“Keep preaching the good news, fully accomplish your ministry.”—2 TIM. 4:5, ftn.
SONG 142 Preaching to All Sorts of People
1. What do all of God’s servants want to do, and why? (See cover picture.)
CHRIST JESUS commanded his followers to “go, . . . and make disciples of people of all the nations.” (Matt. 28:19) All of God’s faithful servants want to learn how they can “fully accomplish” this ministry that they have been given to do. (2 Tim. 4:5) After all, this work is more important, more worthwhile, and more urgent than any other occupation in life. However, it can be a challenge to spend as much time in the ministry as we would like.
2. What challenges do we face in accomplishing our ministry?
2 There are other important activities that demand our time and energy. We may have to work secularly many hours a day to provide the necessities of life for ourselves and our family. We may struggle with other family responsibilities, sickness, depression, or the aches and pains of advancing age. How can we fully accomplish our ministry while coping with such challenging circumstances?
3. What can we conclude from Jesus’ words found at Matthew 13:23?
3 If our circumstances limit the amount of time we can spend in Jehovah’s service, we should not feel discouraged. Jesus knew that not every one of us would be able to produce the same amount of Kingdom fruitage. (Read Matthew 13:23.) Jehovah highly values everything we do in his service as long as we are doing our best. (Heb. 6:10-12) On the other hand, we may feel that our circumstances would allow us to do more. In this article, we will examine how we can make the ministry our priority in life, keep our life simple, and improve in our preaching and teaching skills. First, though, what does it mean to accomplish our ministry fully?
4. What does it mean to accomplish our ministry fully?
4 Simply put, to accomplish our ministry fully, we must have as full a share as possible in the preaching and teaching work. But more is involved than the amount of time. Our motive is important to Jehovah. Because we love Jehovah and our neighbor, we work whole-souled in our Christian ministry. * (Mark 12:30, 31; Col. 3:23) Serving God whole-souled means giving of ourselves, using our strength and energies to the best of our ability in his service. When we appreciate the privilege of doing the preaching work, we try to share the good news with as many people as we can.
5-6. Illustrate how a person with limited time can give priority to the ministry.
5 Imagine a young man who enjoys playing the guitar. He is happy to play music whenever he can. Eventually, he obtains work playing the guitar in a local café on weekends. However, his income does not cover his expenses. So he works as a cashier in a grocery store Monday through Friday. Although he spends most of his time in the grocery store, his heart is in his music. He yearns to improve his skill and to be a full-time musician. Even so, he enjoys every available opportunity to play music, brief though it may be.
6 In a similar way, you may be limited in the amount of time you can devote to the preaching work. Yet, that is what you love to do. You strive to improve your ability to reach people’s hearts with the good news. With many demands on your time, you may wonder how you can make the preaching work your priority.
HOW TO MAKE THE MINISTRY YOUR PRIORITY
7-8. How can we imitate Jesus’ attitude toward the ministry?
7 Jesus set an outstanding example in his attitude toward the ministry. He made talking about God’s Kingdom the main focus of his life. (John 4:34, 35) He walked hundreds of miles to preach to as many as possible. He seized every opportunity to speak to people in public places and in their homes. Jesus’ whole life revolved around the ministry.
8 We can imitate Christ by creating opportunities to talk about the good news whenever and wherever possible. We are willing to sacrifice personal comfort to engage in the evangelizing work. (Mark 6:31-34; 1 Pet. 2:21) Some in the congregation are able to serve as special, regular, or auxiliary pioneers. Others have learned to speak another language or have moved to an area where there is a need for more preachers. However, much of the evangelizing work is done by regular Kingdom publishers, who do the best they can. Whatever the case, Jehovah does not ask more of us than we can give. He wants all of us to enjoy our sacred service as we declare “the glorious good news of the happy God.”—1 Tim. 1:11; Deut. 30:11.
9. (a) How did Paul give priority to the preaching work even when he had to do secular work? (b) What does Acts 28:16, 30, 31 show about Paul’s attitude toward his ministry?
9 The apostle Paul set a good example in making the ministry the most important activity in his life. When he was in Corinth during his second missionary journey, he was low on funds and had to spend some time making tents. However, Paul did not view tentmaking as his primary occupation. He worked at this trade to support himself in the ministry so that he could declare the good news to the Corinthians “without cost” to them. (2 Cor. 11:7) Although Paul had to do some secular work, he continued to give priority to the ministry, and he preached on every Sabbath. After his circumstances improved, Paul was able to give more attention to preaching. He “began to be intensely occupied with the word, witnessing to the Jews to prove that Jesus is the Christ.” (Acts 18:3-5; 2 Cor. 11:9) Later, when he was under house arrest in Rome for two years, Paul witnessed to visitors and wrote letters. (Read Acts 28:16, 30, 31.) Paul was determined not to allow anything to interfere with his ministry. He wrote: “Since we have this ministry . . . , we do not give up.” (2 Cor. 4:1) Like Paul, even if we have to spend time in secular work, we can still make the Kingdom work the most important activity in life.
