As any JW male can attest to, there exists a pressure to “climb the theocratic ladder”. At first a JW brother is given small responsibilities like carrying mics. If he is responsible he is given bigger responsibilities until he is appointed as a ministerial servant and then an elder. Then as an elder he is encouraged to accept greater responsibility on the circuit and district level in the various depts. Also those elders who give parts on the assembly programs are looked up to.

The higher one climbs this “theocratic ladder” the more spiritual one is considered to be. This training often leads one to crave the attention or to desire prominence. Although the organization does speak against the desire for prominence, only when one goes against a procedural guideline of the Society is it considered to be a “desire for prominence” or a “lack of humility”. I have known traveling overseers who in my opinion showed a remarkable lack of humility along with a desire for prominence but nothing was said because they followed the Society’s procedures to the letter.

A desire for prominence was a problem for the apostles as well. Mark 9:33,34 – “Then they came to Capernaum. When He was in the house, He asked them, “What were you arguing about on the way?” 34 But they were silent, because on the way they had been arguing with one another about who was the greatest.”

Notice Jesus’ correction. Mark 9:35-37 ” Sitting down, He called the Twelve and said to them, “If anyone wants to be first, he must be last of all and servant of all.” 36 Then He took a child, had him stand among them, and taking him in His arms, He said to them, 37 “Whoever welcomes one little child such as this in My name welcomes Me. And whoever welcomes Me does not welcome Me, but Him who sent Me.”

This counsel goes against our human desire for recognition. I served as an elder for 13 yrs. and I can say that I felt a sense of pride when others looked up to me and came to me to ask my opinion. This pride makes it difficult to willingly accept to be lowered in the eyes of others in the congregation. To intentionally diminish oneself goes against our imperfect nature and hurts our ego, but it is exactly what we need to do.

When a JW elder or MS because of conscience decides to renounce his position in the congregation, he is not viewed with admiration because of taking a stand for what he feels is right. In reality it is the complete opposite. Those in the know view him as rebellious and prideful. Those who don’t know the reason for his stepping down view him as spiritually weak. The brothers at the Kingdom Hall no longer view him the same way. If this ex-elder later fades these viewpoints only intensify.

It has been hard for me personally to have the bros. and sisters think of me as spiritually weak, and as someone who doesn’t have a close relationship with God. I realize when my fade is complete I will have sunk to zero in their estimation. How true what Paul and Barnabas told the brothers in Acts 14:22 – “…”It is necessary to pass through many troubles on our way into the kingdom of God.”

Philippians 1:29 – “For it has been given to you on Christ’s behalf not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for Him,”

Our Lord suffered many humiliations (Isaiah 53:4,5). If one of our faults is that we like to be thought of as wise, strong, or someone significant whose viewpoint is always respected , we do well to remember 1 Corinthians 1:26-29.

Utter self-renunciation is a difficult thing to accomplish. Having no regard for our own reputation or standing among the people we have known all or most of our life similarly goes against our nature.

Paul was highly esteemed as a zealous Pharisee. No doubt he was thought of as having a bright future. However, because of knowing Christ he regarded his former reputation and standing as “filth” (Philippians 3:8).

If we are a servant of God, follower of Jesus, and lover of truth no price will be too high to pay. We will be like the merchant who found a priceless pearl and “went and sold everything he had, and bought it” (Matt. 13:46). I am determined not to let concern for my reputation lead me to do anything that will cause me to act out of harmony with my bible trained conscience.


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12 Comments on The Humble Will Be Exalted

  1. chris says:

    Great article Andrew,
    This back to front approach to humility has always bugged me. On becoming a Christian I didn’t expect to see the congregation run like a corporation with company men all scrambling to please the managing directors.
    For example, last year we had a visit of the zone overseer to our country and he gave a company pep talk that was telephone linked to halls around the country. During that talk several CO’s were interviewed about their circuits and I remember being disgusted when 3 of them glowingly thanked the GB for directing the preaching work. What sycophants!
    It seems these ‘company men’ have forgotten about the Owner and His Son.


  2. Willie says:

    The deeper one is in Babylon the more difficult it is to dig one’s way UP and OUT of Babylon. Babylon means “confusion,” and confusion is one of Satan’s favorite tools of deception. Any religion that departs from the Word of Jehovah God by having a Nicolaiten spirit (Rev. 2:6,15), worshiping idols, etc., can essentially become “Babylon”–confusion! Rev. 18:4 says, “Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues.” Once we come out of our own particular “Babylon,” we can be sure that we will be rewarded for our CONTINUED obedience to God’s Word, for Jesus said in Rev. 2:10, “Be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life”
    Thank you, Andrew, for this inspiring post!


