read Psalm 32:8.) Do you see why that should be encouraging to us? Even though we may lack self-confidence, Jehovah can help us to go beyond our perceived limits and reach goals that we would not have imagined. Just as an instructor watches an inexperienced rock climber attentively in order to help him find the best handholds, Jehovah is willing to guide us as we make spiritual advancement. Jehovah might also use fellow believers to help us reach our full potential. How so?
LOOK FOR THE GOOD IN OTHERS
9. How can we apply Paul’s exhortation to “look out” for the interests of others?
9 Paul urged all Christians to “look out” for the interests of fellow believers. (Read Philippians 2:3, 4.) The essence of Paul’s counsel is that we should observe the gifts that others have and acknowledge them. How do we feel when someone shows interest in the progress that we have made? Usually, it stimulates us to make additional progress, bringing out the best in us. Likewise, when we acknowledge the value of our fellow believers, we help them to thrive and grow spiritually.
10. Who in particular may need our attention?
10 Who in particular may need our attention? Of course, all of us need special attention from time to time. Still, young or newly baptized brothers really need to sense that they are involved in the congregation’s activities. This will help them to understand that they do have a place among us. On the other hand, failure to give fitting recognition to such brothers may stifle their desire to reach out for more responsibilities, something that God’s Word encourages them to do.
11. (a) How did an elder help a young man to overcome shyness? (b) What lesson do you see in Julien’s experience?
11 Ludovic, an elder who benefited from such interest when he was younger, says: “When I show genuine interest in a brother, he makes advancement more quickly.” Regarding Julien, a young man who was rather shy, Ludovic says: “Because Julien at times attempted to assert himself in a somewhat clumsy way, his behavior was not natural. But I could see that he was very kind and really wanted to help others in the congregation. Hence, rather than call his motives into question, I focused on his positive traits, trying to encourage him.” In time, Julien qualified to be a ministerial servant, and now he is a regular pioneer.
HELP THEM REACH THEIR FULL POTENTIAL
12. What valuable quality is necessary to help someone reach his full potential? Give an example.
12 Understandably, if we are to help others reach their full potential, we need to be discerning. As illustrated by Julien’s experience, we may have to look beyond a person’s weak spots to discern his fine qualities and skills that could be developed further. This is similar to the way Jesus viewed the apostle Peter. Although Peter at times appeared to be unsteady, Jesus predicted that he would become as stable as a rock.
13, 14. (a) How did Barnabas show discernment in the case of young Mark? (b) How did a young brother benefit from help such as Mark received? (See opening image.)
13 Barnabas showed similar discernment in the case of John, who had the Roman surname Mark. (Acts 12:25) During Paul’s first missionary journey with Barnabas, Mark served as an “attendant,” perhaps caring for their physical needs. However, when they reached Pamphylia, Mark suddenly left his companions in the lurch. They had to travel without him north through an area notorious for bandits. (Acts 13:5, 13) Apparently, though, Barnabas saw past Mark’s inconsistent behavior and later seized the opportunity to complete his training. (Acts 15:37-39) This helped the young man to become a mature servant of Jehovah. Interestingly, Mark was in Rome with Paul, who was then imprisoned, and joined in sending greetings to the Christians in the Colossian congregation, and the apostle spoke favorably of him. (Col. 4:10) Imagine the feeling of satisfaction that Barnabas must have had when Paul even requested Mark’s assistance.
14 Alexandre, a newly appointed elder, recalls how he benefited from a brother’s insightful way: “When I was younger, saying a prayer in public was a real struggle for me. An elder showed me how to prepare myself and be more relaxed. Instead of not calling on me anymore, he gave me opportunities to pray regularly at meetings for field service. In time, I became more confident.”
15. How did Paul express appreciation for his brothers?
15 When we notice a good quality in another Christian, do we express how much we value that fine trait? In Romans chapter 16, Paul gave recognition to more than 20 fellow believers for qualities that made them dear to his heart. (Rom. 16:3-7, 13) For example, Paul acknowledged that Andronicus and Junias had been serving Christ longer than he had, emphasizing their Christian endurance. Paul also spoke warmly of the mother of Rufus, perhaps alluding to her earlier loving care for him.
16. What may be the result of commendation given to a young one?
16 There may be fine results when we give genuine commendation. Consider the case of Rico, a young boy in France, who was discouraged because his father, who did not share his beliefs, was opposed to Rico’s getting baptized. Rico thought that he would have to wait until he was of legal age to serve Jehovah fully. He was also sad that he faced ridicule at school. Frédéric, a congregation elder who was asked to study with the boy, relates: “I commended Rico because such opposition indicated that he had been courageous enough to express his faith.” These words of commendation strengthened Rico in his determination to remain exemplary and helped him to draw closer to his father. Rico got baptized when he was 12 years of age.
17. (a) How can we help our brothers to make advancement? (b) A missionary took what personal interest in young brothers, and with what result?
17 Each time we express appreciation for well-handled assignments or praiseworthy efforts, we give our fellow believers an incentive to serve Jehovah more fully. Sylvie, * who has been serving at Bethel in France for years, commented that sisters can have a share in commending brothers. She noted that women may appreciate different details or efforts that they observe. Thus their “words of encouragement can complement what experienced brothers say.” She added: “To me, giving commendation is a duty.” (Prov. 3:27) Jérôme, a missionary in French Guiana, has helped many young men to qualify for missionary service. He says: “I have noticed that when I compliment young brothers on specific points in their ministry or for giving well-thought-out comments, they grow in confidence. As a result, they develop their abilities further.”
18. Why is working along with younger brothers beneficial?
18 We can also stimulate fellow believers to make spiritual advancement by working along with them. An elder might ask a young brother who is good at using computers to print some information from jw.org that could be encouraging for the elderly ones who do not have computers. Or if you are involved in doing work around the Kingdom Hall, why not invite a young brother to work along with you? Such initiatives will give you the opportunity to observe young ones and offer commendation and see the results.
BUILD FOR THE FUTURE
19, 20. Why should we help others to make progress?
19 When Jehovah appointed Joshua to lead the Israelites, He also commanded Moses to “encourage” and “strengthen” Joshua. (Read Deuteronomy 3:28.) More and more people are joining with us in the worldwide congregation. All experienced Christians
20 Whether we belong to a well-established congregation or to a small group that is progressing toward becoming a congregation, let us build for the future. A key is to imitate Jehovah, who always looks for the good in his servants.
^ par. 17 Name has been changed.