For those interested Askmeaboutmy_Beergut, who grew up as a JW in East Texas Piney Woods and went as a rank-and-file publisher to preach in Guatemala in the mid-1990s is writing about his own experiences here: https://www.reddit.com/r/exjw/comments/70qq84/my_time_in_central_america_part_1/
So you could sum it up by saying that you were a cog in the wheel of the Watchtower machine - just going round and round as instructed. Very sad! Glad you got out and saved your sanity and life.
Not only could I sum it up that way - I DID sum it up that way. My bethelite friend and I used to joke around that we were "nameless, faceless cogs in the machinery of the organization."
Not kidding we really used to joke around saying that.
Not realizing it was actually true.
What it's like to be a Circuit Overseer - Part 4
Preaching for 3 1/2 hours in the morning with no break. Heat, humidity and dust, what a combination. Studies in the afternoon. Of course I didn't realize this at the time, but the Knowledge Book is filled with false premises, strawman arguments, half-truths, omissions and outright lies.
"How do we know that the earth will be a paradise?"
"Why will all false religion, that is, religions not worshipping Jehovah, be destroyed?
Why should be be submissive to those appointed by Holy Spirit in the congregation?"
I had never heard of logical fallacies, and if I had heard the term before, I probably dismissed it as not necessary. After all, the Knowledge Book was so logical!
Anyway, I sat through thousands of "Bible studies". I would usually have the sister conduct the first half then I would conduct.
Thursday night was the Congregation Bookstudy and then my Service Talk, focusing on the needs of the congregation. Usually I talked about meeting attendance and service. Sometimes judicial related stuff such as behavior that can lead to adultery. Or getting along with others. Or being a good teacher at the doors. Or being at all the meetings. I tried to be positive. I liked giving talks, though sometimes no one seemed like they were paying attention. In my first years I served congregations made up of 10 publishers and we met on their back porch. No microphone. The kids would come up to the "platform" during songs since they didn't have a songbook and sing with me then go back to their seats. Later I was assigned to the big circuits with 1800+ publishers and 100 per congregation in big Kingdom Halls in the city. The problems were the same ones though, fornication, gossip, getting along, etc. Of course, those weren't the REAL problems. I couldn't see those. Depression, anxiety, giving people false hope, discouraging higher education, marriage problems, I contributed to all those problems. There should be no Circuit Overseers, they offer no real world help. I never helped anyone really unrelated to JW stuff. I mean I always brought stuff down from the States, once a brought two suitcases full of new shoes for the poorer brothers, the kids loved them. But it was for a "spiritual purpose." What a waste.
Friday Night: Elders Meeting
I used to make this meeting go on for hours when I was first a CO, even though we were specifically told not to. I was young, zealous, and I had a lot to share. I would go over stuff from my MTS course, trying to make the elders teach better.
I would also pressure the elders to recommend whomever I liked as a servant or elder. Usually they went along. If they didn't, I would normally wait until the next visit. I had a high ratio of my recommendations being approved by the Branch. I did have some mistakes though. I remember one brother I really thought was a great candidate for elder. He was 26, a pioneer, friendly, good talks, humble. I pushed his recommendation for elder through although one elder didn't want to. Six months later he was reproved and removed. Turns out for the last two years he had been fornicating with a pioneer sister. Actually, it was defined as porneia. They didn't disfellowship him because the next CO told me he didn't want to make me look bad. Yep, that's why they didn't disfellowship him. So the youngest I recommended as an elder was 24 years old. He was appointed and last I heard is still serving. The youngest MS I recommended was 18. He is now a missionary himself in another country and is also in the circuit work. I am trying to help wake him up with no success yet. One of the biggest things I had to handle was how soon to recommend someone after they had been reproved. Usually it was around two years. And if they were appointed then after a year they could be an elder again. So many times I recommended and saw brothers being appointed as elders though they had been reproved three years ago. When I returned to the US, I was shocked at how long they make brothers wait after a reproof.
But usually I spent the time during the elders meeting trying to get the elders to do more, give better talks, preach more, do more shepherding. And try to deal with the problems of sisters dating unbelievers, MS's not doing their duties, the KH in disrepair, dominant personalities controlling the Hall, on and on it went.
