“Continue applying yourself to public reading, to exhortation, to teaching.”—1 TIM. 4:13.
SONGS: 45, 42
1, 2. (a) How has Isaiah 60:22 come true in this time of the end? (b) What needs now exist in the earthly part of Jehovah’s organization?
“THE little one will become a thousand and the small one a mighty nation.” (Read Isaiah 60:22) Those prophetic words are undergoing fulfillment in these last days. Why, during the 2015 service year, 8,220,105 Kingdom publishers have been active in the world field! The last part of that prophecy should affect all Christians personally, for our heavenly Father says: “I myself, Jehovah, will speed it up in its own time.” Like passengers in a vehicle gaining speed, we sense the increased momentum in the disciple-making work. How are we personally reacting to that acceleration? Are we doing all we can as zealous Kingdom publishers? Many brothers and sisters are applying to serve as regular or auxiliary pioneers. And do we not rejoice to see so many answer the call to serve where the need is greater or participate in other areas of theocratic activity?
2 At the same time, we see increased demands for more workers. Some 2,000 congregations are formed each year. If 5 elders were to serve in each new congregation, 10,000 ministerial servants would need to qualify as overseers each year. This means that it would be necessary for thousands of brothers to meet the qualifications needed in order to serve as ministerial servants. In addition to this, whether we are brothers or sisters, we certainly have “plenty to do in the work of the Lord.”—1 Cor. 15:58.
WHAT IT MEANS TO MAKE SPIRITUAL PROGRESS
3, 4. What does making spiritual progress mean to you?
3 Read 1 Timothy 3:1. The Greek verb translated “reaching out” means stretching to grasp something, perhaps something beyond your normal reach. In using that word, the apostle Paul stressed that spiritual progress requires effort. Imagine a brother thinking about his future in the congregation. He may not now be serving as a ministerial servant, but he realizes that he needs to cultivate spiritual qualities. First, he strives to qualify as a ministerial servant. In time, he hopes to be spiritually qualified to serve as an overseer. In each case, he works hard to meet the qualifications needed to care for added responsibility in the congregation.
4 In like manner, brothers and sisters who desire to serve as pioneers, as Bethelites, or as Kingdom Hall construction volunteers do well to stretch forward to attain their goals. Let us consider how God’s Word encourages all to make progress in true worship.
STRIVE TO MAKE GREATER SPIRITUAL PROGRESS
5. How can young people use their strength in Kingdom service?
5 Young people have the strength needed to accomplish much in Jehovah’s service. (Prov. 20:29.) Some young brothers in Bethel service have a part in printing and binding Bibles and Bible literature. Many young brothers and sisters share in the work of building and maintaining Kingdom Halls. When natural disasters strike, young people join more experienced Witnesses in carrying through with relief efforts. And many young pioneers help to take the good news to indigenous and foreign-language communities.
6-8. (a) How did one young man change his view of God’s service, and with what result? (b) How can we “taste and see that Jehovah is good”?
6 Very likely, you appreciate the importance of wholehearted service to God. But what if you feel the way a brother named Aaron once did? Although he grew up in a Christian family, he admitted, “I found the meetings and field service boring.” He wanted to serve God with joy but wondered why he was not happy. What did he do?
7 Aaron pursued a spiritual routine that included Bible reading, preparing for meetings, and commenting at them. He especially started praying regularly. As his love for Jehovah increased, he began to make fine spiritual progress. Since then, Aaron has enjoyed pioneering, working with others in connection with disaster relief, and preaching in a foreign land. Aaron now serves at Bethel and is an elder. How does he view the course he has taken? “I have ‘tasted and seen that Jehovah is good.’ Because of his blessing, I feel indebted to him and am moved to do more in his service, and this results in more blessings.”
8 The psalmist sang: “Those seeking Jehovah will lack nothing good.” (Read Psalm 34:8-10.) Indeed, Jehovah never disappoints those who zealously serve him. We personally “taste and see that Jehovah is good” as we do all we can in his service. And when we give God whole-souled worship, we experience happiness that has no equal.
PERSEVERE AND DO NOT GROW WEARY
9, 10. Why is it important for you to have “a waiting attitude”?
9 As you work toward your goals, show “a waiting attitude.” (Mic. 7:7) Jehovah always supports his faithful servants, even though he may allow them to wait for privileges or a favorable change of circumstances. He promised Abraham a son, but the patriarch had to exercise faith and patience. (Heb. 6:12-15) Although he waited years for Isaac’s birth, Abraham did not lose heart, and Jehovah did not disappoint him.—Gen. 15:3, 4; 21:5.
10 Waiting is not easy. (Prov. 13:12) If we were to brood over disappointments, we could become very discouraged. Instead, it is wise to use our time to improve our spiritual qualifications. Note three ways to do so.
11. What spiritual qualities can we work to develop, and why are they important?
11 Develop spiritual qualities. By reading God’s Word and meditating on it, we can develop wisdom, insight, good judgment, knowledge, thinking ability, and soundness of mind. Such qualities are vital for those taking the lead in true worship. (Prov. 1:1-4; Titus 1:7-9) And as we read our Bible-based publications, we can discern God’s thinking on many matters. Daily, we face issues involving entertainment, dress and grooming, managing money, and getting along with others. By applying what we learn from the Bible, we can make decisions that please Jehovah.
