The overseers in the congregation are responsible for shep-
herding the flock of God. This involves giving counsel and
administering discipline from Jehovah in a loving manner. At
the same time, the overseers themselves must be subject to
Jehovah's loving oversight, accepting and applying his coun-
sel and discipline in their own lives. To the overseers as well as
to all other members of the congregation, Jehovah says:
"Listen to counsel and accept discipline, in order that you
may become wise in your future."--Prov. 19:20.
The Greek word for discipline (pai.dei'a) has the basic
meaning of instruction, education, a course of training,
chastisement. (Acts 7:22; 22:3)
It includes the thought of there being restrictions or
corrective measures available to cause the disciple to ad-
here to the course being taught.
The word primarily relates to what is needed in bring-
ing up and training children.
Counsel or advice often includes commendation and
corrective suggestions and is linked with discipline at
Discipline from Jehovah is a proof of his love; when
accepted and applied, it leads to everlasting life. (Heb.
God disciplines his sons, even "scourges" them, which
indicates severity, allowing them to undergo difficult
Suffering is of value if it corrects a wrong or if it trains
us in righteousness. (Ps. 119:71 )
Suffering also provides refinement, as in the case of
Jesus' benefiting from suffering as a man. (Heb. 5:
Jehovah gives us much counsel through his written
Word, the Bible.
He instructs his people collectively, giving them practical
counsel on worship. (Heb. l0:25 )
This counsel helps them to maintain a good relation-
ship with him.
The Bible also gives counsel regarding personal conduct,
which helps us individually to have a clean moral stand-
ing. (Eph. 4:17-28)
Counsel is also received through study and meditation,
which enable us to discern the application of principles.
"The faithful and discreet slave" is used by Jehovah to
give us good counsel. (Matt. 24:45)
This slave class not only helps us to understand the
meaning of Scripture texts but also gives us valuable
counsel and suggestions, indicating how to apply Bible
principles so as to remain spiritually strong.
Counsel from the faithful slave comes to us through
Bible-based literature published by the Watch Tower Soci-
ety and through congregation meetings.
Helpful counsel is given on the proper mental attitude
toward our field ministry, spiritual advancement, per-
sonal study, cooperating with our brothers, and many
other aspects of our sacred service.
EXAMPLES: (1) Five meetings are outlined for us
each week, and we are encouraged to attend these.
(2) orderly arrangements are made for a local body
of elders to instruct and counsel the congregation
UNIT 4 (b) 83
and to minister to their needs. (3) Our Kingdom
Ministry suggests ways of presenting the good news
Appointed older men in the congregation must shoulder
the responsibility of giving counsel when needed.
This is an obligation that comes with their appointment as
elders. (Titus 1 :9)
In the family arrangement, husbands and fathers have
the responsibility to counsel their wife and children;
mothers share in counseling the children. ( Eph. 5:
22, 23; 6:1, 4 )
In our private lives, self-discipline is very necessary.
Consider Bible principles that would help you to disci-
pline yourself with regard to the following:
Work habits relating to both spiritual and secular mat-
ters. (1 Cor. 15:58; Col. 3:23)
Time management. (Prov. 26:14; 1 Cor. 7:29; Eph.
Keeping agreements. (Eccl. 5 :4-6; Matt. 5:37)
Recreation and entertainment. (Eccl. 3:1; 1 Cor. 10:
31,32; l Tim.4:8)
Sexual behavior. (Matt. 5:28; Rom. 1:26, 27; 1 Cor.
6:9; 7:1, 2; 1 Tim. 5:1, 2)
Unbecoming habits. (1 Cor. 13:5; 1 Tim. 3:2; Titus
Associates. (1 Cor. 5:11; 15:33; 2 Cor. 6:14-18)
Manners. (Lev. 19:32; Matt. 7:12; 1 Cor. 10:31)
Materialistic desires. (Prov. 16:16; Zeph. 1:18; 1 Tim.
Personal grooming and dress. (1 Tim. 2:9; 1 Pet. 3:
3, 4; 5:3)
Speech. (Eph. 4:29-5:5; Col. 4:6)
84 "Pay Attention to Yourselves and to All the Flock "
Elders are required to give counsel to individuals who
are seeking it, or they may have to search out ones
The effectiveness of counsel given can be determined
by the results it produces; however, good and accurate
counsel will not produce results unless it is offered in the
correct manner and then is accepted and applied by the
one to whom it is directed. (w77 12/1 pp. 720-4)
Counsel may be in the form of commendation.
