How to Predict the End of the World
Michael

Income, Religion, and Jehovah's Witnesses

Pew Foundation recently studied the correlation between religion and average income. They published their results. Anyone religious dropped whatever they were doing to check just where they stood on the list. I know I did. Toward the top, hopefully. That's where I wanted to be. I mean, nobody wants to be in one of those loser religions at the bottom. If you're not making a lot of money, then....let us not mince words here.....what good are you?

But as I checked my ranking, I did so with trepidation. I was hopeful, but still I had my heart in my mouth. See, as one of Jehovah's Witnesses, I knew very well I wouldn't rank at the top. Maybe middle of the pack. Surely I must rate higher than the …....OH NO!!! DEAD LAST!! Well, almost. Right down there with the Pentecostals, who are slightly lower.

Oh, the dishonor! I tell you, I was absolutely mortified. I pulled the shades down, turned off the phone, and didn't leave the house for a month. How could I face anyone? I thought and thought and thought, but couldn't work around the disgrace.

But then I thought some more and I could.

If members eschewing Christianity actually apply the Bible in their lives, will that not, in itself, put them at the low end of the spectrum? Any number of passages advise living simply. For example, from 1 Tim 6:7-8

"For we have brought nothing into the world, and neither can we carry anything out. So, having sustenance and covering, we shall be content with these things."

Seen in this light, it's almost a badge of honor to be on the low end of the spectrum. It's evidence that your group really is content with sustenance and covering, just like Paul said. Yours is a faith that doesn't just shunt aside such verses so as not to distract from what's really important: making money. Just the thought that religious folk get smug when they see themselves at the top of the scale steams me. Ought they not be embarrassed to be there? At least, if they profess Christianity? And yet, for the most part, the blogosphere had it 180 degrees backwards: with writers chest-thumping for those at the top, and hoo-hawing those dopes at the bottom.

But again, it's not the Christian pattern:

“Stop storing up for yourselves treasures upon the earth, where moth and rust consume, and where thieves break in and steal. Rather, store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consumes, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also."            Matt 6;19-21

 


And


“No one can slave for two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will stick to the one and despise the other. you cannot slave for God and for Riches."       Matt 6:24

And

"For all these are the [material] things the nations are eagerly pursuing. For your heavenly Father knows you need all these things. Keep on, then, seeking first the kingdom and his righteousness, and all these [other] things will be added to you."    Matt 6:32-33
 

Other than Jehovah's Witnesses, is there anyone who actually does this? “Seek first the kingdom,” instead of “eagerly pursuing” material things, trusting that “your heavenly Father "knows you need all these things” and will "add them to you"? I've no doubt there are individuals who apply such counsel, swimming against the tide of their own churches. But are there entire religions who apply such counsel, other than Jehovah's Witnesses? I tell you, it makes me proud to be a Witness. We're all about seeking first the kingdom.

But if your main goal is advancing in your secular career, using religion mostly to put a smilely, softening face on that quest, you won't be attracted to Jehovah's Witnesses. That's not us. We “seek the kingdom,” acting upon such verses as Matt 24:14:

“And this good news of the kingdom will be preached in all the inhabited earth for a witness to all the nations; and then the end will come.”  Obviously, the good news of the kingdom will be preached by those who believe in it. Who else is going to do it? So we adjust our lives to have such a role, rather than chase after money.

And Jesus approached and spoke to them, saying: “All authority has been given me in heaven and on the earth. Go therefore and make disciples of people of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the holy spirit, teaching them to observe all the things I have commanded you. And, look! I am with you all the days until the conclusion of the system of things.”   Matt 28:18-20

You don't make yourselves wealthy doing that. You're not going to be at the high end of the Pew spectrum. Money's going to be a tool for you, not an end in itself. You're deliberate in your choices. You don't want your work so low-paying that no time' s left over for the ministry. But neither do you want work so engrossing and demanding that no time remains for the ministry. You maneuver yourself to get into that position. Believe me, it's a great balancing act, especially for one with a family. It's not easy. It requires planning. Some have even come to regret decisions they've made. But we don't just blindly chase after maximum income, putting material things above all else, which is the pattern of the Western world, if not all humanity.

For example, the Watchtower recently (3/15/11 issue) advised

…...Of course, God does not want you to be imprudent or irresponsible, especially if you have a family to care for. (1 Tim 5:8) but he does expect his servants to trust fully in him – not in Satan's dying world – Heb 13:5

Consider the example of Richard and Ruth, parents of three young children. ….“I had a comfortable life but felt that I was just giving God my surplus, as it were. After praying about the matter and counting the cost, Ruth and I agreed that I would ask my supervisor for a reduced work schedule of four days a week – even though the country was in the middle of an economic crisis. My request was approved, and I started working the new schedule within one month.” How does Richard feel now?