12. How can members of the congregation prove themselves trustworthy?
12 Prove yourself trustworthy. Whether we are brothers or sisters, we need to do our best to care for any theocratic assignment we receive. As governor, Nehemiah had to fill positions of responsibility among God’s people. Whom did he appoint? He used those who were God-fearing, trustworthy, and reliable. (Neh. 7:2; 13:12, 13) Today as well, “what is expected of stewards is that they be found faithful.” (1 Cor. 4:2) Fine works do not go unnoticed.—Read 1 Timothy 5:25.
13. How can you follow Joseph’s example if others treat you unfairly?
13 Let Jehovah refine you. What can you do if others treat you unfairly? Perhaps you can straighten out the matter quickly. At times, though, by vigorously defending yourself, you make a problem worse. Joseph’s brothers mistreated him, but he did not harbor resentment. Later, Joseph was falsely accused and unjustly imprisoned. However, he let Jehovah guide him through difficult times. The result? “The saying of Jehovah is what refined him.” (Ps. 105:19) When those tests ended, Joseph qualified for a special assignment. (Gen. 41:37-44; 45:4-8) As you deal with thorny problems, pray for wisdom, act and speak with mildness, and look to God for strength. Jehovah will help you.—1 Pet. 5:10.
MAKE PROGRESS IN THE FIELD MINISTRY
14, 15. (a) Why do we have to “pay constant attention” to the way we preach? (b) How might you adjust to changing conditions? (See opening picture and the box “Are You Willing to Try a Different Method?”)
14 Paul urged Timothy: “Continue applying yourself to public reading, to exhortation, to teaching. Pay constant attention to yourself and to your teaching.” (1 Tim. 4:13, 16) Timothy was already an experienced Kingdom proclaimer. Yet, his ministry would be effective only if he would “pay constant attention” to his teaching. He could not take for granted that people would respond to his usual approach. To continue reaching their hearts, he had to adapt his teaching methods to their needs. As Kingdom proclaimers, we need to do the same.
15 We often find that people are not at home when we preach from door to door. In some areas, we cannot enter certain apartment buildings and gated communities. If that is true in your territory, why not consider different ways to preach the good news?
16. How can public witnessing prove to be effective?
16 Public witnessing is one excellent method of spreading the good news. Many Witnesses are having a very effective and rewarding share in such work. They set aside time to approach people at train and bus stations, in marketplaces and parks, and in other public areas. Using good judgment, a Witness may start a conversation with someone by commenting on the news, complimenting the person’s children, or asking a question about his work. As the conversation moves along, the publisher brings up a Scriptural point and elicits a response. The person’s comments often lead to a further discussion of the Bible.
17, 18. (a) How might you become more confident in public witnessing? (b) Why do you find David’s spirit in praising Jehovah valuable as you engage in the ministry?
17 If you find public witnessing challenging, do not give up. Eddie, a pioneer in New York City, was hesitant about conversing with people in public. In time, however, he gained confidence. What helped him? He says: “During our family worship, my wife and I do research to find answers to objections and opinions people express. We also ask other Witnesses for suggestions.” Now Eddie looks forward to public witnessing.
18 As you gain skill and confidence in preaching the good news, your spiritual advancement will be evident. (1 Tim. 4:15.) Moreover, you will undoubtedly laud our heavenly Father as did David, who sang: “I will praise Jehovah at all times; his praise will be on my lips constantly. I will boast in Jehovah; the meek will hear and rejoice.” (Ps. 34:1, 2) And it may well be that as a result of your ministry, meek ones will joyfully join you in true worship.
GLORIFY GOD BY MAKING SPIRITUAL PROGRESS
19. Why should a loyal servant of Jehovah be happy even if he or she lives in restrictive circumstances?
19 David also sang: “All your works will glorify you, O Jehovah, and your loyal ones will praise you. They will proclaim the glory of your kingship and speak about your mightiness, to make known to men your mighty acts and the glorious splendor of your kingship.” (Read Psalm 145:10-12) Those words surely express the sentiments of all loyal Witnesses of Jehovah. But what if illness or advanced age somewhat limits your ministry? Always remember that as you share the good news with caregivers and others, your sacred service glorifies our wonderful God. If you are imprisoned because of your faith, you likely speak about the truth as circumstances permit, and that makes Jehovah’s heart rejoice. (Prov. 27:11) The same is true if you are in a religiously divided household but stick to your spiritual routine. (1 Pet. 3:1-4) Even under adverse circumstances, you can praise Jehovah and make spiritual progress.
20, 21. If you are entrusted with more work in Jehovah’s organization, how can you become a blessing to others?
20 Jehovah will certainly bless you if you continue to make spiritual progress. Perhaps by making a few changes in your schedule or lifestyle, you can have a greater role in sharing God’s precious truth with those who are in need of hope. Moreover, your spiritual progress and course of self-sacrifice can result in priceless benefits to your fellow believers. And because of your humble efforts in the congregation, you will be rewarded by receiving the affection, appreciation, and support of others who love Jehovah.
21 Whether we have enjoyed many years or just a few months in Jehovah’s service, all of us can make progress in his worship. But how can mature Christians help newer ones to make spiritual advancement? We will discuss that subject in our next study.