“The things you heard from me . . . , entrust to faithful men.”
1. (a) What have God’s servants always known about training, and how does this apply today? (b) What will we discuss in this article?
GOD’S people have always known that training brings success. For example, Abram organized “his trained men,” who successfully fought to rescue Lot. (Genesis 14:14-16) Singers in King David’s day “were trained” to sing songs that praised Jehovah. (1 Chronicles 25:7) Today, we must fight against Satan and his world. (Ephesians 6:11-13) We also work hard to praise Jehovah by speaking to others about his name. (Hebrews 13:15, 16) Like God’s servants in the past, to be successful, we must be trained. In the congregation, Jehovah has given elders the responsibility to train others. (2 Timothy 2:2) What methods have some elders used to train brothers to care for Jehovah’s people?
STRENGTHEN THE LEARNER’S LOVE FOR JEHOVAH
2. Before teaching a learner new skills, what may an elder want to do, and why?
2 An elder can be compared to a gardener. Before planting seeds, a gardener may need to add nutrients to the soil so that the plants will grow and become strong. In a similar way, before an elder teaches a learner new skills, he may want to share some Bible principles that will help the learner to be ready to apply what he learns.
3. (a) How might Jesus’ words found at Mark 12:29, 30 be used in a conversation with a learner? (b) How may an elder’s prayer affect a learner?
3 It is important to understand how the truth affects the learner’s thoughts and feelings. To do that, you may ask him how his dedication to Jehovah has affected his decisions in life. That question could lead to a conversation about how we can serve Jehovah with our whole heart. (Read Mark 12:29, 30.) You may even want to pray with the brother and ask Jehovah to give him the holy spirit he needs for his training. When the brother hears you pray for him, it will likely encourage him to do more!
4. (a) Give examples of Bible accounts that can help a learner to make progress. (b) What goal should elders have when training others?
4 When you first start training, it is good to discuss Bible accounts that help the learner to see the importance of being helpful, reliable, and humble. (1 Kings 19:19-21; Nehemiah 7:2; 13:13; Acts 18:24-26) These qualities are as important to the learner as nutrients are to soil. They will help the learner to grow, that is, to make progress faster. Jean-Claude, an elder from France, says that his goal when training is to help a learner to make wise decisions based on Bible principles. He says: “I look for occasions when we can read a scripture together to ‘open the eyes’ of the learner to ‘the wonderful things’ found in God’s Word.” (Psalm 119:18) What are some other ways to strengthen a learner?
SUGGEST GOALS AND GIVE REASONS
5. (a) How important is it to speak with a learner about goals in Jehovah’s service? (b) Why should elders train those who are still young? (See footnote.)
5 Ask a learner what his goals are in Jehovah’s service. If he does not have any goals, help him to set one that he can reach. Be enthusiastic while telling him about a goal that you had and how good you felt when you reached it. This method is simple but effective. Victor, an elder and pioneer in Africa, says: “When I was young, an elder asked me a few questions about my goals. Those questions helped me to start thinking seriously about my ministry.” Experienced elders say that it is important to train brothers while they are still young, perhaps when they are in their early teens. You can give them some work in the congregation according to their age. If brothers are trained while they are still young, it can help them to stay focused on their goals even as they get older and have many distractions.
6. What important method did Jesus use to train others?
6 To motivate the learner to serve, you must do more than tell him what to do. You must also explain why it is important to do it. The Great Teacher, Jesus, told his apostles to preach. But first he gave them a reason why they should obey. He said: “All authority has been given me in heaven and on the earth. Go, therefore, and make disciples of people of all the nations.” (Matthew 28:18, 19) How can you imitate Jesus’ method of training?
7, 8. (a) How can elders today imitate Jesus’ way of training? (b) How important is it to commend a learner? (c) What suggestions can help elders to train others? (See the box “How to Train Others.”)
7 When you ask a brother to do some work, explain to him from the Bible why this work is important. By doing that, you teach him to do things because of Bible principles and not just because of rules. For example, if you ask a brother to keep the entrance of the Kingdom Hall clean and safe for walking, you might show him Titus 2:10. Explain how his work will make the Kingdom message more attractive. Also, ask the learner to think about the older ones in the congregation and how doing this work will help them. A conversation such as this provides training that will help him to think more about people rather than rules. When he sees how the brothers and sisters benefit from his work, he will feel good because he is serving others.
8 Also, be sure to commend the learner for applying your suggestions. How important is it to do that? Just as water helps a plant to grow and to be healthy, commending a learner helps him to make progress in his service to Jehovah.
9. (a) Why may it be difficult for elders in some wealthy lands to train others? (b) Why is service to God not a priority in the life of some younger brothers?
9 Elders in wealthy lands may find it difficult to encourage baptized brothers in their 20’s or 30’s to do more in the congregation. Experienced elders in about 20 lands told us why they believe that some young brothers do not do more in the congregation. Most of them said that when some brothers were young, their parents did not encourage them to set goals in Jehovah’s service. And when some young brothers wanted to do more, their parents encouraged them to set goals involving higher education or a career in the world! So service to God never came first in their lives.
10, 11. (a) How may an elder slowly help a brother to change the way he thinks? (b) What scriptures could an elder use to motivate a brother, and why? (See footnote.)