“I get 20 percent less pay than before,” he says, “but now I have an extra 50 days a year to be with my family and train the children. I have been able to double my time in field service, triple my number of Bible studies, and take a greater lead in the congregation.”

He's not worried about lousing up the Pew spectrum, is he? Talk about “counting the costs!” This fellow has counting down to a fine art. Does anyone other than Watchtower publish such counsel? You know religions embrace, if not sanctify, the pursuit of career...if for no other reason that they know they'll get a percentage of the lucrative income. But who actually encourages their people to live simply, besides Jehovah's Witnesses? Even our wealthy ones.....for we have some...the Pew figure is merely the average on a bell curve...are not gushed over and boasted about, as is typical in religion today. Like this fellow in “Never Forget the Door to Door Ministry,” who I mentioned in the post “The New Cool Mormons.” I know him. I've been to his house. His work has prospered. He became (I assume) a millionaire. Yet when the Watchtower features his colorful life story, it doesn't even mention his material success. It's not what's important. Probably the next guy written about didn't have two nickels to rub together. The focus is purely spiritual.

So, it's not so shameful to be at the bottom of the Pew list, after all. Rather, for a Christian, it's shameful not to be there.

************************

 

Tom Irregardless and Me    No Fake News but Plenty of Hogwash 

Defending Jehovah’s Witnesses with style from attacks... in Russia, with the ebook ‘Dear Mr. Putin - Jehovah’s Witnesses Write Russia’ (free).... and in the West, with the ebook ‘TrueTom vs the Apostates!’ (free)

Comments

denise childs

thanks for reminding me what a sorry mess i have become.as a JW i am regularly regaled with terms like loser from my wealthy non JW brother who as it stands never had a bad day in his life. he as well as most others in affluent west los angeles where i grew up, feel that religion(especially a losers religion like the JW folks)is for poor schmucks like me to use as low budget crack so I can get high on life and forget that i am after all a sorry loser. if they only knew:)i am forever grateful Jehovah called me and having a simple eye as we say is truly not for sissies.

tom sheepandgoats

No, it's not. Especially for those who come from relative affluence. Thanks for the comment.

It's all very nice to point to Paul or Jesus or to Christians of the first century, not many of whom were wealthy or powerful, (1 Cor 1:26) but the fact remains that benefits of a simple life accrue slowly, whereas high income enables immediate gratification. And this world is all about immediate gratification.

Thomas

I think the main reason Witnesses don't make much money is a great deal more insidious. For decades, they have been told that getting a college education is something that only the worldly do. This leads to a congregation filled with drywallers, bricklayers, and office cleaners.

tom sheepandgoats

These days, that does not seem an unwise strategy:

Testifies Mike Rowe before Congress: "Right now, American manufacturing is struggling to fill 200,000 vacant positions. There are 450,000 openings in trades, transportation and utilities. The Skills Gap is real, and it’s getting wider. In Alabama, a third of all skilled tradesmen are over 55. They’re retiring fast, and no one is there to replace them."

http://tinyurl.com/3esgv6o

And reporting on a study from Princeton University: "Forget Harvard and a 4-Year Degree, You Can Make More as a Plumber in the Long Run, Says Prof. [Boston University] Kotlikoff"
It's common these days for youngsters to graduate with over $100,000 in student debt. How long will it take to pay that off? Does today's job market offer a lot of hope for that?
http://tinyurl.com/3q73ne2

And, of course, my own offering:
http://tinyurl.com/yl3vb8h

Oraji

@Thomas,

Moses (Used to be a prince of Egypt. Became a shepperd)

Peter, Andrew, James & John (Fishermen) Acts 4:13 - "Now when they beheld the outspokenness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were men unlettered and ordinary, they got to wondering. And they began to recognize about them that they used to be with Jesus."


Paul (Tent maker)

Christians in Macedonia. In 2 Corinthians 8:2 it says - "that during a great test under affliction their abundance of joy and their deep poverty made the riches of their generosity abound"

Jesus Christ (Carpenter)

denise childs

i am a JW. I am a college graduate. I am a neonatal nurse. I am educated and...a JW as are most in my particular congregation. Many in my cong. own their own businesses. We actually have a real live Dr. too! Real smart folks they are. Why does the world insist on lumping those who love and serve Jehovah with losers. oh yeah that's what this thread is about. For a minute I forgot I was such a loser.

tom sheepandgoats

Well....as Oraji points out, Moses was a loser. Peter, Andrew, James, and John were losers. Paul was a loser. And even Jesus was....no, I don't want to say it.

