If it is worth doing, it is worth doing well. This general life principle provides guidance to all of us. This, no doubt, is also true to fishing.
If you are going to fish, of course you want to know the characteristics of a GOOD fisherman.
Recently at our 42nd annual trip to Kentucky Lake as an extended family, we all sat together and discussed the question, “What are the characteristics of a good fisherman?” The answers varied.
- Have the Right Equipment
- Know Your Target
- Know Your Surroundings
- Use Proper Bait
- Understand the Process
- Put in the Hard Work
- Have a Right Attitude
- Enjoy the Process
- Fish Legally
- Have the Right Timing
- Committed Resources
To catch good fish is not easy. Anyone can grab a pole and some bait and try. However, it takes skill, education, practice, and persistence to become a GOOD fisherman.
Jesus understood this.
Jesus chose fishing as one of his primary metaphors to capture the discipleship process. When calling Peter, James, John, and Andrew, Jesus says, “Follow me and I will make you fishers of men” (Matthew 4:18-22; Mark 1:17; Luke 5:1-11). When challenging these men, primarily Peter, to become fully devoted followers, Jesus called them from fishing for fish to fishing for men.
Jesus further described the discipleship process in three aspects: going, assimilating, and teaching (Matthew 28:19-20). Although not directly referring to fishing, it is certainly true that you cannot be a GOOD fisherman without first going to a body of water with the intention of catching fish.
The characteristics of a GOOD fisherman of fish also apply to becoming a GOOD fisherman of men.
- Fish legally – follow the rules. A GOOD fisherman understands and submits to applicable regulations for a particular body of water. This is also true to fishing for men. We must fish God’s way. Jesus says, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No man comes to the Father but through me” (John 14:7). People do not receive eternal life or become followers of Jesus Christ by creating their own ways or following their own rules. The only way to obtain eternal life is through Jesus.
- Use Proper Bait – the Gospel of Jesus Christ. A GOOD fisherman uses proper bait to catch the particular species desired. The message of the Gospel draws people to follow Jesus Christ. The story of the birth, life, death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus is the message of the Gospel for sinful mankind. Jesus willingly chose to sacrifice His life in order to provide eternal life for us. “Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned…For if by one man’s offense many died, much more the grace of God and the gift by the grace of the one Man, Jesus Christ, abounded to many. …For if by one man’s offense death reigned through the one, much more those who receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ.” (Romans 5:1-21).
- Have the Right Equipment – the Word of God. A GOOD fisherman has and uses the right equipment for the occasion. Likewise, a GOOD fisherman of men uses the right equipment. The Bible teaches that “faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God” (Romans 10:17). The only way to have faith is through the declared propositional truth of the Bible.
- Understand the Right Presentation – a spirit of grace. A GOOD fisherman understands how to present the bait or lure to the fish. Often the weather, water conditions, and species demand a particular presentation in order to catch fish. In fishing for men, we must also present the compelling message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ appropriately. The Gospel demands compassion, love, and a spirit of grace. We speak truth in love (Ephesians 4:15). In the process we choose our words wisely, choose the timing of our conversation wisely, and choose the particular aspect of the Gospel to highlight wisely.
- Have the Right Attitude – go with anticipation. A GOOD fisherman fishes with anticipation of catching fish. It makes it extremely hard to catch fish without the right attitude. This is also true to catching men. We share the Gospel with anticipation of God using our meager efforts to draw people to Himself (John 6:44). As we seek to present Christ to others, we recognize that ultimately God is the One who draws people to Himself. So regardless of the person, we share Christ resting in God’s grace and mercy to bring salvation (Ephesians 2:1-10). Only the Spirit of God can do the work of salvation in another person’s heart (John 16:8).
A GOOD fisherman actually fishes.
It is not enough to just talk about fishing, learn about fishing, or desire to fish. To be a GOOD fisherman, you must actually do something. You must wet a hook – engage in the process of fishing. Peter and the other disciples understood this when Jesus told them to cast their net on the right side of the boat (John 21:6). They caught an incredible amount of fish – impossible though unless they had been willing to actually cast the net. Likewise, we all must cast the net as GOOD fishermen of men. Your neighbor, coworker, family member, or anyone with whom you come into contact need the message of Jesus Christ for salvation. Opportunities are everywhere. We must take advantage of those opportunities and lovingly share the great news of the Gospel.
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What other ways can you think of that correlates well the ideas of being GOOD fishermen of fish and men?
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