Qualified to be elders?

by Andyman 24 Replies latest jw friends

  • Andyman

    This is an issue that really bothers me. The elders are supposed to be looking after the well being of the congregation. They are supposed to be helping those in need. But are the really qualified?

    Of all the elders in my local congregation, there are two congregations meeting at different times at the same hall one spanish one english, only 2 of them have had any college at all. One of those who went to college did so to avoid the draft, the other only went for a year or so and was into parties and drugs.

    The others, in the english, only have high school educations, and some in the spanish don't even have that.

    The problem is that they are trying to take care of ALL the problems from alcohol abuse to marriage problems. They are not qualified to do this! It seems that almost every problem can be solved by "making more meetings", and "going out in the field service more". IF it were only that easy!

    Many brothers and sisters need proffessional help, yet they aren't getting it. Those who do seek out therapists are warned not to talk about "congregation problems". Now what kind of advice is that? Most of the problems ARE in the congregation, so how do you get help if you can't talk about what is bothering you?

    In my area there is a BIG problem with alcohol, yet nothing is being done about it. WHY? Well it may have something to do with the fact that the elders themselves have a problem in this area. How can they help someone when the have the same problems? Same with marriage problems. The elders have just as many problems in this area as the rest of the congregation, so how can they help?

    Sheperding calls are almost non-exsistent around here. In my first 5 years as a JW I had two sheperding calls. Since I have become inactive, I have had 1 visit from the P.O. who made excusses as to why the congregation was so messed up. One from the C.O. and one elder, they also were making excussees for the problems going on in the congregation. And several calls trying to get me to say I no longer believed the GB was the FDS.

    In all these visits and calls the only things I get asked are, "do you still read the magazines?"
    Never have I been asked if I still read the bible.

    And of course they used to ask if I still believed the society was God's chosen organization.

    It seems to me that the elders are only qualified to be society men. They aren't really trying to help those in need. They are only concerned about the society, and how you think regarding the societies views.

    My question is does this system of once your and elder you are there for life, and once you make P.O. you are P.O. for life really benifit the congregations? Wouldn't it be better if the elders were change once in awhile? And wouldn't it be better if the same guy wasn't P.O. all the time?



  • SolidSender

    Andy I wish I could put this a little less bluntly – you’re obviously an intelligent person, wouldn’t it be better if you gave the JW’s the flick and got on with life in the real world? Or do you want to spend the rest of it having others making your decisions for you?

  • RedhorseWoman

    Churches of Christendom have always been criticized for having paid clergy. JW's were somehow better because all of the ministers are private citizens who give of their time to shepherd the congregation while still taking care of all their own responsibilities.

    While I used to be proud of the "volunteer" spirit, it always bothered me that the elders were NOT qualified to deal with all the problems that were presented to them. They are dealing with matters that are presumably concern life and death, and yet they have no training whatsoever. As much as they might want to help, their only recourse is to advise more service, more study, more prayer....and hope for the best.

    I have finally come to the conclusion that paid clergy is probably the better way to go. Ministers and priests are educated and have taken courses in psychology. They can recognize a serious problem when they see one and recommend that the parishioner get professional help.

  • waiting

    Hey, Andy,

    I'm a woman, thus, cannot explain the actions of the Society or elders - being all men in authority. That out of the way, some elders really do try hard. I'm sure you've read the posts of their overwork, etc.

    In our city with 4 cong., to my knowledge, there is no elder with a college education - not even some college credits. Which is about 35 elders. That does not make a man good/bad. It just makes one wonder at their qualifications to be counselors in sticky situations, as you said. And life is full of stickiness.

    As for shepherding calls - who has time? I've had a couple from my local elders in time past. They would announce to the entire cong. what book study was to be called upon - and we were told to plan on being home or notify elders in advance if we weren't. They would tell each family what time to expect their "visit." I personally found this system offensive. The calls were regimented, not discussions - just doing their duty.

    I did have one young elder call on me and actually talk to me - I appreciated it. That was 5 years ago, first and last 20 minutes we ever talked about my spirituality.

    I never expected elders to call on me or my husband when our meeting attendance became irratic - and I have not been disappointed. In 4 years, we have not had the pleasure of more than "hi" if we come to their KH.

