Admittedly, this is a pet peeve of mine. For decades the Watchtower has used anecdotes to prove a point. We do it a lot less than we used to, but we still do it. I remember many years ago an anecdote in which a householder rejected the kingdom message because the brother witnessing to her at the door had a beard. This proved that beards were bad. The problem with this type of ‘evidence’ is that it isn’t evidence at all. I personally knew of a brother at the time who was able to preach to a group of university students who normally rejected us, simply because he had a beard. The apostle Paul spoke of becoming all things to all men, but that particular piece of scriptural counsel didn’t apply to the use of beards apparently.
The fact is, any point you try to prove with an anecdote can be disproven with another anecdote.
Today’s Watchtower is a case in point. The article is “Of Whom Shall I Be in Dread?” Have a look at paragraph 16. This is a wonderfully encouraging account, but alas, it doesn’t prove the point that the article is trying to be put across. I can give you three firsthand accounts from good brothers I know, who are serving as elders and pioneers/need greaters who have had to give up their special service because they couldn’t find the work they needed to support the family. None of them has a university or even a college diploma, and because of this have not been able to secure work. One just lost his job of 8 years because the Institute at which he teaches is getting certified by the government and cannot employ instructors who do not have a college diploma, even though they consider him one of their best teachers.
They will all survive of course, because Jehovah always provides for those of his servants who are faithful. However, they are not able to engage in the kind of service to Jehovah that they wish because of their lack of education. In one case a brother in his 60s who has been pioneering for a number of years along with his wife and is currently serving as an elder in a foreign language congregation has, after 4 years of trying, been forced to give up the effort to secure part-time work and has taken on a full-time job to provide for his wife and himself.
Today’s Watchtower would only leave him feeling depressed and wondering why Jehovah didn’t provide for him as he did for the brother mentioned in paragraph 16? We seem to have rose-colored glasses on whenever were speaking of pioneering. We freely admit that even though Jehovah answers all prayers, sometimes the answer is No. However, the exception to this must be pioneering if we are to continue supporting it is we do. In other words if you ask Jehovah to provide a means for you to pioneer, you will never get a negative answer from him. Sure, we can come up with all manner of anecdotes to prove that point, but it only takes one where that didn’t happen to show that it just isn’t an accurate assumption. If I can name three such examples just off the top of my head, then how many more are there out there? Tens of thousands? Hundreds of thousands?
Of course, Jehovah can provide for anyone, and in any way he wishes. He could have us all pioneering if he wished. He could make the rocks do the preaching work for that matter. For some reason, he chooses to support some in this role in life, while others do not get that support. We discern his will not by wishing it to be a certain way, but by observing the outworking of it in our lives. We look for the leading of the Holy Spirit. It leads us. We do not lead it.
So could we please stop using anecdotes to try to prove our pet point of the moment, and instead use them to provide some encouragement, while at the same time, qualifying them within the same article so that the reader gets a reality check, and understand the limitations of what is being suggested?