Jehovah's Witnesses accept Watchtower teachings as the truth, and make important life choices based on these teachings. When Watchtower makes changes under the guise of "the light gets brighter" some Jehovah's Witnesses rightfully feel disappointed. Rather than accept responsibility for the impact of these changes, Watchtower blames the attitude of members. This is highlighted below regarding predictions for Armageddon, as well as decisions, such as accepting civilian service.
Watchtower has made strong predictions for the date of Armageddon. When these dates passed without event, Watchtower shirked responsibility and blamed the attitude or misunderstanding of members. To see how adamant Watchtower had been about these dates, visit 1914, 1925, and 1975.
“There is no doubt that many throughout this period were overzealous in their statements as to what could be expected. Some read into the Watch Tower statements that were never intended.” Jehovah's Witnesses in the Divine Purpose p.52
“There were also other expectations concerning 1914. Alexander H. Macmillan, who had been baptized in September 1900, later recalled: "A few of us seriously thought we were going to heaven during the first week of that October. Had some been attracted by the thought of their own early salvation rather than love for God and a strong desire to do his will?” Jehovah's Witnesses - Proclaimers of God's Kingdom p.61
“It was stated in the 'Millions' book that we might reasonably expect them to return shortly after 1925, but this was merely an expressed opinion; besides it is still shortly after 1925. ... Some anticipated that the work would end in 1925, but the Lord did not state so. The difficulty was that the friends inflated their imaginations beyond reason; and that when their imaginations burst asunder, they were inclined to throw away everything.” Watch Tower 1926 pp.196,232
“So, as Anna MacDonald recalls: “1925 was a sad year for many brothers. Some of them were stumbled; their hopes were dashed. They had hoped to see some of the ‘ancient worthies’ [men of old like Abraham] resurrected. Instead of its being considered a ‘probability,’ they read into it that it was a ‘certainty,’ and some prepared for their own loved ones with expectancy of their resurrection.”” Yearbook 1975 p.146
“Ever since the 1870's, Bible Students had been serving with a date in mind - first 1914, then 1925. Now they realized that they must serve for as long as Jehovah wishes.” Watchtower 1993 Nov 1 p.12
“But it is not advisable for us to set our sights on a certain date, neglecting everyday things we would ordinarily care for as Christians, such as things that we and our families really need. We may be forgetting that, when the “day” comes, it will not change the principle that Christians must at all times take care of all their responsibilities. If anyone has been disappointed through not following this line of thought, he should now concentrate on adjusting his viewpoint, seeing that it was not the word of God that failed or deceived him and brought disappointment, but that his own understanding was based on wrong premises.” Watchtower 1976 Jul 15 p.441
For decades, Watchtower forbade Jehovah's Witnesses from engaging in civilian service. Many thousands of Jehovah's Witnesses suffered in jail as a result. In other countries they were forced to pay significant fines. In 1996, Watchtower made civilian service a conscience matter. Rather than apologise to those that had suffered imprisonment after following Watchtower rules that they must refuse civilian service, Watchtower claimed it had been their individual conscientious decision not to accept civilian service.
“In the past, some Witnesses have suffered for refusing to share in an activity that their conscience now might permit. For example, this might have been their choice years ago as to certain types of civilian service. A brother might now feel that he could conscientiously perform such without overstepping his Christian neutrality regarding the present system of things.
Was it unrighteous on Jehovah’s part to allow him to suffer for rejecting what he now might do without consequences? Most who have had that experience would not think so. Rather, they rejoice that they had the opportunity of demonstrating publicly and clearly that they were determined to be firm on the issue of universal sovereignty. (Compare Job 27:5.) What reason could anyone have to regret having followed his conscience in taking a firm stand for Jehovah? By loyally upholding Christian principles as they understood them or by responding to the proddings of conscience, they proved worthy of Jehovah’s friendship. ” Watchtower 1998 Aug 15 p.17