    Don't be too disappointed in your elders - they are doing what they've been taught. Look to yourself and the Bible.

  • Andyman

    Hi SolidSender;

    Haven't been to a meeting in over 4 years. I still have in-laws who are active, two are elders. I am not DF'd or DA'd. Don't really know my status, and really don't care.

    There are brothers and sisters at my old congregation that I really care about, and that is why I don't DA. My wife really loves her borthers and to DA would be devestating for her. We still get treated as if we were DA'd, you know the shunning thing, by most of the hall, but there are still some who are not playing that game.

    Oh, yes, I don't let the elders run my life anymore. Used to, but that game is over and will never be played again. My decisions are all mine!


    Yep, I am a man and still can't explain the society or the elders!

    Yes, I know there are elders who really care, and they are overworked. However the ones around here are only overworked because they are trying to catch up on all the money they lost out on when the society told them "the end is just around the corner"!

    A couple of the elders still buy that, but not many of them. The ones who do buy it are the ones with no hope unless the world ends! They have no retirement, no house of their own, and bills that they can never pay off. Talk about being depressed.

    My wife and I have been studying the bible, on our own, now for a sevral years. Your right, it is the best way to cope with things.
    Take care.


  • SolidSender

    Andy - sorry about jumping to conclusions. It's just that I figure there's a real gap around here for someone to take the non wishy washy stand. The fatal flaw with the WTBTS is that by convincing themselves that christianity is organisation and regulation bound ( comparable to mosaic law bound Israel ) they've by default thrown love as a motive for service to God completely into doubt ( comparable to mosaic law bound israel ). The result being the absurd elder situation described by yourself at the top of this thread and in fact absurd situations within the organisation described by just about everyone on this post at some time or another. I'm the first to admit I'm a cynic but I paid a high price ( 15 years as a witness )to be one, so I think I've got the right to be one. I'm still trying to get their indoctrination out of my system but doubt if I ever will completely such is it's insidious nature. I believe that one can never give enough consideration to what the hell has gone on and is going on here. I think it's very important to take your life seriously. It got to the point where I was very unhappy being a witness and for me that was important enough reason to put an end to it. More later I guess-SolidSender

  • Frenchy

    Qualifications: This subject has often troubled me. I got this objection from a Catholic priest I once called on out in service. He was likeable man and quite sincere about his beliefs and he took his role as a priest quite seriously. He told me that we take a person off the street, study with that individual for a few weeks or months and then put a Bible in their hands and suddenly they are ministers of God. He then told me of the years he spent studying theology, psychology, Latin, Greek, Hebrew, etc.
    I listened patiently for a while and then I stopped him and told him to be careful before going any further. He paused and looked at me rather curiously and then I told him that the complaints he was voicing were very similar to what the religious leaders of Jesus' day levied against HIS followers...unlettered men and all that. I then reminded him that the professed head of his church was a fisherman. He smiled and then we talked about other things.
    (Hey, I was very good in field service!)
    The Society says that the Bible is what qualifies one on all matters of life (2 Tim 3: 16,27). Sad to say, however, is that when one translates that statement (remember the WTS language. It's looks like English but it's not.)it becomes, The Society is the ultimate source of knowledge and truth on everything. Let's look at the scripture a little more closely.
    When Paul wrote this, he wasn't 'writing the Bible'. What he wrote there eventually became incorporated into what we now call the Bible. This is more relevant than one might first realize. Was Paul perhaps saying that 'in his hands' the Scriptures were adequate to handle all matters of life? Every religion in the world disputes this scripture! How? If this were truly believed by all churches, the only literature they would produce would be a song book and a schedule.
    Do the Scriptures alone adequately qualify a man (or woman)to be a minister of God? Why then the volumes of books and magazines (and magazines that eventually become a book at the end of the year!) 'explaining' the Word of God? That God's Word has to be explained is yet another topic in itself so I won't go there now. (I bet you're glad to hear that!)
    I would like to hear more about what the rest of you think about this. Why is secular training necessary for 'a man of God' to lead his congregation when that 'man' is supposedly qualified by the Bible, 'a book for all times'?

