[From ws1/17 p. 27 March 27-April 2]
“These things entrust to faithful men, who, in turn,
will be adequately qualified to teach others.”—2Ti 2:2
The purpose of this article is to encourage Witness youths to reach out for positions of responsibility. The modern trend appears to be that fewer and fewer youths see as desirable what the Organization calls “privileges of service”. The decades-long decline in new entrants into the clergy in the rest of Christendom is now manifesting itself within JW.org.
When Is a Privilege not a Privilege?
Paragraph 2 twice uses the term “privilege”.
“Spiritual assignments or privileges also identify people” and “If we have privileges of service, we likewise should value them.”
The New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures (Reference Bible) uses the word six times. The Bible, however, does not use it even once! Each usage in the NWT is not found in the original Greek but has been added in by the translators.
Why isn’t the word used in the Bible? Why is it used so often (over 9,000 times) in the publications of JW.org?
Should the answers influence those giving due consideration to this article’s exhortation to reach out for greater service to the Organization of Jehovah’s Witnesses?
The word “privilege” means, according to the Merriam-Webster dictionary:
- a right or immunity granted as a peculiar benefit, advantage, or favor : prerogative; especially : such a right or immunity attached specifically to a position or an office
One does not consider a slave or servant to be privileged. One does not refer to the lowest class of any society as the privileged class. If we speak of a man coming from a background of privilege, we understand him to be from a family of money and influence. One who is privileged is one who is exalted, placed in a class of people from which the rest are excluded.
We must therefore assume that the constant and frequent use of this term when referring to “assignments of service” within JW.org is intended to foster a view of acquiring a special status within the JW community.
Even when referring to roles within the congregation that are found in Scripture, such as that of overseer (episkopos) and ministerial servant (diakonos) the Organization wishes to promote the idea of privilege and status. This goes contrary to the teaching that Christ repeatedly (and at times frustratingly) tried to impart to his disciples.
“. . .But Jesus called them to him and said: “You know that the rulers of the nations lord it over them and the great men wield authority over them. 26 This must not be the way among you; but whoever wants to become great among you must be your minister, 27 and whoever wants to be first among you must be your slave. 28 Just as the Son of man came, not to be ministered to, but to minister and to give his life as a ransom in exchange for many.”” (Mt 20:25-28)
Lip service is given to this Bible passage, but it is rarely honored in the observance. The exalted status given to elders, circuit overseers, and those in so-called full time service has often proven to puff up the ego (1Co 4:6, 18, 19; 8:1) and given men the erroneous idea that they can rule over the lives of those in the flock of Christ. This has often resulted in men meddling in what does not belong to them. (2Th 3:11)
When Is Growth, not Growth?
Paragraph 15 claims:
We live in exciting times. The earthly part of Jehovah’s organization is growing in many ways, but growth necessitates change. – par. 15
This implies that the need for youths to reach out is due to growth within the Organization. However, last year JW.org went through an unprecedented downsizing of staff as 25% of its worldwide workforce was cut. The ranks of special pioneers were decimated. The construction of new Kingdom halls has slowed greatly, with new ones being built mainly to replace older ones that have been sold off. There has been an unprecedented Kingdom hall sell off over the past 12 months, with the money disappearing into the coffers of Bethel. This at a time that the majority of first world nations are experiencing a dwindling population of Witnesses.
Overall, there is a lot of good advice in this article. One could apply it to the Christian congregation or a large multinational corporation with equal benefit. For the Christian, applying this counsel with regard to training younger ones to take the load off older ones in the congregation is only truly beneficial if one is working within the framework of true Christianity. It is for each one to make that determination for him or herself.