10 If a brother does not seem interested in doing more in the congregation, it will take a lot of work and patience to change his way of thinking, but it can be done. A gardener can help a plant to grow straight by slowly guiding the stem. In a similar way, you can slowly help a brother to see that he needs to change his attitude about accepting more responsibilities in the congregation. But how?
11 Take time to become friends with the brother. Let him know that the congregation needs him. Then, as time passes, sit down and reason with him on scriptures that can help him think about his dedication to Jehovah. (Ecclesiastes 5:4; Isaiah 6:8; Matthew 6:24, 33; Luke 9:57-62; 1 Corinthians 15:58; 2 Corinthians 5:15; 13:5) Try to touch his heart by asking questions such as: ‘What did you promise Jehovah when you dedicated your life to him? How do you think Jehovah felt when you got baptized?’ (Proverbs 27:11) ‘How did Satan feel?’ (1 Peter 5:8) Such scriptures can be very powerful and can deeply affect a brother’s heart.
LEARNERS, PROVE FAITHFUL
12, 13. (a) What attitude did Elisha show as a learner? (b) How did Jehovah reward Elisha for being faithful?
12 Young brothers, the congregation needs your help! What attitude will help you to have success in your service to Jehovah? To find the answer, let us discuss some events in the life of a learner in the past, Elisha.
13 About 3,000 years ago, the prophet Elijah invited young Elisha to become his helper. Elisha immediately agreed and faithfully did humble work for the prophet. (2 Kings 3:11) Elijah trained Elisha for about six years. Then, when Elijah’s work in Israel was about to end, the prophet told his helper that he could stop serving him. But three times Elisha said: “I will not leave you.” He was determined to stay with his teacher as long as he could. And Jehovah rewarded Elisha’s loyalty and faithfulness by allowing him to see Elijah’s being taken away in a windstorm.
14. (a) How can learners today imitate Elisha? (b) Why is it so important for a learner to be faithful?
14 As a learner, how can you imitate Elisha? Be quick to accept assignments, even humble tasks. Remember that your teacher is your friend. Tell him that you appreciate what he is doing for you, and show him that you want to continue learning from him. Most important, be faithful in caring for your assignment. Why? When you prove that you are faithful and reliable, the elders can be confident that Jehovah wants you to have more responsibilities in the congregation.
RESPECT EXPERIENCED ELDERS
15, 16. (a) In what ways did Elisha show respect for his teacher? (See opening picture.) (b) Why were other prophets confident in Elisha?
15 The account of Elisha also shows that it is important for brothers today to show respect for experienced elders. After Elijah and Elisha had visited a group of prophets in Jericho, the two men came to the Jordan River. Then “Elijah took his official garment and rolled it up and struck the waters, and they were divided.” The men crossed the Jordan on dry ground, and they kept “speaking as they walked.” Elisha listened very carefully to everything his teacher said and kept learning from him. Elisha never felt that he knew it all. Then Elijah was taken away in a windstorm, and Elisha went back to the Jordan River. There, he hit the waters with Elijah’s official garment and said: “Where is Jehovah, the God of Elijah?” Again, the water in the river was divided.
16 Did you notice that Elisha’s first miracle was exactly the same as Elijah’s last miracle? What does this teach us? Elisha did not feel that because he was now in charge, he needed to do things differently from the way Elijah had done them. Instead, by copying Elijah’s methods, Elisha showed that he respected his teacher, which helped other prophets to have confidence in Elisha. (2 Kings 2:15) Elisha served as a prophet for 60 years, and Jehovah gave him the power to perform many more miracles than Elijah had. What is the lesson for learners today?
17. (a) How can learners today imitate Elisha’s attitude? (b) In time, how may Jehovah use faithful learners?
17 When you receive more responsibility in the congregation, do not feel that you need to do things in a way that is completely different from the way they were done before. Remember, the reason to make changes is because of a need in the congregation or because of direction from Jehovah’s organization. You should not make changes just because you want to. By continuing to use Elijah’s methods, Elisha helped other prophets to have confidence in him and he showed respect for his teacher. In a similar way, if you continue to use the Bible-based methods of your teachers, you show respect for experienced elders, and your brothers and sisters will have confidence in you. (Read 1 Corinthians 4:17.) As you gain more experience, you will apply changes that can help the congregation to follow Jehovah’s organization, which is always moving ahead. And Jehovah may in time help you to do greater works than those of your teachers, just as he helped Elisha to do.
18. Why is it urgent to train brothers in the congregations?
18 We hope that the suggestions in this article and the previous one will motivate more elders to take the time to train brothers. And we pray that more brothers are willing to be trained and to use what they learn in order to care for Jehovah’s people. This will strengthen the congregations all over the world and will help each one of us to remain faithful during the thrilling times ahead.
^ par. 5 If a young brother shows that he is mature and humble and has the other qualities necessary to serve in the congregation, the elders might suggest that he be appointed as a ministerial servant even if he is not yet 20 years old.
^ par. 11 You might discuss the points found in The Watchtower, April 15, 2012, pages 14-16, paragraphs 8-13; and “Keep Yourselves in God’s Love,” chapter 16, paragraphs 1-3.