Rather than echo what has already been well expressed here-I'll make these few comments. Elders must become more approachable. I would prefer to suffer in silence than to have to deal with the outcome of seeking their counsel on personal matters. It's all a matter of trust. The shepherd should not be an object of fear.
Qualified to be elders?
Not bad comments at all Seven. While I do know there are elders that I consider good people, I trust none of them implicitly.
I don't believe anyone can get that high up the ladder without sacrificing principles that I hold to be important. There is no real confidentiallity or trust because they are obligated by organizational directive to disclose things that are of concern to other elders at the least. All in the name of "helping" you.
The culture of fear is really tired. Perhaps another reason for the success of the internet. Annonymity and immunity and freedom of speach.
Edited by - Pathofthorns on 21 June 2000 18:13:22
PathofThorns, exactly my point above, because of the fleshly, legislative atmosphere motive is thrown wide open to doubt.
I have to agree with 7 and Pathofthorns, I have never met an elder that I feel like I can talke to.
I tired several times, but it was like they weren't hearing anything I said. Their reply was canned. It was like they knew what to say, without getting involved in the problem. It always got turned around to wher it was ME that needed to corrrect my thinking, or just get out in service more and things will get better.
One elder I talked to kept changing the subject. I was pointing out the problems in the congregation, and he kept saying "yeah, but" and then changed the subject. I kept bringing it back and he kept changing it.
A good counselor trys to help who he is talking to to make better choices. They don't TELL the person how to change, they help them. The elders simply tell you what you need to do to be a better JW, and thats that. Then if things don't get better, it is your fault not thiers.
I thin it all boils down to what the P.O. said to me one day. He said "we have to think about how it makes the society and the congegation look." Doesn't matter what is right or wrong, just how it makes the society and the congregation look.
My father is an elder. There is a young couple (one year married), which has big problems together. He told me about. I asked him, do you tell them to seek for professionel help?
He said, they don't support that, but wouldn't hold back as well.
I couldn't emagine to get any help from elders, since I know exactly, what they would say. I mean, all they do is quoting the WT and Bible. And this adwise is really nothing new for me!
So I rather would go to a family councel than to the elders.
I have enjoyed this thread. Elders should be glad to hear such frank comments. Hearing them may not necessarily be pleasant, but good nonetheless. Persons willing to help others can do a far better job of it if they better know circumstances, perceptions, apprehensions, et cetera.
I can honestly say that I do not agree with each perception shared on this thread, but that is also part of the process of helping, that is the sharing of different views.
One area of particular interest is that of who is qualified to give advice. That really depends upon what sort of advice a person is looking for or needs.
Elders are not lawyers, psychoanalysts or physicians, at least not in their role as elders. There may be a few among us with such credentials, but when rendering assistance as elders they should only be offering only one type of advice, spiritual advice. If friends want or need a lawyer, psychoanalyst or physician then that is what they should seek out or be referred to. Since qualifications of an elder does not include qualifications in those aforementioned areas then elders cannot always determine when that is the needed area of advice. In that case, generally speaking, if an elder does offer advice in one of those areas then it should be taken for what it is, common. If an elder is capable in one of those areas then they should conscientiously and accordingly refer the person.
Elders are asked by the Society to perform various administrative duties, but primarily they are charged with being spiritual shepherds with the Bible as their guide. Since the Bible provides God’s thinking on important areas of life like marriage, divorce, honesty, human relations, et cetera, then elders will in turn relay portions of that advice when the need arises—at least that is what they should do. What else can a spiritual shepherd do but that?
Interestingly, the Bible does not mention any peculiar credentials for spiritual shepherds (overseers) except that corollary with Christianity and common sense. In a nutshell, elders should be experienced and good persons devoted to the interests of the Master, Jesus. While such persons may not have credentials in other learned areas, they certainly should be respected for being ardent followers of the Master and trying their best to help in spite of their personal limitations.
"Worldly wisdom" changes and, as history has shown, is not always correct as has been pointed out time and again in the Society's publications. 'Expert' opinions sometimes vary depending on the particular 'expert' you ask. The Bible's counsel, on the other hand, becomes a matter of interpretation. And interpretations change from denomination to denomination and even within the denomination over time.
There was a time when an elder would have to advise a sister to stay with an abusive husband because she had no scriptural grounds for leaving him. Today if he beats here severly she can divorce him but she can't re-marry. The Scriptures never changed. Incidentally, this change came without the usual tooting of 'new light'. There was a time when bestiality was not grounds for a scriptural divorce. Now it is. Then there is the matter of telling a married couple how they can have sex. There is also a strong warning now about vasectomies. A brother who has one may not qualify for 'exemplary privileges' under certain circumstances.
What are the elders to do? They are not allowed to read the Bible and interpret what it says on their own. You know, 'independent thinking' and all that. They are limited to what is published in the magazines and what is published there is interpretation and we already know that it changes. What is the solution? Whatever is offered will have to be an opinion...and we all know the value of that!
That's what I'm asking you now. What would be your solution to the problem? Please be specific and be constructive and positive. We know at least some of what is wrong, we want to know what would be right 'in your eyes'. At least I do!
-Seen it all, done it all, can't remember most of it-
I think part of the solution would be to require some sort of psychology course. The counsel that disturbs me most is the counsel given to someone who is suffering severe emotional problems or severe depression. Unless the elders can recognize the warning signs, they CAN'T give appropriate help, and lives are at stake.
They need to be able to recognize when someone will not benefit from the typical scriptural counsel and be able to refer brothers and sisters to agencies that can help them.
Ahhhh, the old vasectomy discussion. When I married my second husband 20 yrs ago, I had 3 young children by previous marriage. My poor new husband had never been married at the age of 38 (!!). He was terrified of another child at the time.
He wanted to get a vasectomy. He discussed the matter with 2 elders (close family members). As you said, Frenchy, they gave the same counsel. It was "frowned upon" for a man to do that to himself. He most likely wouldn't be eligble for a "position" in the future. Now, my husband didn't have a current position - but you never know when his independent thinking might go away.
So, I had a tubal ligation. You see, being a woman, I will never have a "position" of any authority in the congregation. So I can cut myself. And, by the way, that was their counsel also, (cleaned up, spiritual wording).
I didn't mind, one of us had determined to have the cutting done - but I was the scapegoat because I'm a woman and I didn't count as an equal in this discussion - and we all knew it.
I don't believe this discussion could be found in the Bible, why could it be found under discussion with the Society's elders?
Speaking of vasectomies,
My brother inquired as to one, and at his hall the elders said the "no priveleges" line, no matter the reason. In my hall, I inquired of an elder that had 6 kids. He told me that it depended on what reason was given for the proceedure. He told me that there would be no reprocussions in my case. So I did it.
What possible reasons could there be for withholding congregational duties for having a vasectomy? I've heard the excuse of how it would affect the congregation if they found out. What freakin' business is it of others?
One older respected sister actually told me to have it done because of the end being so near. She said this out of the blue. Evidently, she was telling all the other brothers as well. Some people have an OPINION and just run with it. Others, such as the elder with all the kids in my hall ironically was very balanced on the matter.