What is it like to be an elder???

by confliction 10 Replies latest jw friends

  • confliction

    I'm not 18 yet, so I've never had the chance to become one (thank god), but what kind of things do you learn as an elder that are... different from being a regular JW or basically someone without "priveleges"?

    For example, what stuff do you hear, what books do you get, what kind of things did you see, etc.

  • SnakesInTheTower

    I am trying to forget my 5 years as an elder (2001-2006, with a 10 month break in 2002).

    However, I will never forget what one elder told me when I was still a wet-behind-the-ears-newly-appointed-ministerial servant back in 1986:

    "Rich, be glad you are not an elder. Once you become an elder, you can never walk in to the KH and look at people the same way ever. You know who hates who, who has done what to/with whom, you know all the business and gossip of everyone. Ignorance is bliss."

    Was he ever right. As to the books and things...the elder book (at least the ks91 edition) is on the internet as a PDF...some even have "elder notes" which are the real "juicy" stuff that WT would never publish in a copyrighted book but will transmit as verbal heresay at elders meetings/schools for them to write in the 2 inch margins. MTS (Ministerial Training School) was that times 10. It was at MTS that I realized the utter bull$hit of the organization. Only took me another 5 years to leave it all.

    I am so glad I am not an elder or a JW anymore.

    Snakes (Rich )

  • OnTheWayOut

    The elders get the elders' manual. They will get a brand new one this year, but up until that change, the book was called PAY ATTENTION TO YOURSELVES AND ALL THE FLOCK. It's loaded with ordinary references to WT magazines and other books. The real thrust of it is the notes that are taken by elders in the margins. That way, WTS did not print that information, it's just each elder's notes.

    We also received a talk outline (just for the elders) from the WTS delivered through the C.O. at every one of his visits to the congregation and sometimes at the Circuit Assemblies. Elders also attended the elder school called Kingdom Service or something like that. These were an opportunity for WTS to tell us that we were not to promote college. We could forgive many elders' sins even though we couldn't forgive them of a "publisher."

    WTS sent letters to the body of elders reminding us of trends and problems and special instructions on handling problems- things we could not share with the congregations. While I didn't notice it at first, the organization always always always came ahead of actually helping individuals.

    We had no real training in specific problems but were supposed to help members with depression and unemployment and WT-defined sins. The only answers we were to give people were to do more for the organization, do more preaching, do more praying, do more reading, do less of anything that takes members away from doing more for the organization. There really are no other answers to give the members accept to just cooperate fully with whatever is asked of them.

    It's a real power trip for many janitors and grease monkeys with no college to be "in charge" of something. I never fully understood that then, but looking back, the WTS certainly used the elders' desire to feel important. They stroked egos and let elders do their bidding.

  • inbetween

    "Rich, be glad you are not an elder. Once you become an elder, you can never walk in to the KH and look at people the same way ever. You know who hates who, who has done what to/with whom, you know all the business and gossip of everyone. Ignorance is bliss."

    How true this statement is, being an elder actually alienates you from many people. All my close friends are outside of my congo.

    From day one of my "privilege", I think there were only a few times, were I thought, I can do something good, mostly its either administartive stuff, or judging of people, based on their field service reports or meeting attendance....thats at least what we do at elder meetings....

    Some in the congregation view you as kind of chieftain, others observe you and your family closely, to spot some flaws, and then we have the CO-visits and elder schools, were sometimes you are treated in a very condescending way.

    Additionally to elder book, we get letters from the branch, that are only for elders. Often deal with some details on judicial things, for example, how much pornographie, before someone looses privileges or get dfd, how much contact can a serving brother have with dfd relatives, etc...

    Most elders I know do not seem to be happy in their "privilege"...

  • Wasanelder Once
    Wasanelder Once

    You see that the congregation is just like any other group of people. They are worse because they claim to have the identifying mark of love. What they love to do is tear each other apart and hide behind a spirituality based on magazine placements, highlight pens and meeting attendance. Elders are really herding cats, thus they burn out. Add to that the fact that many are seeking prominance among the cats and you have a dream job for an attention seeker.

  • wannabefree

    Rich ... I was told almost exactly the same thing by another elder. How true it was.

  • fokyc

    As an Elder you are infallible, you are appointed by 'The Holy Spirit',

    you are superior in every way compared to the rest of the flock.

    You NEVER make a mistake or an error of judgement - and if you do!

    You have the ability to lie about anything or anybody,

    the Branch office or Bethel will support you in ALL your lies.

    You pray 'long and hard' about some things.

    A simple summary for you from my personal experience of over 50 years.

    I have NEVER been an elder! I was once an assistant Watchtower Servant,

    a sister was THE Watchtower Servant!

  • cantleave

    Being an elder resulted in me leaving

  • designs

    If you are doing the job right you are a pastor and it brings long hours. People call late into the evening to talk about life and problems. You can be called in the middle of the night to rush to a hospital for an emergency. You counsel and listen to kids, teens, adults and the elderly. You take your Book Study group out in Service. Over the course of a year you should try to work with each one in the group. There is some prressure to advance as a speaker and if you are half way descent you get on the outgoing speakers list. Once a month you will travel to another congregation to give the Sunday talk. Every 5 years there is an Elders School. You give wedding and funeral talks.

    There is not much difference to a Pastor in a Church except you are not paid, its more like a Deacon position because of that.

  • truthlover

    Designs prefaced it correctly - if you are doing it right----- the majority today are not doing it right based on personal experience and comments on the board.. if they were doing it right, they would have called on folks who appeared to be having problems, doubts, family issues, and even when asked to help, either no meetings were held for the people in stress, or were conveniently cancelled and never re booked, hence people are upset and know that if their spirituality is not important to the elders, then maybe its not important at all.

    I personally know of a recent case - a whole family -- just walked away, doing nothing out of line with the scriptures - family people, working hard, reads Bible to get spiritual help and guidance still who had never had any help at all, and when the few elders did call to visit, it was under suspicion that it was for a df... therefore, they refused visits, not wanting to be on the outside right away - its now been over a year --I would suspect they will be getting df in abstentia as a few cong R/F are saying they are apostate - from whom?? That word has ugly connotations in the org..

    SoWhat is it like to be an elder? Depends on how good you want to do the job and that involves a lot of time and stress, especially after 40+ work week, kids at home, wife, bills to pay and then the heaping amount of work the society gets for free to run a congregation that when the Co visits, doesnt have the time of day for issues that would give you strength to carry on spiritually... I think I have covered most of it


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