“There is an appointed time for everything.”
1, 2. What have circuit overseers noticed in many congregations?
THE circuit overseer was about to end his meeting with the elders. He looked at the brothers and felt deep love for these hardworking men, some of whom were old enough to be his father. Still, there was an important issue that worried him. He asked them, “Brothers, what have you done to train others to take on more responsibility in the congregation?” The brothers knew that the circuit overseer during his last visit had encouraged them to spend more time training others. Finally, one elder admitted, “We have done very little.” All the other elders agreed.
2 If you are an elder, perhaps you would give a similar answer. Circuit overseers have noticed that many elders need to spend more time training younger and older brothers to help care for the congregation. However, this may be very difficult. Why is that?
3. (a) How does the Bible show that it is important to train others, and why should all of us be interested in this training? (See footnote.) (b) Why may it be difficult for some elders to train others?
3 As an elder, you know that it is important to spend time training brothers. * (See footnote.) You know that more brothers are needed to help keep congregations strong now and to support new congregations in the future. (Read Isaiah 60:22.) The Bible says that you should “teach others.” (Read 2 Timothy 2:2.) Still, it may be difficult to take the time to do so. You must care for the needs of your family and work at your job. You also have to care for the needs of the congregation and for other urgent matters. Since there is so much to do, let us discuss why it is vital for you to take the time to train others.
TRAINING IS URGENT
4. At times, why do elders delay training brothers?
4 Why might it be difficult to spend time training brothers in the congregation? Some may think: ‘Other congregation matters are more urgent and must be cared for immediately. If I do not train others right away, the congregation will not be affected.’ Is that true? Other matters may need your attention immediately. However, if you delay training brothers, you may actually harm the congregation.
5, 6. What can we learn from the example of a driver and how he maintains his car? How can we compare this to training in the congregation?
5 Think of an example. To maintain a car, a driver knows that he needs to change the oil regularly. Still, he may feel that it is more urgent to put fuel in the tank because without it, the car will stop. He may also think that if he is too busy, he can change the oil later. After all, the car will continue to run for some time. But this can be dangerous. If the driver does not change the oil when necessary, sooner or later the car will be damaged. In the end, he will need to spend a lot of time and money to repair the car. What is the lesson?
6 Elders must care for important matters quickly. If they do not, the congregation will suffer. Like the driver who must regularly put fuel in the tank, elders must “make sure of the more important things.” (Philippians 1:10) But some elders may become so busy with important matters that they do not have the time to train others. This would be like neglecting to put oil in a car. If elders delay training brothers, sooner or later the congregation will not have enough trained brothers to care for all that needs to be done.
7. How should we view elders who make time for training?
7 So never think that training is not a priority. Elders who are interested in the future of the congregation and who take the time to train others are wise servants and valuable to their brothers and sisters. (Read 1 Peter 4:10.) How does the congregation benefit?
A GOOD USE OF TIME
8. (a) What reasons do elders have to train others? (b) Elders who serve where the need is great have what urgent responsibility? (See the box “An Urgent Mission.”)
8 Even the most experienced elders must be modest and understand that as they get older, they will not be able to do as much as they do now. (Micah 6:8) Also, elders should know that “time and unexpected events” could suddenly make it difficult for them to care for their responsibilities. (Ecclesiastes 9:11, 12; James 4:13, 14) So because they love and care about Jehovah’s people, elders work hard to teach younger brothers what they have learned over the years.
9. What future event makes training vital?
9 Elders who train others are also valuable because their efforts will help to strengthen the congregation. That training allows more brothers to be ready to help the congregation remain united and faithful to God. This is important now during the last days, and it will be vital during the coming great tribulation. (Ezekiel 38:10-12; Micah 5:5, 6) So, dear elders, regularly take the time to train others starting today.
10. To have the time to train others, what may an elder need to do?
10 We understand that your schedule is already full because you are caring for important congregation matters. Therefore, you may need to take some of the time you spend caring for those responsibilities and use it for training. (Ecclesiastes 3:1) Doing that will be a very good use of your time and will benefit the congregation in the future.
CREATE THE RIGHT CONDITIONS
11. (a) What is interesting about the suggestions on training given by elders from different lands? (b) According to Proverbs 15:22, why is it important to discuss the suggestions of other elders?
11 Recently, some elders who are successful in training brothers to do more in the congregation were asked how they do it. * (See footnote.) All the elders gave similar advice even though they have very different circumstances. What does this prove? That training based on the Bible is useful to learners “everywhere in every congregation.” (1 Corinthians 4:17) So in this article and the next, we will discuss some of the suggestions these elders made. (Proverbs 15:22) Those who give training will be called teachers, and those who receive training will be called learners.