ChrisL

Thomas's point led me to an interesting thought. It does seem like Jehovah is filling the congregations with just what will be needed after Armageddon!

Dave

My brother (a pentecostal) has travelled the world chasing rainbows his whole adult life. Actually it's the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow he's pursuing. During that time he's had 5 kids which has only added to his need for more gold. He's been earning a 6 figure income for the last decade and keeps telling me it's a blessing from God. This is what proves he has God's blessing.

During these recessionary times he's had to travel further to find his gold, meanwhile leaving his family behind even more than before fending for themselves. Oh sure, they have everything they need materially...

His oldest son (now 25) just got divorced after being married only 12 months, but not before they had a baby who's now confused about who his dad is. Since separating he and his ex-wife both have new partners and have both recently fallen pregnant again. His sixteen yr old daughter just gave birth to a baby and I don't even know who the father is. The fallout from all of this is yet to bear fruit fully but I can tell it's not going to be good.

What I don't get is: How is this 'mess' a blessing from God?

Perhaps I don't get it because I'm a simple loser like everyone else in this thread.

tom sheepandgoats

Is he a preacher?

"As Pentecostals tend to be the least well-educated group of believers they make a prime target for would-be millionaire pastors."

the above is from this site, which I almost included in my post, but didn't because it was already long enough:

http://tinyurl.com/3vj8jrj

The "Prosperity Gospel" finds its most fertile soil among Pentecostals, who collectively are the most materially poor, the site asserts (Wikipedia agrees)

So....is he a "would-be millionaire pastor?"

Or is he the guy the would-be millionaire pastor points to as proof his brand of preaching works?

Dave

He's the latter. He's definitely not a preacher, although he's always got plenty to say about his faith when you get him talking on the subject, which is fine and we have some great discussions. I've found there are many things he and I actually agree on, even matters of morality. (He's not stuck on the trinity either, strangely)
Yet he doesn't seem to have passed any of this on to his kids. His family seem to be mostly irreligious, unless you count Rugby (football) as religion. They're very devoted to their sport. Spiritually, they're like a ship without a rudder.

TC

I have done roofs , did drywall , Framing , insulation ( Yuck hated that job ) Electrical ,.....Hmmmm with all that behind me , WAIT ,....I COULD BUILD A HOUSE IF I WANTED TO !!!!

20 “No more will there come to be a suckling a few days old from that place, neither an old man that does not fulfill his days; for one will die as a mere boy, although a hundred years of age; and as for the sinner, although a hundred years of age he will have evil called down upon him. 21 And they will certainly build houses and have occupancy; and they will certainly plant vineyards and eat [their] fruitage. 22 They will not build and someone else have occupancy; they will not plant and someone else do the eating. For like the days of a tree will the days of my people be; and the work of their own hands my chosen ones will use to the full. 23 They will not toil for nothing, nor will they bring to birth for disturbance; because they are the offspring made up of the blessed ones of Jehovah, and their descendants with them. 24 And it will actually occur that before they call out I myself shall answer; while they are yet speaking, I myself shall hear.

Teresa

Mt sister is a JW & they say they don't beleive in the Government,military,etc...But she lives on Social Security & food stamps.If JW doesn't beleive in government then why draw govenment assistance HYPOCRITES !!!!!!

tom sheepandgoats

Jehovah's Witnesses are well-known for honesty, industriousness and diligence in paying taxes (render to Ceasar what is Ceasar's), due to applying Bible principles. Thus, they pay into government services (Social Security, food stamps, police protection, the courts, public assistance, and so forth) as much or more so than the average group. Yet they draw those services much less.

I'm not sure why you would look upon that as hypocritical. It sounds to me like a great bargain for the government. Certainly more so than mindsets producing people who consume massive police and judicial resources, while evading taxes at every opportunity.

TC

@Teresa

Life is difficult for anyone at times , and Resources are just that resources . The Reason We dont support Military is War , plain and simple as well as God's Kingdom is exactly that a Kingdom . If you supported the Military of a foreign Government what would you be called ? Traitor . But if you receive help is that support of ? no it isn't

I will give you another example , I live in Japan , and There are so many troubles here it is unbelievable , There are many groups working together , bothe Governmental and Secular community based ..... There are Events that are sponsored by the Government but are for the purpose of Raising money for the Earthquake/Tsunami victims ( Some of whom are Jehovah's Witnesses , would you deny them help ? Houses destroyed , Families broken apart lives ruined .....would you deny them help ?
I will be performing in one of these Government sponsored events in the coming months ..... Not supporting the Government but Supporting people .

