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  • Why Is Your Ministry Successful?
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    “In that case you will prove successful if you take care to carry out the regulations and the judicial decisions that Jehovah commanded.”— 1 Chron. 22:13 .

    1. How is success measured today, in contrast to the Bible’s description of most Christian believers?

    SUCCESS is measured today in terms of how much education, money, popularity or skill a person has acquired during his lifetime. How happy we can be that God does not require any of these things in abundance in order for us to be successful in the Christian ministry! While the apostle Paul was a learned man, trained at the feet of the eminent teacher Gamaliel, he nevertheless recognized the humble position of most Christian believers. “You behold his calling of you, brothers, that not many wise in a fleshly way were called, not many powerful, not many of noble birth; but God chose the foolish things of the world, that he might put the wise men to shame; and God chose the weak things of the world, that he might put the strong things to shame; and God chose the ignoble things of the world and the things looked down upon, the things that are not, that he might bring to nothing the things that are, in order that no flesh might boast in the sight of God.” (1 Cor. 1:26-29 ) In measuring success in our ministry, therefore, it is vital that we look at matters from God’s standpoint.

    2. Why does limited education not disqualify one for the ministry?

    2 Basic education is useful in the ministry, but one should not be discouraged or feel disqualified for the ministry if his secular education has been limited. It is not how much you know that counts with God, but how much you love the truth that has been planted in your heart so that you nurture it and make it grow. It is just as true today as in Paul’s day: “The world through its wisdom did not get to know God.” (1 Cor. 1:21 ) Remember that many of Jesus’ disciples, including the prominent apostles Peter and John, “were men unlettered and ordinary.” (Acts 4:13 ) When the humble followers of Jesus returned to him after being instructed and sent out, we are told of his response on hearing of their good results in the ministry: “In that very hour he became overjoyed in the holy spirit and said: ‘I publicly praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have carefully hidden these things from wise and intellectual ones, and have revealed them to babes. Yes, O Father, because to do thus came to be the way approved by you’”!— Luke 10:21 .

    3. Show why wealth and popularity are not proper standards for judging success in the ministry?

    3 As far as wealth and popularity are concerned, right away we must disqualify them as standards for judging success in the Christian ministry. Material possessions and personal prestige carry no weight with God. The clergy of Christendom seek both and, in doing so, imitate the religious leaders in Jesus’ day. “Now the Pharisees, who were money lovers, were listening to all these things, and they began to sneer at him.” Jesus said: “All the works they do they do to be viewed by men . . . They like the most prominent place at evening meals and the front seats in the synagogues, and the greetings in the market places and to be called Rabbi by men.” Jesus instructed his disciples to be content with the necessities of life, to be humble, to avoid giving titles to men and to be servants of one another. Their motive was to ‘store up treasures in heaven’ and to gain the favor of God, not of men. The poor and the unpopular were welcomed by Jesus.—

    Luke 16:14; 15:1-7; Matt. 23:5-12; 6:19, 20, 31-34 .

    4. What part does skill play in a successful ministry?

    4 Now, as to skill, this is something that the world makes much of, and, indeed, many extraordinary feats are accomplished with skilled minds and hands. Success in the ministry requires skill too, but the art of being a good teacher of God’s Word is not too difficult for anyone to master. While it takes many years of study and practice to become a skilled surgeon or engineer, and those who qualify are few, this is not true of those who wish to be skillful ministers. Not that it does not take much study and putting into regular practice the things learned. It does, but the unique thing about the ministry is that one can begin to share in it after only a short time of study. When one begins to learn the good things from God’s Word and sees the importance of teaching these to others, there is no reason for him to hold back in speaking these good things to his neighbor. He, of course, should be careful as a novice that he does not teach error unwittingly, so he should listen closely to instructions from more experienced ministers while getting on-the-job training. Before long he can make a dedication to God and get baptized and become a skillful ordained minister in teaching others.

    5. (a) How shall we arrive at the right standards for judging success in the ministry? (b) What factors, besides the making of disciples, made the ministry of Jesus a complete success?

