Former elder here - raised in the "truth" served 12 years MS, and 3 years Elder until resigning Nov. 2006 due to the rampant hypocrisy in both the local body and the JW leadership. Since then I've been doing the slow fade (made some progress with wife but most of the immediate family are still hardcore into it despite all my efforts- aarggh!). email: [email protected]
Like most who've commented here, reaching my life-long goal of being appointed was a dream come true - that is until I saw from the "inside" how things really worked. One of the first things I did to get myself up to speed was to read up on the "letters to body of elders" which were supposed to be cataloged and kept up-to-date in the congregation file by the secretary. In our case the letters were all loose and thrown in a large drawer in the KH library. So, I took it upon myself to update the files by removing the old and inserting the new letters where appropriate. What stood out to me in doing this exercise was that protecting Jehovah's name, (in reality protecting the organization) comes before anything - I mean anything else. Forget the friends, forget their needs, forget bible principles, forget common sense, it's all about protecting the organization. And as a new elder you are expected to immediately conform and don't ask questions (after all, elders are in the palm of Jesus hand).
As has already been stated by others here, one main reason for my resigning was that I came to realize that there are two distinct and different religions here. The one is just a facade all pretty, shiny and neatly presented to the friends - spiritual paradise, peace, unity, love among yourselves, etc. while the ugly truth about the Watchtower leadership is hidden from view - politics, power grabbing, brown nosing, backbiting, witch hunts, hypocrisy, green handshakes, etc. They are no different from those Jesus condemned, "... you resemble whitewashed graves, which outwardly indeed appear beautiful but inside are full of dead men's bones and every sort of uncleanness" Mt 23:27
I also came to realize is that the demands upon elders are ridiculously unreasonable for the times we live in. Most elders are so busy with their assigned duties, giving parts, attending elder meetings, serving on committees, making shepherding visits, keeping their field service hours up, there is no time for anything else including taking care of themselves physically, or their families emotional or other needs. And certainly there is no time to investigate or "make sure of all things" or really contemplate what is going on here. The clueless GB members in their "ivory towers" have all their meals fixed, their shirts pressed, their health care and travel expenses taken care of, and who knows what other perks they get - they have no idea what it's like out here for most of us under-educated drones who are struggling just to feed our families and pay our electric bill.
I still attend meetings, (for families sake) but getting off the treadmill has allowed me much more qualitiy time to actually live plus look into some things that I never had time for earlier. Reading others experiences here has been quite therapeudic. For those other lurkers out there, the treadmill doesn't stop, but you can just jump off.