As a Witness Did you Feel "Coerced" to be "Used" for " Privileges" ?

by flipper 20 Replies latest jw friends

  • flipper

    Being raised in a fairly prominent witness family was a challenge for me growing up . My dad was city overseer for 30 years in the same city . Older brother in Bethel for 8 years, has been an elder 35 years , an older sister who went to Gilead school and regular pioneered for years . So, being the youngest son growing up - I had a lot to live up to with the family " legacy " so to speak. Not only was pressure put on me to " reach out " for " privileges " , but I was almost made to feel it was required to be fully approved by Jehovah . My elder father always asked me growing up, " Mr. Flipper, how is your standing in the congregation ? How are you progressing ? " Never any questions like , " Son, how is your relationship with Jehovah ? " It was always about position and if I was being "used" for "privileges" . More about position and appearance really. In time I had to learn not to put pressure on myself , and be content with having served as a ministerial servant for awhile - as the whole " good boys club" progression and politics thing nauseated me.

    Just think of the term being " used " . In normal human language , none of us want to be "used" !It makes us feel like we are being abused. But in Jehovah's Witnesses cult speak , you are supposed to feel " honored " to be " used " ! Strange , huh ? And what is with the word, " privileges" ? As witnesses we were to consider cleaning the damned restrooms as a " privilege" ! Because it was the Kingdom Hall? I got sick of being suckered into cleaning the restrooms ; as it was what I did for a living anyway, having to deal with it, and the last thing I wanted to do after a meeting at 9:30 P.M. on a Thursday night was clean brother or sister " miss the toilet's" sloppy urinating habits ! That and many other things I did not consider a " privilege " ! If the WTS wasn't so cheap - like other churches- they'd hire a janitorial service to do it.

    So, what about you my friends ? Did you feel coerced into being " used " as well for " privileges " ? How did it make you feel being used ? Like you were really appreciated ? Like you made a difference ? Or like you were really being " used " for what the witnesses got out of you ? Also, what things got your dander up in ways of being " used " by the organization ? I look forward to your comments and experiences, and will take your comments as they come off the air ! Thanks for listening, and Peace out, Mr. Flipper

  • Robert7

    I actually had the opposite problem. They never used me, even back when I wanted to be used. I made hints at wanting to reach out, but I wasn't good enough. I didn't have huge hours in service, but I was always regular.

    What really pissed me off was that a 9-year old was doing mics this last Sunday. I wasn't ever good enough as an adult, but a 9 year old is?

    I'm glad it worked out the way it did, because I think handling mics are stupid now. And all that contributed to my fade. Thanks brothers!

  • Zico

    I was pleased to be given more privileges. I saw it as recognition for the hard work I put in on Service, pre-Study, and making sure I attended meetings regularly. I suppose I didn't see activities like doing the mikes, assisting on the Watchtower Counter, being on the Watchtower readers' list etc... as an extra burden anyway, since I regularly attended meetings and pre-studied for meetings anyway.

    I can't even remember the last time I did Hall Cleaning...

  • Casper

    The word, " privilege" ... makes me cringe..!! We heard it so much. As you said Mr. Flipper, it was a " privilege" to clean toliets.

    A " privilege" to vacuum the hall, feed the speaker, mow the grass, etc, etc, etc.... We were "USED" free labor. They could have had some of this done, just as you mentioned.

    I was never coerced, so to speak, into these things, but if you were not doing your part, you were made to feel guilty. And treated as such.

    The only thing I was coerced into doing, was aux. pioneering, so much so, that the Elder that pushed me so hard called the next day to apologize and offered to take my name off the list. Can you imagine that...!! I went ahead and did it anyway.


  • undercover

    When I was a teenager, they "used" me early for microphone duty, then attendant, then magazine servant. I was an MS at the age of 18. By the time I was 20, I had done everything but the accounts. That followed shortly after.

    But I stagnated there. I never had the iniaitive to give public talks, so as long as I avoided that, they wouldn't consider me for elder. Later, they started to really pressure me to try public talks. They were grooming me for elder in every other area. I went on sheparding calls, the elders spent a lot of time with me in service, encouraging me to reach out more and more. They confided in me things they weren't supposed to as far as what the friends were getting into that caused committee meetings.

    At first I was flattered. These guys could see the good in me, even though I knew I had some "secret sins". But over time, I started to tire of the work of being an MS. And then I started hating the thought of having to sit in on a committee meeting, judging people for wrongdoing, when I knew I wasn't as pure as the driven snow. It seemed hypocritical. Of course, I wasn't going to come clean with my habits, for I saw what happened to people when they confessed. So I plodded along as an MS and avoided doing any more than I was to avoid the elder encouragment. I even dropped my service hours to below the congregational average to keep from being recommended for anything when the CO came around.

    Looking back now, I realize I was being "used" and "coerced". One elder did used to say that they would willingly accept any brother who met the requirements to MS or elder because it made the work easier for all of them.

    But other elders seemed to have an agenda at who would or wouldn't be accepted. They liked to accept younger brothers to MS because they didn't buck the system and it would be years before they would be considered for elder. Older brothers who made MS would question too much and could make problems if they became elder.