    -Say what you mean, mean what you say-

  • Pathofthorns
    *** Rbi8 2 Corinthians 3:4-6 ***
    4 Now through the Christ we have this sort of confidence toward God. 5 Not that we of ourselves are adequately qualified to reckon anything as issuing from ourselves, but our being adequately qualified issues from God, 6 who has indeed adequately qualified us to be ministers of a new covenant, not of a written code, but of spirit; for the written code condemns to death, but the spirit makes alive.

    I don't believe that schooling is necessary to be a minister of God. It doesn't appear to me that the scriptures indicate this.

    However, it seems that many teachers go beyond spiritual counselling and guidance to playing doctor or some sort of advice giver in areas where he does not qualify, nor have any business doing so.

    Elders are to be humble men, not lording it over the flock, fellow workers. Likely they may simply be men, who through time and experience are simply farther along on the path to gaining the "measure of stature that belongs to the fullness of Christ", and are simply assisting others to reach a measure of Christian maturity too.

    If someone needs a listening ear, they should provide such, if someone needs prayer or scriptural principles to weigh out in a matter, he should provide such. Recognizing these things as the limit of God's training he should recommend individuals needing help beyond what he can offer to seek help from professionals in those fields.

    Most of us also recognize that the best elders were not necessarily the most schooled, or most intelligent. It was the simple, down to earth, person who loved and cared about people. It was the person that immitated Christ.


  • RedhorseWoman

    While I agree with the basic premise that secular education is not necessary to make a good minister, my issue with the elder arrangement arises over their status as counselors.

    If the elders limited their work to preaching and teaching the scriptures and ministering to the flock about spiritual matters, I would have no concern.

    However, when dealing (or not dealing, as the case may be) with serious emotional or marital issues, the elders simply parrot the advice from the Society to spend more time in service and Bible study.

    I've been in the position of needing help emotionally during the period of time when "outside" therapies were more or less forbidden. The elders had no knowledge or experience with which to help me....and they didn't. I was left to feel even more guilty about myself and received no help whatsoever. I made it through somehow, and since that time I realize that I was experiencing acute clinical depression, which would have been easily resolved with therapy and medication.

    Instead, I was hounded for not attending enough meetings (difficult to do when you sleep for 16 hours a day), and urged to associate more with my brothers and sisters....yeah, right.

    Sisters who have had the misfortune to marry abusive husbands are counseled to become more sumissive to the headship of their husbands and are told that a scriptural divorce is not an option.

    These are the types of situations where the elders should be humble enough to realize that neither they nor the WTBTS has the answer for every problem. They should also be wise enough to recommend therapy, and they should have resources available to recommend to someone who is experiencing major problems.

    This type of education should be required for anyone in the position of elder. How many people have died or been disfellowshipped because of a seeming unrepentant attitude when they could have been helped if the elders simply knew enough to recognize an area where they were unable to provide counsel. The arrogance of it astounds me.

  • Andyman

    What does it take to become an elder?

    Lots of hours in the field service, maybe pioneering, good meeting attendance, and in my old congregation "connections".

    Two of the elders in my old congregation got promoted because they had the above, and their father-in-law was the P.O. Now I really think that had a lot to do with it.

    My brother-in-law was friends with the only elder in the congregation back before I became a JW. They went to sporting events together, watched them on TV together, they were buddies. Now ther were others with more years in the organization, more hours in field service, etc. but they weren't buddies like he was. He became an elder, others didn't.

    Right now it has been the same bunch for years. One new elder moved in from out of town and as usual he was made an elder here, but the other three are like the three mouseketers. The P.O. rules the congregation. One of the other elders works for him, the other one is number two's brother in law, and also works for the P.O. when things get slow in the janitor business.

    Are they qualified? One may be, but he still won't stand up to the P.O. They cover for each other, they cover for family and friends, and there is nothing anyone can do about it. If you complain, you are marked. Nobody wants that.

    These guys are ther for life, or the end of the system! They are not qualified to do more than give a person a few scriptures to read.

    Being an elder is a great responsiblity, and it is being abused by most elders. They can't counsel people, and they shouldn't counsel people who need professional help. They do, but they shouldn't.

    Just my opinion.


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