  3. Alden says:

    Hi Andrew,
    I don’t think that the “rank and file” at the Hall will look down on you, nor would the true “insiders”. It would only be those who have an exalted opinion about themselves that could possibly think negatively in your regard and what good is their opinion anyway?


  4. A M says:

    Very interesting article I have seen how some elders view their privilege as more of a position in higher ranking and that is not the way it is supposed to be I have a direct family member who is fading as well and served twice as an elder for a long time and now is a MS and I can say that about half are not a judgemental as i thought they would be and still talk to him and come over often but others are hars and forget their imperfections and as u say “….to have the bros. and sisters think of me as spiritually weak, and as someone who doesn’t have a close relationship with God…” can be really hard.


  5. Ruth says:

    Andrew thank you for that article “The humble will be exalted.
    it is so refreshing to listen to the way our Lord has delivered his sheep into his love. Lovely to see into your heart Andrew. ( thanks)
    To remembering what we did in the Watchtower mostly were performances. Needing to be praised for all the wrong reasons.

    Now we are coming into the true glorious light we feel so humble. So shocked we all behaved the way we did? Desiring mans approval. We new no difference either, as the Watchtower was Gods channel right? We though we were so special.

    Why did he ever let us see the true light? “I know why” He could see deep in our hearts we truly did love him. He knew we could still be molded with lots of hardship and pain we could become his real children..The real children of God.


  6. SIAM says:

    Great article Andrew. I appreciate the insights and can relate as I see my formerly stellar reputation become tarnished as I stand up for what is right.

    Your Brother SIAM


  7. greybeard says:

    Great article Andrew!

    Speaking as a person who has never served as an elder. I would look up to you more for “stepping down.” You might find many like me in your hall. I don’t know. I could have been an elder easy but I always avoided that. I was told many times I would make a good one and asked, “why don’t you reach out.” My father was, my brother is, my X-father in-law was… I seen enough of it to know I didn’t want to be apart of this political group of men. Some were back stabbers. Some were good men. Personally I think you are much better off. I have always been in the “low” level of the borg. I couldn’t care less about what high minded people thought. I knew what Jesus and his father thought. I helped many in my “low” position and had many elder friends. Many who would rather vacation with me then other lofty elders. What does that tell you?

    Those who want to be first will be last. Stand in the back of the line, that’s my motto!

    Your bro,


    • use 2 b a dub says:

      Hi grey beard,
      I have been ‘appointed’ twice as an elder. Once when I was 25 and lasted 7 years and then again when I was 55 and lasted another 7 years. During the first stint, it was very ego building as many of the elders during the early 70’s were young ‘golden boys’. Even in the 70’s I had nagging issues but followed the company line and quickly dismissed them.
      You did not miss anything by not being ‘appointed’ as an elder except a lot of time consuming work away from your family. Too many meetings and to much organizational procedure talks at the ‘elders schools’.
      I have 2 younger fleshly brothers that are now elders and it makes me squirm when they talk about all the new and private things for elders only. It does affect a persons’ humility to be exalted to ‘elder’ or MS. I have met very few truly humble elders. Since I “stepped down” a couple of years ago after the ‘overlapping debacle’ only 1 brother has stopped by to see why I no longer go to meetings. We had a very good discussion and I was very honest in telling him that “I had lost my sense of urgency” which he seemed to accept.
      your bro,
      use 2 b a dub


  8. JWB says:

    Andrew, once again a very good article. Imagine having these sorts of articles made into Kingdom Hall talks! I think they would be very educational and enjoyable, don’t you think?

    Oh, by the way, someone spotted a rather unusual thing amongst the details of one UK congregation’s trustees. It seems some JWs like to remind others about awards made to them by the Queen of England. I wonder why brother Brown wants others to know he has an MBE, while brother Marvin (in Perth Australia) seems to have felt so strongly about such awards that he turned the Queen down when he was offered one?


  9. JWB says:

    Since the subject under discussion here is all about humility, I thought the friends might like to read this fictional dialogue I came up with, examining ‘the faithful and discreet slave’:


  10. DanielB says:

    Yes Andrew , we find a mixture among elders , don’t we . Unfortunately the erroneous thinking aspect is quite exhalting . Jesus knew that we would undergo the same things that he did , so when we are viewed by religious leaders similarly to the way he was viewed we are in good company . We need close company with him to stand fast with him . I prefer company with the “salt of the earth” . Thank you for another thought provoking subject .


  11. Alden says:

    Oops, made a mistake, Andrew. The “rank and file” probably will, but not the “insiders”. Hang in there Bro!


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