    In too many congregations that I was part of, there was always a power struggle in the elder body. One hall had three brothers who wielded all the power. Any elder that bucked them would find themselves in some controversy and being removed. They earned the nickname, "the unholy trinity" amongst their detractors.

    The older I got, the more BS I saw and the less that I wanted any part of being an MS or elder.

  • Satanus

    I felt coerced to give talks, read for the wt, read for the book studies, do prayers, take the service arrangements, go door to door. I didn't like doing any of those things. But, they were supposed to be important contributions to the 'most important work on the earth'.


  • jaguarbass

    Being used by the congregation would be a sign of Jehobers blessing. That would be a good thing. A good sign.

    I remember the presiding overseer in Cleveland always asking, "How are things, progressing"?

    They must have been trained to say that back in the day.

  • maxwell

    I'm not sure that I felt coerced. Maybe I did. I never imagined myself saying no if they asked to "use" me to perform some "privilege". Ironically, at one point, when they ceased to "use" me for microphone holding "privileges" because of low field service hours, I was asked to be "used" for the "privilege" of cutting the grass. I guess I was still good enough for that. I like a good little j-dub, said yes immediately not thinking anything, but my parents, who are still very strong JW, questioned the discrepancy and got that invitation to be "used" rescinded.

    Also, in a somewhat unrelated comment, the word "privilege" also has special meaning to me because it is the word I missed in the school spelling bee one year when I was expecting to go at least to regionals. I wonder did my mind get distracted by JW-speak when I heard that word.

  • OnTheWayOut

    I went back and forth on this.

    When I was young and gung-ho, I reached out. Glad to help. Clean a toilet? No problem.
    I made elder before I had been in 7 years.

    I moved far away from the congregation that appointed me.
    The new congregation saw that I wasn't in "the Truth" for 10 years yet. They didn't appoint
    me again as an elder because the C.O. visited within a month of my arrival, and they didn't
    know me well. For the next 6 months, they didn't ask me to do anything. I didn't read at
    meetings, I didn't have any assignments in the hall like microphone handler or magazine
    counter distributer- nothing. At first, I hated it- "Why don't they use me?" I started to enjoy
    the ease of attending meetings with no responsibility, though. I started to think I should not
    say anything about it, should not reach out at all. I did occasionally get to clean the toilets.
    Then they (completely out of the blue) appointed me an elder again. About a month after the
    C.O. visit, they approached me. I hesitated, but really let the title go to my head. Apparently,
    my lack of complaining about "not being used" except to clean toilets showed them how
    humble I was.

    That was 1995. Soon after, the "This Generation" change came about. I was dumbfounded that
    it wasn't a big deal in the congregation. Just a quick answer or two in the paragraphs then on to
    the next point. I started my plan to prepare for retirement in "this system of things." I completely
    changed my attitude. I became a very popular elder because of my attitude. I didn't volunteer
    for assignments at the DC or Assembly Hall until someone forced me to be an attendant.
    I put in time at work instead of in the field. I did my talk assignments, but otherwise was not
    gung-ho. It was as if I had made it to the top, so why did I need to kiss any more ass? I never
    volunteered or even showed a desire to speak at assemblies. I was forced a couple of times to
    do stuff at assemblies. Once, I was in a drama, and once I was in a elder discussion. I liked the
    drama, but hated the discussion.

    Later, I moved to a foreign-language congregation. They insisted that I continue as an elder.
    I did it. I hated myself for agreeing to that. I thought they would leave me alone, but NOOOOO.
    They coerced me to accept the "privileges."

    Since I had been quiet, the entire congregation was surprised. They didn't realize I was
    up for nomination.

    That's about as complete an answer as I could possibly give.

  • flipper

    ROBERT 7- So they didn't " use " you enough ? That would be insulting watching a 9 year old boy carry a microphone when you were passed by when you are a capable adult . Am I correct in assuming that the 9 year old kid was an elders son ?

    ZICO- Maybe you had elders that didn't pressure you with all you handled . It sounds like you were used a lot. Hope they didn't wear you out !

    CASPER- It's true that the word " privilege " drove me around the bend too ! I too was made to feel guilty if I didn't perform my " duties ".

    UNDERCOVER- I understand what you went through. I too served as a ministerial servant from age 20 to 26 , and even though I gave public talks , like you I could never see myself sitting in judgment of my brother and sisters at elders JC meetings . That's one reason I too stopped reaching out for elder . Like you I saw the power struggles among elders and that it was all BS !

    SATANUS- I agree we were all " coerced " into doing what was considered , " the most important work on the earth ". But with all the things you mentioned - it still was very tiring to do them all well. Too many demands .

    JAGUAR BASS- It was alledgedly a sign of " Jehovah's blessing " a good thing. But I still never enjoyed all the work in the privileges due to all the politics and competition .

    MAXWELL- It truly is amazing what they considered as privileges , cutting grass, cleaning toilets, even timing the talks on the ministry school and dinging the bell if someone went overtime ! Personally , I felt very privileged in leaving and going home after he final " amen " was said in the prayer.

    OTWO- It sounds like you really wanted to be used at first , but then as you had more and more taste of it, becoming an elder wasn't the rejoicing experience you thought it was going to be at first. I'm sure it got very tiring after awhile. I know it would have tired me out in time ! Peace out, Mr. Flipper

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