10-11. How can we fully accomplish our ministry if our health is limiting what we can do?
10 If our door-to-door preaching activity is limited by advancing age or debilitating health problems, we can enjoy other forms of the ministry. First-century evangelizers reached out to people wherever they were. They took advantage of every opportunity to talk about the truth—from house to house, publicly, and informally—wherever people “happened to be on hand.” (Acts 17:17; 20:20) If we are unable to do much walking, we might be able to sit in a public area where we can preach to passersby. Or we might be able to witness informally, write letters, or do telephone witnessing. Many publishers with severe limitations experience much joy and satisfaction in these other avenues of the preaching work.
11 Despite health limitations, you can accomplish your ministry fully. Consider again the example of the apostle Paul. He said: “For all things I have the strength through the one who gives me power.” (Phil. 4:13) Paul needed that power when he got sick on one of his missionary trips. He explained to the Galatians: “It was because of a physical illness that I had my first opportunity to declare the good news to you.” (Gal. 4:13) Similarly, your health limitations may give you opportunities to declare the good news to others, such as to doctors, nurses, and health-care providers. Many of these people are at work when publishers may be calling at their homes.
HOW TO KEEP YOUR LIFE SIMPLE
12. What does it mean to keep your eye “focused”?
12 Jesus said: “The lamp of the body is the eye. If, then, your eye is focused [or “simple,” ftn.], your whole body will be bright.” (Matt. 6:22) What did he mean? He meant that we need to keep our life simple or focused on a single goal, or purpose, not being distracted or sidetracked from it. Jesus himself set the example by focusing his life on the ministry, and he taught his disciples to keep focused on serving Jehovah and on His Kingdom. We imitate Jesus by living a life that centers on the Christian ministry, “seeking first the Kingdom and [God’s] righteousness.”—Matt. 6:33.
13. What can help us to focus on our Christian ministry?
13 One way to focus on our ministry is by simplifying our life so that we can spend more time helping others come to know and love Jehovah. * For example, could we adjust our secular working hours so that we can spend more time in the ministry during the week? Could we reduce some recreational activities that may be very time-consuming?
14. What adjustments did one couple make in order to give more time and attention to the ministry?
14 This is what one elder, Elias, and his wife did. He explains: “We could not pioneer at that time, but we had to start somewhere. So we took relatively small steps toward increasing our time in the ministry. For example, we reduced our expenses, cut back on what we now view as excessive recreational activities, and asked our employers for a more flexible schedule. As a result, we were able to participate in evening witnessing, conduct more Bible studies, and even share in the midweek field service twice a month. What a joy!”
HOW TO IMPROVE YOUR PREACHING AND TEACHING SKILLS
15-16. In line with 1 Timothy 4:13, 15, how can we keep improving our skills as evangelizers? (See also the box “Goals to Help Me Fully Accomplish My Ministry.”)
15 Another way to accomplish our ministry more fully is by improving our skills in the preaching work. People in some professions are required to receive ongoing training and education in order to improve their knowledge and skills. This is also true of Kingdom preachers. We need to continue learning how to be more skillful in our ministry.—Prov. 1:5; read 1 Timothy 4:13, 15.
16 How, though, can we continue to make progress in our ministry? By paying close attention to the instruction we receive at the weekly Life and Ministry Meeting. This meeting provides invaluable training to help us progressively improve our skills in the field service. For instance, when the chairman gives counsel to those who have presented student assignments, we can identify suggestions that can help us improve in our ministry. We can put those suggestions into practice the next time we share the good news with someone. We could ask our field service group overseer for help or work in the ministry with him or with another experienced publisher, a pioneer, or the circuit overseer. As we become more skilled at using each tool in the Teaching Toolbox, we will enjoy our preaching and teaching more.
17. What will you experience when you fully accomplish your ministry?
17 How privileged we are that Jehovah allows us to be his “fellow workers”! (1 Cor. 3:9) When you “make sure of the more important things” and focus on the Christian ministry, you will “serve Jehovah with rejoicing.” (Phil. 1:10; Ps. 100:2) As one of God’s ministers, you can be confident that he will give you the power you need to accomplish your ministry no matter what challenges or limitations you may face. (2 Cor. 4:1, 7; 6:4) Whether your circumstances allow you to have a small or a great share in witnessing, you can “have cause for rejoicing” when you are whole-souled in your ministry. (Gal. 6:4) When you fully accomplish your ministry, you show your love for Jehovah and for your fellow man. “By doing this you will save both yourself and those who listen to you.”—1 Tim. 4:16.
SONG 141 Searching for Friends of Peace
^ par. 5 We have been commissioned to preach the good news of the Kingdom and to make disciples. This article will consider how we can fully accomplish our ministry, even if we have challenging personal circumstances. We will also learn how we can make our preaching work more effective and rewarding.
^ par. 4 EXPRESSION EXPLAINED: Our Christian ministry includes various aspects of preaching and teaching, construction and maintenance of theocratic facilities, and disaster relief work.—2 Cor. 5:18, 19; 8:4.