12. What does a teacher need to create, and why?
12 First, a teacher needs to create the right conditions. Why is this important? Just as a gardener needs to prepare the soil before he plants seeds, a teacher needs to prepare a learner’s heart before he can teach him new skills. So how can a teacher create the right conditions for training? He can follow the example of a skillful teacher of the past, the prophet Samuel.
13-15. (a) What did Jehovah tell Samuel to do? (b) How did Samuel prepare Saul for his new assignment? (See opening picture.) (c) Why is this Bible account about Samuel valuable to elders today?
13 One day, more than 3,000 years ago, Jehovah told the elderly prophet Samuel: “Tomorrow about this time, I will send to you a man from the land of Benjamin. You must anoint him as leader over my people Israel.” (1 Samuel 9:15, 16) Samuel understood that he would not lead the nation of Israel anymore and that Jehovah wanted him to anoint a new leader. So to prepare that man for the new assignment, Samuel got an idea and created a plan.
14 The next day Samuel met Saul, and Jehovah told the prophet: “Here is the man.” Right away, Samuel did exactly what he had planned to do. He created a good opportunity so that he could talk to Saul. Samuel invited Saul and his servant to a meal and gave them the best seats and the best pieces of meat. Samuel said: “Eat, because they have reserved it for you for this occasion.” After the meal, Samuel invited Saul to his house. On the way there, the two men enjoyed a pleasant conversation. When they arrived at Samuel’s house, they went up to the roof, and Samuel “continued to speak with Saul on the housetop” until they went to sleep. The next day, Samuel anointed Saul, kissed him, and gave him more instructions. After that, Saul left, ready for what would happen next.
15 Samuel anointed Saul to be the leader of a nation. Of course, this is very different from training a brother to be an elder or a ministerial servant in the congregation. Still, elders can learn many important lessons from the way Samuel prepared Saul’s heart. Let us discuss two of them.
WILLING TEACHERS AND GOOD FRIENDS
16. (a) How did Samuel feel when Israel asked for a king? (b) How did Samuel react when Jehovah told him to anoint Saul?
16 Be willing, do not hesitate. When Samuel first heard that the Israelites wanted a human king, he felt disappointed and rejected. (1 Samuel 8:4-8) Three times Jehovah had to tell him to listen to the people, because Samuel did not want to give them a king. (1 Samuel 8:7, 9, 22) Even though Samuel had these feelings, he did not become jealous or angry with the man who would take his place as leader. When Jehovah told him to anoint Saul, Samuel did not hesitate. He willingly obeyed, not just because he had to, but because he loved Jehovah.
Teachers, take time out of your busy schedule to be with the learner
17. How do elders today imitate Samuel, and what joy does that give them?
17 There are many experienced elders today who have imitated Samuel and trained others in a loving way. (1 Peter 5:2) These kind elders are willing to teach others and are not afraid of sharing some of their privileges in the congregation with the learners. Instead, they feel that these brothers are precious “fellow workers” who will help them care for the needs of the congregation. (2 Corinthians 1:24; Hebrews 13:16) And these unselfish elders enjoy seeing the learners use their abilities to help Jehovah’s people.
18, 19. How can an elder prepare the heart of a learner for training, and why is that important?
18 Be a friend, not just a teacher. When Samuel met Saul, the prophet could have immediately anointed him as king by taking the oil and pouring it on his head. The new king would then be anointed, but he would be unprepared to lead God’s people. Instead, Samuel took the time to prepare Saul’s heart for his new assignment. Before he anointed Saul, they ate together, went for a pleasant walk, talked for a long time, and even got some rest. Samuel waited for the right time to anoint the new king.
19 The same is true today. Before an elder begins to train a brother, he should make an effort to become friends with the learner. What an elder does to make a learner feel comfortable will be different depending on their circumstances and culture. Still, no matter where you live, if you take time out of your busy schedule to be with the learner, he will know that he is important to you. (Read Romans 12:10.) Surely, learners will be deeply grateful for the loving care and attention that you give them.
20, 21. (a) How would you describe a successful teacher? (b) What will we discuss in the next article?
20 It is true that a successful teacher loves to train others. But a successful teacher must also love the person he is training. (Compare John 5:20.) Why is this important? Because if a learner feels that you truly care about him, he will be willing to learn from you. So elders, make an effort not only to teach but also to be a good friend.
21 After preparing a learner’s heart, an elder can begin to train him. What methods could the elder use? That will be discussed in the next article.
^ par. 3 This article and the next are written especially for elders. But everyone should be interested in this information. Why? It will help all brothers to understand that they need training to do more in the congregation. When there are more trained brothers to help in the congregation, everyone will benefit.
^ par. 11 These elders live in Australia, Bangladesh, Belgium, Brazil, France, French Guiana, Japan, Korea, Mexico, Namibia, Nigeria, Réunion, Russia, South Africa, and the United States.