    5 If education, wealth, popularity and even skill are not the most important factors in measuring success in the ministry, then by what standards shall we determine if our ministry is successful? Perhaps it is the number of converts made, or is there something more? By examining the ministry of Christ Jesus and the instructions that he gave for carrying on the ministry after his ascension to heaven, we will get the answer. As to the making of converts, it is interesting to observe that there was a time when Jesus’ ministry gave all the outward appearances of having failed. When he was arrested, all of his disciples abandoned him, although this had been foretold by him. (John 16:32 ) However, when the holy spirit was poured out at Pentecost 33 C.E., there were 120 faithful disciples awaiting instructions in an upper room in Jerusalem. That very same day the apostle Peter spoke to a great crowd of Jews, and from among them 3,000 more put faith in Christ Jesus and were begotten by holy spirit. From that day forward many were added to the Christian congregation. Jesus manifestly had been very successful in gathering together the first members of the Christian congregation. It must be remembered, however, that only a limited number of the Jews accepted him as the Messiah. There was no mass conversion. The success of Jesus’ ministry was measured by more than the number of disciples added. Indeed, this was secondary. He put the emphasis on glorifying his heavenly Father. Moreover, by his faithful course in everything, including all the tests and opposition brought by the Devil, Jesus proved his unbreakable devotion to his heavenly Father and branded the great Adversary a liar. By the standards set by

    Jehovah, the ministry of Jesus was a complete success.

    TODAY’S STANDARDS FOR MEASURING SUCCESS

    6. Have the commission and objectives of our ministry changed in this modern twentieth century?

    6 Now that we are far removed from the first century C.E. of the early Christian congregation, one might think the standards of measuring success in the ministry have changed. Actually they are the same. This is true because our commission and our objectives in the ministry remain the same. No new instructions have been issued for giving the final witness other than those contained in God’s Word. By checking his Word closely we will be able to measure the success of our ministry. Moreover, where we find that success is limited in our own witness-making, we will be able to copy more closely the example of the Master Teacher, Christ Jesus, and the early disciples whom he taught.

    7. (a) What is the first of the four reasons for faithful preaching in this “time of the end”? (b) What is the second?

    7 As in Jesus’ day, there are today basically four reasons why we continue to preach in this “time of the end,” and each ought to be considered in determining the success of our ministry. As we consider each one, we invite you to see how your own ministry measures up. While Jehovah is the Judge, we are sure you will find cause for encouragement where faithful performance is found; and if you find places where your ministry needs strengthening, you will be able to give these due attention. (1) Just as Jesus preached a message of salvation, so Jehovah’s witnesses feel keenly their obligation to “make disciples of people of all the nations,” as commanded by Christ Jesus. ( Matt. 28:19, 20 ) Right-hearted ones must hear the message preached if they are to learn of the narrow way to life and turn off the broad road leading to destruction. (2) In contrast, we are also preaching a message of warning in the midst of all the inhabitants of the earth regarding the coming day of God’s executional judgment against wrongdoers.— Matt. 7:13, 14; Ezek. 3:17-19; Rev. 14:6, 7 .

    8. How can we be encouraged in examining our ministry in relationship to the first two reasons for preaching God’s message to the people?

    8 Hence, we are commissioned to preach not only “ good news to the meek ones” and “the year of good will on the part of Jehovah” but also the “day of vengeance on the part of our God.” (Isa. 61:1, 2; Luke 4:16-21 ) Like God’s faithful servant Ezekiel, we must today continue to preach to persons “whether they will hear or will refrain,” and this must be done in the face of opposition. (Ezek. 2:5-7; 3:4, 7-9 ) Boldly and yet with tactfulness and genuine love we will declare the judgment message, knowing in advance that the vast majority will not listen, and yet some who initially oppose may open their eyes. Are you faithfully using all your opportunities to preach the good news and conscientiously to teach those who respond to the message? If so, there is cause for encouragement, and you are assured by Jehovah that he will grant

    success and strengthen you to continue without letup. It has been the privilege of Jehovah’s modern-day witnesses to help thousands of sheeplike ones to the side of salvation, the right side of the King-Shepherd, Christ Jesus, while causing goatlike opposers to manifest that they deserve to be placed on his left side for destruction.— Matt. 25:31-46 .

    9. What third reason for faithful preaching is given, and why is this important in determining success?

    9 A third and most important reason why we must continue to preach is (3) that this gives opportunity for Jehovah’s servants on earth to demonstrate their love and their integrity to Jehovah. It is

    one thing to say that we love God and our neighbor, but it is another thing to prove it. Moreover, it is in the process of proving what we think we are at heart that we find places for improvement and perfecting our love and integrity. We learn dependence upon God. (2 Cor. 12:9 ) We see the need to be tactful, patient, merciful. Going out regularly in the preaching work might in some respects be a trial to some, but we must remember that trials can result in endurance and help us in perfecting holiness: “Let us exult while in tribulations, since we know that tribulation produces endurance; endurance, in turn, an approved condition; the approved condition, in turn, hope, and the hope does not lead to disappointment; because the love of God has been poured out into our hearts through the holy spirit, which was given us.” (Rom. 5:3-5 ) Those who are veterans in the house-to-house work will tell you without any hesitation that there is no substitute for the ministry to sharpen our appreciation, to perfect our obedience, to nurture our love for God and our neighbor, to dispel the fear of man, to show what we truly are at heart.— 2 Tim. 4:2-5 .

