interesting EX-CO AMA ( Ask Me Anything) over on exjwreddit
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.
Is this the right place to ask a question?
Do you now feel ever that in all your time and years in the organisation or life ever actually find or have a real genuine relationship with God or Jesus?
I don't think you will get an answer to your question. What you see here has been copied and pasted from a different site. That's where the AMA session is taking place (took place?). You may find a link at the beginning of this thread.
Thank you Never A jw.. I asked him on the Reddit forum twice already. That's the only thing I'd really like to know regarding his entire experience. He's ignoring it. In fact it appears that my question has been deleted twice.
He did state to someone else though that he does not believe in the Bible at all, has only read it 4 times in his life never prays, nada.
I guess that answers my question. That not a single person in that org has or has ever had any kind of relationship with any kind of God, they have no genuine spirituality and their entire lives are fake, pretentious and vacuous.
All total frauds.
I'm satisfied with that.
Dis-Member: Is this the right place to ask a question?
No, I'm just curating the Q&A's into one thread here - on Reddit it is currently spread out over eight threads - the latest one is here: https://www.reddit.com/r/exjw/comments/71g0ly
FYI unfortunately is appears that 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 and who started to write about his own experiences - has now deleted and stopped his postings.
You mention a JW judicial commite is unfair... If the WatchTower is judging a JW such as happens in a trial don't you think a JW being under trial has a right to have some type of lawyer/attorney right next to him/her...
Of course they have a right to hate an attorney.
But the whole judicial committee process should not exist. Judging someone on whether they are sorry? Who decides that? I always tried to help those who had committed "sins." I rarely disfellowshipped anyone. But I was still wrong. The system is wrong. Anyone who judges someone else like that is automatically a hypocrite.
It really is amazing to me how some people will commit the most "serious" sins, even while remaining a CO, DO, or elder, while you have some r&f publishers who are suicidal over looking at porn or masturbating. That really shows the depth of how genuine people are I believe. At the same time, it's all unneeded stress now that we are looking from the outside in... It's just the WTS literally puts so many rules/stipulations on "normal" behavior that it's impossible not to be a hypocrite at some point. If you followed everything perfectly, you would literally have to be a mindless robot.
Thank you for your nice comments, I'm still trying to find my way, especially for my children.
Whether the percentage of those "sinning" is higher or lower among appointed men I don't know. Who knows.
What I do know is that the fact that someone is appointed elder, MS, pioneer or CO doesn't mean anything.
Some I am sure are extremely careful with their conduct in public and in private, in every way. And some aren't.
I know the thought of losing my position was what stopped me many times from committing "major" sins. I would imagine some appointed men are careful just because they don't want to be found out.
The issue I think is that we ASSUME that because someone is appointed that they don't commit those sins, and that just isn't true.
What it's like to be a Circuit Overseer - Part 5
I would go in early morning street witnessing. I know CO's didn't normally do that but I was so competitive I even tried to outdo other CO's by being more "zealous." What a joke. Anyway, I would show up at 6:30 am to street witnessing. The pioneers loved it when I would show up. I would make another brother take the lead because it wasn't a normally scheduled field service meeting with the CO. I would say "Hey, I'm a pioneer also."
Then we would have the regular meeting for service. Saturday was Magazine Day, remember those Saturdays? It seemed like sales to me, even when I was a kid, probably because it was sales.
In my assignment no one read the magazines, not even most of the elders and no, not even me. I just skimmed them. I used to read them because I got a subscription in English. Then I got lazy and stopped reading the Awake. And eventually I stopped reading the other articles in the Watchtower. I just checked over the study articles. I don't think anyone in the missionary home was reading the magazines except for one single missionary sister who had been there for 35 years. Of course we had our weekly Watchtower study on Monday morning, but other than that no one in the missionary home talked about the magazines, unless there was a first-person article and they knew that person. And the householders didn't read the magazines either for the most part. I mean, who is reading the Watchtower other than a few die-hard witnesses?
