[From ws 4/18 p. 25 – July 2 – July 8]
“Commit to Jehovah whatever you do, and your plans will succeed.”—Proverbs 16:3.
As you readers know the Bible says very little about education and employment, certainly not about what, how much and what type we should or can have. It is left up to the conscience of the individual, as it should be.
“Why set spiritual goals”
“Once you start working toward spiritual goals, you begin building a record of good works in Jehovah’s eyes” (par.6)
But what are those good works and spiritual goals? The paragraph continues :
- “Christine was ten years old when she made up her mind to read regularly the life stories of faithful Witnesses”;
- “At 12 years of age, Toby set the goal of reading the entire Bible before his baptism”;
- “Maxim was 11 years old and his sister Noemi was one year younger when they got baptized. Both then began working toward the goal of Bethel service.”
Reading the entire Bible is at least a beneficial thing to do, but hardly qualifies as a ‘good work’. But as for “reading life stories”, “working toward the goal of Bethel Service”, and being 10 or 11 years old at baptism, where do any of these “good works” or ‘spiritual goals’ feature in the Scriptures?
For a full discussion on what good works are from the Bible’s standpoint, please read James 2:1-26 and Galatians 5:19-23. These scriptures clearly show “good works” are things we do to or for others, consisting of how we treat them; not things we do for ourselves. Here is a brief summary of some of the good works mentioned:
- James 2:4: Good works are not having “class distinctions among yourselves and “ not becoming “judges rendering wicked decisions.”
- James 2:8: “If, now, YOU practice carrying out the kingly law according to the scripture: “You must love your neighbor as yourself,” YOU are doing quite well.”
- James 2:13, 15-17: “Mercy exults triumphantly over judgment…If a brother or a sister is in a naked state and lacking the food sufficient for the day, 16 yet a certain one of YOU says to them: “Go in peace, keep warm and well fed,” but YOU do not give them the necessities for [their] body, of what benefit is it?” Exercising mercy to those who are suffering or in need of support is a good work.
- James 1:27 “The form of worship that is clean and undefiled from the standpoint of our God and Father is this: to look after orphans and widows in their tribulation, and to keep oneself without spot from the world.” Providing for the poor and needy. More good works.
All these scriptures (and there are plenty more like them) have the same thing in common. They are all about how we treat others.
The article continues with its erroneous logic “The third reason for setting goals early in life has to do with decision-making. Adolescents have to make decisions about education, employment, and other matters.”(par.7).
This statement is only partly true as parents usually have to assist their adolescents to make such decisions. Why? It is because the adolescents usually do not have the wisdom to realize the implications of their choices. As a result this could be seen as a barely disguised attempt to bypass the parents, by trying to instill a strong desire in the adolescents to want to fulfill organization goals. Perhaps they hope the parents will find it difficult to oppose the decisions of such adolescents, even though they know it is not wise, because of what others in the congregation will say.
Paragraph 8 contains yet another side swipe at university education with the example of Damaris.
“Damaris finished her basic schooling with top grades. She could have accepted a scholarship to study law at a university, but she chose instead to work in a bank. Why? ‘I made up my mind very early on to pioneer. That meant working part-time. With a university degree in law, I could have earned a lot of money, but I would have had little chance of finding part-time work.’ Damaris has now been a pioneer for 20 years.”
Here is a prime example of the organization’s propaganda. Damaris refused a scholarship to study law, something she would have been more than capable of doing, otherwise she would not have been offered a scholarship. Also the scholarship would have meant it was at greatly reduced cost to herself except for the time invested. As for the reason given, the desire to work part-time, that is always possible if one has the desire and drive to make it happen. No doubt she could also have been of greater use to the organization today than she is as a pioneer. How so? Today the organization requires the services of many expensive lawyers which it hires to defend itself from the growing number of lawsuits for its decades-long mishandling of child sexual abuse within the congregation.
Even the comment “Many, though, are very unhappy with their jobs” made about the lawyers Damaris meets is the usual unprovable and unquantifiable comment. It is also negative. “Many” is not a majority, and it would therefore be equally true to say ‘many are happy with their jobs’ which would be positive. It is important to note that both the organization’s comment and my offered alternative are both just opinions and should be treated as such, not as facts. It can be equally stated that many older witnesses now regret that they followed the advise of the Governing Body and did not pursue higher education when they had the opportunity.