Will I put on a Uniform ? No .
Will I salute the Flag , no
Will I sing the anthem , No
and that will puzzle some people , Good maybe they will ask , or maybe they will react the way you did ,......

Lack of understanding is a form of Hypocrisy . When you have the ability to understand but refuse to ,..... What are you doing .

Whatever religion you are you probably know the Golden Rule , "Do unto others as you would Have them do unto you "

Right , you know this , What does it actually mean ?
Are you able to do that , and does it mean , do unto whom you CHOOSE , or simply what it says Do Unto Others , ALL others . treat everyone with respect and dignity and care and concern .
So if your sister is having a hard time in live , so much so that she needs food stamps , Shouldn't you care more ? she is your family .

Here is a scripture for you ,
17 But whoever has this world’s means for supporting life and beholds his brother having need and yet shuts the door of his tender compassions upon him, in what way does the love of God remain in him? 18 Little children, let us love, neither in word nor with the tongue, but in deed and truth.

Do you have that Love ? no ?
Where is the Hypocrisy then ?

tom sheepandgoats

You know, I didn't realize that TC is from Japan. And I am from the United States.

Only 70 years ago, the U.S. and Japan were bitter enemies. If we two had entered a room back then, not being JWs, likely only one of us would have emerged. But now we are pals.

Supposing all citizens of the U.S. and Japan and the other nations were, at the time, Jehovah's Witnesses. How could there have been a war?

I don't think it's hypocritical to muse along such lines. Of course, JWs weren't the solution back then....nobody says otherwise. But they sure weren't part of the problem. If only other faiths trained their people in ways of nuetrality and peace.

TC

Well Tom I am not Japanese , I just live here Play music and record stuff for people .So two of us would have entered a room yes , but we would have both come out half drunk
Because I would have brought along a few bottles of stuff to introduce myself with !!

kate

In addition to being the least educated, JW's also have the highest rate of suicide and mental illness of any religion. JW's are on a dangerous and self-destructive path. Also, a college education is not sought only for financial success. It is meant to "educate"...a concept that is loathsome to JW's because college exposes one to other people & religions; it teaches one how to think....clearly dangerous to those under mind-control.

tom sheepandgoats

If the rate of mental illness is a bit higher among Jehovah's Witnesses than in the general population, is that not what one would expect among a truly Christian congregation? After all, Jesus [likening himself to a doctor] said at Matt 9:12 “Those who are healthy do not need a physician, but those who are ill do.

JWs tend to come from the ranks of those who are “ill,” those deeply distressed by this world's strife, greed, injustice, etc. This would include many who literally are mentally ill. Those who readily and comfortably adjust to this world's non-stop chaos are less likely to respond to the Kingdom message. become. Even if there were a higher rate of suicide among JWs [which I don't necessarily accept....you've provided no evidence], it would be in spite of, not because of, the Bible's teachings.

Regarding education, it all depends upon your point of view. If plumbers, carpenters, and janitors ran the world's economy, they might have figured a way to beat the taxpayer out of a day's wage. Instead, highly educated MBAs ran and nearly destroyed the world's economy in 2008. With few exceptions, this world is run by highly educated people, yet look at the state it is in. The world, collectively, has precious little to show for its brand of “education.”

Earthen vessel

In fact, JW's enjoy the best possible education available to anyone today, because it's education for life, based upon a time-honored textbook namely, the Bible. As scholar William Lyon Phelps wrote, "Everyone who has a thorough knowledge of the Bible may truly be called educated. No other learning or culture, no matter how extensive or elegant, can ... form a proper substitute. Our ideas, our wisdom, our philosophy, our literature, our art, our ideals, come more from the Bible than from all other books put together ... I believe a knowledge of the Bible without a college course is more valuable than a college course without the Bible."

Indeed, a thorough and accurate knowledge of the Bible provides one with a quality education that encourages individual participation, expands one's knowledge of the world around them, and provides one with spiritual values that can transform their life. It also shows how to achieve a better quality of life now, and in a positive way, affects people's outlook on the future by offering the basis for a valid hope that what lies ahead will be far better than what the world's highly educated have offered us in the way of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

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