Saturday afternoon I would do a shepherding call maybe then head back to the missionary home. I would type my report. That's about it. Saturday nights were lonely. Sometimes there would be a party at the congregation I was serving. I would always attend that. I would stand around talking to the elders who usually looked nervous due to the music and dancing, there was always dancing. I could tell they were worried I would counsel them. The CO's there continuously counseled the friends in their talks about their music. Anyway I would stand around for awhile and then ask one of the single sisters to dance. It was funny. The elders would be shocked. I was the dancing CO who couldn't really dance. Some of the elders liked me but a lot didn't. They did complain about me to the Branch sometimes. They wanted the stern, strict CO that they usually got. They didn't like the missionary CO who joked around and danced.
The Branch liked me though. I was eccentric and I ran afoul of the rules sometimes but I worked hard and they knew it and they liked my work ethic. They knew about my dancing and my always talking to girls but I never really gave them serious trouble. They trusted me. As a result I received a lot of convention assignments and assignments in general. I was sent to other circuits to help solve problems. I was sent to the RBC to help speed things up, I was assigned convention dramas and convention chairman. There was another big project I was assigned to, but revealing that may blow my cover. Anyway, the reason they did that was because they knew I wouldn't take time off from service to organize and rehearse the drama or do any other project. I know now looking back I was part of a cult, but boy did I think I was serving God and wow did I work hard. I never missed a full day in 7 1/2 years in the circuit work. I often worked on projects until 2 or 3 am then up at 6:30 to get ready for preaching. I could have done some real humanitarian work as a young man had I not been part of a cult, I really worked hard. But all I did was damage. It's sad.
What it's like to be a Circuit Overseer - Part 6
But back to Saturdays. Over the years stories had gotten around about my playing soccer with the neighborhood kids while preaching in the territory, and my presentation in which I would invite people to be a "member of our church." The householders didn't mind that presentation in that country, they liked it. The elders hated me though for not following the Kingdom Ministry presentations. Plus I would give the kids money if they could catch an iguana in service and I would take it back to the missionary home for the garden. Word got around about that too. The big houses in the territory had metal doors and garage doors and side doors back doors and I would knock on all of them. The friends would whisper to each other that I still didn't know where the front doors were and I would feign ignorance. I would stop and try to make tortillas with the women in the street cooking them. Anything to try and make my life more meaningful and I liked to make people laugh as well.
And I tried to do what I thought was the right thing. Once when I was serving a rural congregation a woman who was a new bible study drowned. She had a seizure while doing laundry in a river. She had still attended her church even though she was "studying" with the witnesses. So after my Public talk I made the entire congregation of 40 publishers go to her church to pay our respects. All of us. We all went inside the church. I told them beforehand, no preaching. Just compassion. The pastor was shocked to see all of us and was very gracious. A week later the closet alcoholic DO made some negative comment to me about it but the Branch coordinator liked that I did that.
Oh yes, back to Saturdays. The nice District Overseer once told me, "You know if you weren't the CO you would be disfellowshipped because of the crazy things you do." He was joking, kind of. But he had heard about the iguanas and my odd presentations and the parties and how I would ask for meanings of Spanish words from the audience while giving my talks. He was cool though. He did always encouraged me to just hurry up and marry someone instead of continually "shopping." We served together four or five times a year and we got to be pretty good friends and on Saturdays when we were both serving a congregation we would work together in service and compete who could place more magazines. His wife was mortified and would tell us at lunch that first of all we are supposed to preach with the friends, not with each other, and especially not compete with each other. He told her that he was counseling me and that was his job to do that. She asked him what counsel, all she saw was us laughing and joking around. How does this look to the friends that the CO and DO are competing? She said I would be the cause of his removal one day. Her pretending to be mad was a riot. So I do have some fun memories.
But still, the fun was few and far between. Most days were repetitive and dreary. My clothes were caked with sweat and dirt, it ruined my seats in my car, I could hardly get my sticky, yucky clothes off when I got back to the missionary home every day. My brain felt fried due to over- repetition of the same stuff. I just felt like I couldn't think. And a few funny stories can't compete with years and years of drudgery. They still make me laugh though. I guess we are resilient and we try to look for the positive in any situation. How I wish I could have done some real good down there.
Every week was the same. I could hardly wait for the week to be over.