“Become Well-prepared to Give a Witness”
Paragraph 10 tells us “Jesus Christ stressed that “the good news has to be preached first.” (Mark 13:10) Because the preaching work is so urgent, it should be high on our list of priorities”. However, as discussed in reviews many times, the urgency was in the context of the destruction of Jerusalem (which came a few years later in 70 AD) as made clear by an impartial reading of Mark 13:14-20. As Mark 13:30-32 states in part “Keep looking, keep awake, for YOU do not know when the appointed time is.”
How many impressionable youngsters will be frightened into following the organization’s strongly worded suggestions because of fear? Jehovah asks us to serve him out of love, not fear. (Luke 10:25-28) Additionally, many Witnesses have feelings of being inadequate as JW’s and as a result they have the view that they only have a slim chance of going through Armageddon. This is due, in great part, to this continual pressure to preach with which they struggle to comply. This pressure is kept up as the next sentence adds: “Could you set the goal of sharing in the ministry more often? Could you pioneer?“ (par.10)
At least paragraph 11 contains some good ideas using the scriptures alone for assistance on how to answer a question others may have: “Why do you believe in God?”.
“As you have opportunity, encourage your schoolmates to look up jw.org for themselves.” (Par. 12) Why not encourage them to lookup a scripture in the Bible? Surely if “all scripture is inspired and beneficial” that would be the better course to take. (2 Timothy 3:16)
Should the organization’s teachings take precedence over God’s word? Should we encourage people to look to the Organization of Jehovah’s Witnesses for their salvation, or to the Christ?
“Do Not Be Distracted”
Paragraph 16 attempts to try to train the children to accept the authority and advice given by elders by using the experience of Christoph. According to the experience, he asked the advice of an elder before joining a sports club. It’s not mentioned as to why he didn’t ask his parents first, if he wanted advice. As it was, the advice about the “risk of getting infected by the spirit of competition” wasn’t that helpful as it didn’t affect him.
“In time, however, he discovered that the sport was violent, even dangerous. Again he spoke to several elders, all of whom gave him Scriptural advice.” (par.16)
Did he really need the advice from the elders to give up the unnamed sport? It raises questions, such as why did he and his parents and the elders not know it was a violent, dangerous sport before he joined? When I was a youth I played a sport for my senior school. After a few years it started to become violent with a win at all costs mentality, which it was not like when I started playing. As a result, I stopped playing that sport for the school, and this was done without needing the advice of either my parents or the elders. I find it difficult to believe that other youths are not capable of making the same decision on their own based on their trained Christian conscience.
“Jehovah sent me good advisers” (par.16)
- How could they be good advisors when the advice came after the problem arose and not before?
- Again, why did he not get the advice from his parents?
- What mechanism did Jehovah use to arrange the sending of good advisers as claimed?
- Why is the sport involved not mentioned?
- Is this not yet another concocted or manufactured experience?
It has all the hallmarks of a manufactured ‘experience’, and if it is not, it certainly offers poor advice. The scriptural advice to handle these types of situations and questions is found in Proverbs 1:8. For example, where it says: “Listen, my son, to the discipline of your father, and do not forsake the law of your mother.” See also Proverbs 4:1 and 15:5 amongst others. There is no scripture I could find which clearly shows that we should seek the counsel and advice of elders, especially as a priority over our parents.
Finally, we find some good advice in paragraph 17: “Think of all the sound counsel you find in God’s Word”.
This is definitely where the best advice will be found. So when the article says “But youths who today keep focused on theocratic goals will well into adulthood be deeply satisfied with the choices they made” (par.18), that is also true but with provisos.
The provisos are that the goals that are held out to them are found or suggested in the Bible and therefore truly theocratic and are not those pushed at them by an organization that will profit from your pursuit of the goals it classes as spiritual goals and constantly puts before WT readers. (See Ephesians 6:11-18a, 1 Thessalonians 4:11-12, 1 Timothy 6:8-12).
Yes, by all means youths would do well to focus on spiritual goals and learning to be fine servants of Jehovah God and Jesus Christ. However they need to ensure that their goals come directly from the Bible and benefit themselves and others for the long term. If they heed the short-term vacuous goals set by the organization this can only leave them one day feeling empty and disillusioned.