For decades the Watchtower has told JW's that they must remain united with the 'anointed remnant' of the 144000. i.e. JW's who are still living who belong to the 144,000. See Mediator
Thus millions of JW's who are part of the great crowd, have respected and honored JW's who are still living out of the 144,000 who go to heaven, - i.e. 'the anointed remnant'.
JW's have obeyed the Governing Body of JW's because they thought that God's Holy Spirit was guiding the anointed remnant who were directing the Watchtower organization.
However in recent years, particularly since 2009, the Watchtower has downplayed the importance of the 144,000 'anointed remnant'. There are several reasons for this. Find out why Watchtower doctrines are changing.
What the Watchtower teaches about the 144,000