I'm sure many of the things you did would be extremely frowned upon even now. I can't imagine a CO inviting even a few elders to go to another church for a funeral. You really have a heart a good. Imagine if Jws now were more gracious and christ-like like you, stead of stigmatizing everyone as worldy and poison. There is just no way this could be God's organization with the way it is now. Everything can't be black and white, but for JWs it all is. There is no gray area.
We didn't go for the actual service. We went after to pay our respects. It was very well received in the community but of course the DO asked me if it was "wise" to tell all the friends to go into a church.
Questioner replied: I see now. I can imagine doing this here in the states and how much grief you will get. Regardless, you did the right thing.
Of course they have a right to hate an attorney.
Thanks for re-posting these on this forum.
So what is the punishment for a JW who visits another church and goes inside the building?
As long as you don't "worship" in there then there is technically nothing wrong with going inside. Many witnesses visit St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York, but not during the service.
However when someone does go in, some elders use that to give them counsel. No big deal really. But they make it seem like it is.
What it's like to be a Circuit Overseer - Part 7
The entire congregation would show up to preach. I mean everyone. Even non-publishers would show up sometimes and Bible Studies. I let them go out preaching to "observe." The elders and I would preach a little then try to resolve last minute issues.
Public Talk, which I hated to give. Boring and repetitive. Plus no Halls back then had air conditioning so I would be dripping with sweat by the end of my talk. Then a quick WT and then my final talk. I often didn't even use my notes since I gave the same talk so much. I tried to encourage everyone. I thanked everyone for their hospitality. I tried to create enthusiasm for upcoming assemblies.
After the meeting we would go in the back room with the elders and I would read my report and have them sign it. The report includes all the numbers, publishers, new baptized, attendance at meetings, accounts, etc. On the other side of that page were my comments. What are the congregations needs, what I did to help the congregation, etc. The second paper is the recommendations for elder and servant. I know that's all changed now. But anyhow we reviewed who was going to be recommended and then we all signed it. They kept a copy and I sent the other copy to the Branch.
Then they would give me an envelope with some money in it, usually about $50. Handshakes all around.
And that was it. I would drive away relieved. I would drive back to the missionary home blasting music in my car and think about my day off the next day. The other CO would usually be there already, drinking a beer. I would watch a movie or sports with him and his wife and another single missionary brother. Usually it was an R-rated action flick. We would talk about mostly fun stuff.
That's about it. Every few months we had Circuit assemblies to prepare for and that was fun. Pioneer Schools once or twice a year. I also taught Kingdom Ministry School for Elders. But basically that's the weekly routine. And that's what the dozens of CO's I have interacted with do also. Give talks, go in service, try to solve problems, and move on to the next congregation. It's draining. I enjoyed having the position of Circuit Overseer but not really the work of a Circuit Overseer. I think it's because you never get to see Armageddon. Everything we do is preparing for Armageddon and helping others get ready. But it never comes. So I drummed up enthusiasm week after week, month after month and year after year but there was never the fulfillment. There was some joy in seeing younger people become pioneers or servants or bethelites, and sometimes a feeling of having encouraged everyone, but that's about it. So I liked the position, but the work was drudgery. Weeks and months and years of drudgery. And you can't complain about it, because you're the Circuit Overseer! You can't even admit it's drudgery, EVEN TO YOURSELF!
I remember one night getting a phone call from another missionary CO, a married brother. He said he felt so empty after the convention even though he had given two talks, and that he felt the same after his CO visits. He asked me if I felt the same. I told him he was giving out a lot so that's why he was tired.
If Armageddon had come, then in retrospect circuit work would have been great. I would have sacrificed all that time for a good cause, my talks would have helped people make it through. But that's not what is happening
Now that I look back, I remember the strange feeling that I often had years ago, that underneath it all we had been tricked. It's a hollow, horrible empty feeling that I tried to push away all the time.
You know when I was really waking up about 5 years ago, I went in service with the local CO here. He knew I had been a missionary. He called on me to comment any time I raised my hand at the meeting. So in field service one day between doors I asked him how he was doing. He gave the usual answer about how great everything was going.
But in his eyes and in his words I could see the same hollowness I used to have when I was a CO.
I'm so glad I got out.
Yes...we all have been "tricked."
They watched R rated movies? The JW hypocrisy wheel just keeps churning!
We are glad we are OUT too. NEVER TO RETURN!