    10. What satisfaction comes in being faithful in our assignments?

    10 How satisfying it is to know that we have done what we have been assigned to do! Jesus in prayer to his Father said: “I have glorified you on the earth, having finished the work you have given me to do.” (John 17:4 ) How thrilled at heart the man in linen must have been in reporting, “I have done just as you have commanded me,” following the marking of all who were in line for salvation. (Ezek. 9:1-4, 11 ) Have you obediently and courageously made opportunities to share in the ministry despite family opposition, a tendency toward shyness, failing health or any other interference or distraction that might present itself? Have you allowed the various situations encountered in the ministry to increase your love for Jehovah and your fellowman, even your enemies? Are you better able to face difficulties and trials as a result? If so, in this respect too, you can say that, as far as personal effects are concerned, your ministry is a success.

    11. What is the fourth and most important reason for faithful preaching?

    11 And, finally, as we consider the reasons why we continue to preach, we have the fourth and most important of all reasons and that is (4) to make known the name and purposes of Jehovah. Jesus made known Jehovah’s name to his disciples and taught them to pray, “Let your name be sanctified.” (Matt. 6:9; John 17:26 ) At least sixty times in Ezekiel’s prophecy alone, we note the words of God that persons on earth will “have to know that I am Jehovah.” In the modern fulfillment of Exodus 9:16 , it is Jehovah’s purpose that his name be “declared in all the earth.” His name involves his reputation, and others must have the opportunity to learn about the Creator, that he is loving and merciful, and yet those who choose to ignore him and spurn his love will be denied the right to live in his new system of things.

    12. Why is it vital that we work for the vindication of Jehovah’s name, and what encouragement comes to those who do?

    12 Without their understanding the great issue involving the adversary, Satan the Devil, many have blamed God for wickedness. Without cause his name has been reproached, he has been lied against and misrepresented. Millions of false gods have received the honor and respect due Him, some persons even in this modern day worshiping the Devil himself. Who is the true God? Indeed, does God live at all? In fulfilling our role as Jehovah’s witnesses, may it never happen that any one of us refuses to speak up in behalf of Jehovah our God in the court arena of the world to let all men know that he is the true God and that he not only lives but also will see to it that his purposes are carried out! Have you not only prayed for Jehovah’s name to be sanctified but also acted in harmony with your prayer by speaking of Jehovah’s greatness and all his wonderful works? If so, then in this respect, too, your ministry is successful as being the right kind of ministry in the sight of God and is a sweet, acceptable sacrifice of praise to Him.— Isa. 43:10; Heb. 13:15 .

    FINDING SUCCESS DESPITE OBSTACLE

    13. (a) What should be our attitude even though most do not listen to the message? (b) How is our ministry nevertheless not in vain?

    13 Nevertheless, we must recognize that there are a number of factors that can bring discouragement to us individually and make us feel that our ministry is not successful. When we learn the truths of God’s Word, we are eager to share them with our relatives and friends, and then go into the community from house to house. But many we find do not share our enthusiasm and love for these new-found truths. Indeed, in some territories we may go to quite a few doors before we are able to talk long enough to present our sermon and introduce Bible literature that will help them in a study of Jehovah’s Word. We may begin to wonder, “What’s wrong?” But as we stop for a moment and weigh matters in the light of God’s Word, we realize that the opposition is not against us personally but against the message we bear. As we reflect, we may see ways to sharpen our presentations so as to speak more convincingly and create a greater response to the message, but the important thing is not to quit. The satisfaction from our ministry, despite these incidents, comes when we realize that we have faithfully endeavored to give the witness. Those who refuse to listen will be without excuse in saying they did not have opportunity to hear. But what a distinct pleasure it is to find here and there a hearing ear! These occasions more than make up for all the times we are turned away.

