5.12.2016

Fisher of Men

Brenton loves to fish. I enjoy it, if the fish are bitting. If nothing happens I tend to get bored and frustrated.

I went deep sea fishing with my family one time in Cape Cod. I couldn't tell you what we were fishing for, but the fish we ended up catching were about the length of my leg. But we didn't find the fish right away. We had to boat around for a while and find the fish. We would stop our little 20 foot boat and try again. We finally landed on a hot spot and everyone had fish on. (We even ended up right next to some whales and got to see them up close! Bonus!) Overall, it was a fun experience.

But what I have learned at a couple different points in my life is that fishing is a lot like ministry.

I was a part of Younglife growing up. Both as a student, and then as a leader. (If you don't know what Younglife is, it is a high school ministry with the goal of reaching students where they are at.) We always met in someones home, at a school, or a coffee shop, but rarely at a church. Just like fishing, you have to find the fish. They don't just come to you. Jesus went to where people were. As a Younglife leader, I was required to read the book "Back to the Basics of Younglife" by John Miller. In this book he gives a history of Younglife and how to become a good leader. Chapter 3 is about the ministry's Scriptural foundation. In this chapter he talks about the difference between novice and experienced fishermen...

"...Many novice fishermen come to Colorado and scare away any fish before they even get their lines into the water. They just don't know very much about fish. Fish scare easily- movement, even shadows, near the water can spook them." 

Novice fishermen don't factor in their surroundings and what the fish may or may not respond too.
Now the contrast...

"A good fishermen has a well-stocked tackle box. One of the first things he asks is, "what are they biting on?" He studies the water, trees, bushes, sky, time of day, and then decides on the bait or lure. He uses it for a time, then if the fish aren't biting, he tries something else."

I love this line from John Miller, "More important than going, is how you act when you get there."
It is so important, essentially basic, to consider everything about the people you are serving and searching for.

The ministry I am currently involved in is MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers). It is an amazing ministry for moms with young kids. As a leader for this ministry, it is my job to understand the needs, desires and frustrations of the moms so I may better serve them. This is a little easier for me now, because I am one of them. But if I don't truly know the women I am here to serve, I'm up creek without a paddle.

Maybe you have heard of the phrase "fisher of men."

In the beginning of Luke 5 we find Jesus calling the disciples. Simon (Peter) had been out all night fishing with no success. That next morning, Jesus tells them to try again. Peter was a fisherman by trade, and Jesus was a carpenter. But Peter took the advice of Jesus and gave it another shot. He is faithful to obey and doesn't delay. They push off shore and cast out their nets. They started catching fish. So much so, their nets started to break.

The beautiful difference in this story (compared to simply trying to find the right bait) is that Jesus was the only difference the second time around. They were guided by Him!

Another key thing here is that they were fishing in deep water.
We have to be willing to push off from safety, push off from shore. Life gets messy, and when you become a part of other people's lives, you understand what suffering, sorrow, and loss looks like. These can be some deep waters. But this is why we are called to ministry... so that we can help carry the burden of our brothers and sisters.

Ministry can be frustrating at times. Especially when the fish won't bite. But I encourage you to consider your tactics (or tackle, if I may), and fully surrender it. And maybe if you aren't in a ministry, but feel like God has called you into service somehow... consider what boat he might be asking you to step into and push off in faith.

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