Anyway, tons of crazy elder meeting stories. I thought I was doing Gods will as I tried to make those boring meetings interesting.
You had way too much responsibility as a CO. No wonder you were on what I perceive as autopilot. It's like a parts manager or a manager in charge of ordering supplies. Just figure out how much we need (elders and MS's) how many we are losing, do the math and order the proper amount to replace what we are losing. You're the manager, the Elders and MS's are the product. The rest (judicial committees, elders meetings, counseling) are store needs, or technical aspects to be addressed. You could be a district manager for walmart... same difference, better pay.
Yep autopilot. I used to not even bring my outlines up onto the platform after a while because I had memorized them. Same with the elders meeting.
We had a CO once on autopilot during his visit he shows up for the Friday night elders and m.s. meeting and forgot his new outline and had to be rescheduled for Sunday. And then he gave the same public talk as his last visit. When he talked it always sounded like he had a headache too.
I never used my substitute. I used to give my talks no matter how sick I was, I had a lot of headaches. Sometimes I would vomit in the bathroom after my talk. The stress was bad. Always that burning ulcer. Glad it's gone now.
You say you let the sister conduct the first half of the Bible study - did you make her wear a head covering or was it more relaxed there?
Yes she wore a head covering. I never had to remind them.
Regarding the fornicating pioneer you recommended for elder and who wasn't DFed so you didn't look a fool - what about the pioneer sister he was doing it with? Was she DFed or did she likewise get a reproof?
The pioneer sister was also reproved. They eventually married and now he is an elder.
Once my brother was reproved to get back at my dad who was an elder. The other girl was also an elder's kid but her elders liked her and her dad. She was privately reproved, though since everyone knew everything, it wasn't really that private.
Yes the whole Witness judicial system is unjust, wrong and often manipulated.
One thing I always wondered about COs; are they aware of all the showing-off that goes on during their visit?
I mean, like meeting attendance usually almost doubles that week (all the inactive people show up and act like they've been coming all the time), the Saturday service meeting is HUGE, people actually stay after the meeting on Sunday for field service, etc. This stuff NEVER happens any other time.
I just wonder if a CO could get disillusioned that all congregations are that zealous all the time. Granted, I am sure you could see by the publisher records that the actual numbers are low on average, but still. Every week having a packed house, you could probably start to think the zeal is generally much stronger than it is.
We were always aware of the spike in numbers during our visit. We knew that wasn't the normal. The same with the elders preaching with us. I asked ALL the pioneers what went on normally so the elders who were making a pretense during my visit wouldn't put one over on me.
As far as meeting attendance, if you can believe this we actually checked to see what attendance the last CO had at his public talk. Then we would compare. I followed a CO who had huge attendances at his Sunday talk. I don't know how he did it. He was stern and strict. But they turned out in droves for his talks. I tried to be nice and I had way less attendance for mine.
Questioner replied: I think the stern COs gather the large crowds because it's entertaining. I know some in my family love the stern COs, because it gives them a chance to guess who the CO is talking about when he gets all "correctional" from the platform. "Who was that talk for? I bet it's Sister Gossip! or Brother Beardsly!". Etc. And, the good ol' "Anthony Morris III Effect", AKA- crazy and stern is entertaining if it isn't directed at you.
What was your defining wake up moment? Or was it more of a gradual process?
It was a gradual thing and I am working on a long version of it now to be posted later.
Regarding "I used to make this meeting go on for hours when I was first a CO" - I am so triggered by reading this, excuse me while I go outside and scream at nobody in particular.
Sorry man. I remember some of the faces of the elders who had families or long working hours. They were so tired. But I was tired too. I tried to show how we need to be zealous. Seriously sometimes I had 4 hour elders meetings. Not for a specific judicial matter, just going over recommendations and reviewing the congregations "progress." Barf.
It doesn't really surprise me with that appointed brother/elder having sex. You can really see the Holy Spirit™ in action.
There were always appointed men hiding their sin. We were told by the Branch to have substitute speakers ready for the assemblies since often the assigned speaker would have his conscience bother him about whatever sin he was committing and would confess two days before he was to give his part.