    14. How will reasonable goals help ensure success in the ministry?

    14 Setting reasonable objectives or goals in the ministry contributes to our success . The goals should not be too high, so that, if they are not reached, this is a cause for discouragement. On the other hand, the goals should not be so low that we are being content with mere token service. The objectives, of course, should be within our capabilities as determined by health, family circumstances and other factors. Can you make adjustments so as to be a preacher of the good news full time? If so, this would be a reasonable goal for you. On the other hand, perhaps you are confined to your home due to sickness. In this case, your going from house to house may be quite limited, but, then, there will be opportunities to witness to those who visit, and you will be able to use the telephone and letters to reach others with the Kingdom message. Good scheduling and following through with determination will aid you to reach the reasonable goal of activity in the ministry that you have set for yourself. Remember, too, others see your faithfulness in the ministry under these circumstances and are encouraged to greater activity themselves. Moreover,

    success in the ministry is also reflected in your application of Christian principles, so that you are pleasant, showing perseverance and a positive frame of mind rather than letting your infirmity cause you to be unpleasant or difficult to be around.

    15. If unavoidable circumstances have limited our opportunities in the ministry, why is there no reason to feel discouragement?

    15 Due to certain circumstances, such as a lack of education, advanced age or a physical handicap, a person may not have been chosen to give public lectures from the platform or may have had some difficulty starting or regularly holding a Bible study with someone else. He may have tried diligently to improve and may have accepted the help of others, but to conduct a Bible study regularly has proved to be difficult for him. He has found, too, that he just cannot seem to measure up to being a public speaker. While this may bring some disappointment, there is every reason to be encouraged. Good is being accomplished. By his persevering in the ministry, many will have the opportunity at least to hear the good news, and Bible literature can be placed. This can be read and profited from by those contacted. This diligence and desire to make advancement will be richly blessed in unexpected ways by Jehovah. By no means can we say his ministry is a failure. In this case one might be a living example of how God has chosen “the weak things of the world, that he might put the strong things to shame.”

    16. What can be done in many instances where one’s education or natural ability is limited?

    16 If you are one with little formal education or natural ability, then the thing to do is use all the provisions Jehovah has made to train you for the ministry, even if it means, as in some cases, starting right from the beginning and learning to read and write. More experienced ministers will be glad to help you. If one has a willing spirit, wanting to do Jehovah’s will for him, he will have success in the ministry, because Jehovah guarantees it by his spirit.— Luke 11:13; 2 Tim. 1:6-8 .

    17. How can one young in years be successful in the Kingdom activity?

    17 A publisher young in years might feel that because he is unable to deliver a Bible sermon or to conduct Bible studies like more experienced publishers, his activity is not successful. To the contrary, young publishers of the good news can do much to help others learn the truth. While their Bible activity at first might be limited to a well-planned presentation in connection with placing copies of the

    Watchtower and Awake! magazines, and using opportunities to speak to their teachers and fellow students about the Bible, gradually they will be able to expand their activity into the back-call and Bible-study work with the help of their parents. Many young servants of Jehovah have given a wonderful account of themselves in school and otherwise in courageously speaking about their Creator in the days of their youth. Consider, too, what a fine impression this must make on others, to see boys and girls doing such an honorable work rather than growing up to be lazy troublemakers in the community.—Eccl. 12:1; Matt. 21:16; Ps. 148:12, 13 .

    18. If one has not yet helped someone to become a baptized disciple, is there reason to conclude that his ministry has been a failure?

    18 An experienced publisher, however,

    may reflect upon his ministry and observe that he has not as yet assisted anyone to become a disciple to the point of dedication and baptism. Bible literature is placed and return calls are made, and in some instances a Bible study might be started for a period. While the expected results may not have been forthcoming as yet, it is good to remember that one’s ministry is not a failure because he has not as yet helped one to become a disciple. No, his ministry is a working reality; he has still been active in preaching the good news and in holding high Jehovah’s great name. He has been faithful in the ministry, and this has helped him in working out his integrity and love for Jehovah. Now, with application of teaching methods and help from more experienced ministers, perhaps it will be possible not only to start a Bible study but also to hold this regularly and thus share in ‘making disciples.’

    19. Summarize the four reasons why our ministry is successful.

    19 Why is your ministry successful? Never forget that it is in more ways than one! We will continue to work for and confidently look to Jehovah for increase, but, as we approach the end, we will not be discouraged if the increase becomes slower in some parts of the world than in others. In fact, we are forewarned that the time will come when none will want to listen to Jehovah’s Christian witnesses. Nevertheless, with Jehovah’s unfailing help, we will faithfully preach the final witness as a warning of Jehovah’s coming execution of the wicked, we will maintain our integrity in the face of opposition and adversity, and, above all, we will hold high Jehovah’s great name. “My Father is glorified in this, that you keep bearing much fruit and prove yourselves my disciples.”— John 15:8 .

    [Picture on page 212]

    Shut-ins, too, have success in spreading the “ good news” by letters and the telephone

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