If a brother is commended for the fine emphasis he uses
when reading scriptures in his talk, he will probable
give special attention to doing the same or even strive
to improve in his manner of reading scriptures in
Counsel may point out something to work on, or it may
offer specific recommendations or suggest remedies for
errors being made.
Care should be exercised not to get involved in handling
matters that are Scripturally the prerogative of someone
On personal matters individuals should make their own
decisions based on a Bible-trained conscience, but they
may ask elders for Scriptural guidance. (Rom. 14:1-23;
Phil. 2:12; 1 Pet. 3:16)
Married couples themselves should settle their differences,
but they may request counsel from elders.
Parents should take the responsibility for their minor
children, but they may seek help from elders.
Brothers having personal disputes may request that el-
ders help them settle their differences.
Elders may first encourage them to apply Matthew 5:23,
24 or 18:15, 16.
Elders should listen carefully to both sides and then offer
appropriate Scriptural counsel. (Prov. 18:13, 17)
UNIT 4 (b) 85
Individual elders should not take it upon themselves to
handle matters that ought to be judged by an assigned
judicial committee or decided by the body of elders.
No rules or set pattern for giving counsel can be pre-
scribed, since circumstances and individuals vary.
Counsel may be given either directly or indirectly, but it
should be clear and specific enough to be understood by
the person or persons needing the counsel.
Direct counsel is clearly expressed advice that leaves no
question in the mind of the person as to the nature of
the problem or as to what is expected of him to correct
Indirect counsel leaves much to the discernment of the
person being counseled. The facts or circumstances
may or may not be specifically stated.
Indirect counsel may he given to a group, allowing
each one to make personal application.
Questions may be effective in helping an individual to
analyze his own situation or needs.
Always keep the following recommendations in mind
when giving counsel (w77 12/1 pp. 721-3):
The person is one of Jehovah's "sheep" and should be
treated with tenderness. (Ps. l00:3; w89 9/15 p. 19)
If he has sinned, your endeavor should be to readjust him
so that he will grow spiritually. ( Gal. 6: 1)
Prayerfully seek Jehovah's direction, and give appropriate
counsel in a loving manner.
Be sure the counsel is based solidly on God's Word.
Take sufficient time, and endeavor to reach the heart of
the person, his inner self.
Take time for research, if that is needed, before you give
counsel or answer his questions.
If you cannot take the necessary time, it would be
better to let another elder handle the matter.
86 "Pay Attention to Yourselves and to All the Flock "
When meeting with the brother, take time to listen; be
sure you have all the facts.
Discuss the application of appropriate scriptures, and
be sure that he understands.
For corrective counsel to be constructive and effective,
all pertinent factors must be understood by you and the
one whom you are counseling.
The one being counseled must know exactly what is being
called into question, why it was wrong, and what should
be done to correct the situation
He needs to be encouraged to turn around and take a
right course. ( Heb. 12: 12, 13)
Elders should not consider themselves to be above the
need to receive counsel. (Rom. 3:23)
Regularly take time to read and meditate on Jehovah's
Word. (Ps. 1:1, 2)
Be willing to learn from your own mistakes and those of
others. (1 Tim. 5 :20)
We need to pay attention to the counsel of the faithful
and discreet slave and its appointed representatives.
(Heb. 13:7, 17)
At times a traveling overseer or a fellow elder may have to
offer counsel to you. (Compare Galatians 2:11-14.)
Individually, counsel may come to us in a kindly remark
from a fellow Christian, even someone not a servant.
(1 Sam. 25:23-35; Prov. 15:31)
Whatever the source, if it is in harmony with God's
Word, accept the counsel and benefit from it. (Prov.
(For additional information, see Organized to Accomplish
Our Ministry, pages 140-2..)
UNIT 4 (b) 84
Do not feel sorry for yourself and thereby miss benefiting
from the good counsel being given.
Jesus admonished his disciples to get the sense of instruc-
tion. (Matt. 13:51,52; 15:10)
Accept the counsel with gratitude, and do not try to
justify or excuse yourself. (Heb. 12:5-7)
Appreciate the Bible-based discipline received as from
Jehovah. (2 Tim. 3:16, 17)
A humble and receptive attitude toward counsel will
help you to be diligent in applying it.
Apply the counsel given; the benefits are great. (Prov. 3:
7, 8; 4:13; 19:20)
88 "Pay Attention to Yourselves and to All the Flock "