Learn to Fish Like a Fisherman

In Matthew 4:18-22, Jesus was walking along the Sea of Galilee. He saw two brothers, Peter and Andrew, casting their net into the lake to catch fish. Jesus went up to them and said, “Come follow me.” Jesus went on to say that if they did, he would teach them how to fish for people. Moving on, Jesus saw two more brothers, James and John, as they were fishing. Jesus called to them and they immediately left their boat and their father (who was still in it) to follow him. We can learn four principles from real fishermen on how to become a fisher of people.

Patience and Perseverance
If you’ve ever been fishing, you know that it’s very rare to get a bite right away. It usually takes a good amount of time to catch fish. The same is true in sharing our faith. We might share the gospel with our friends for many years before they accept the truth of the gospel.

If you are going to fish for people, then you have to learn to be patient and have to learn to persevere. In the case of one future pastor, it took a friend of his ten years of sharing the Truth before he finally became a Christian. Think about Jesus’ patience for his own disciples. In Matthew 26:31, Jesus predicted that they would fall away and be scattered. But he knew that even though they would fall away and some even deny him, that wouldn’t be the end of their story. He was patient for them to finally understand the truth. After Jesus’ resurrection, we see how Jesus restored them.

We can persevere knowing, believing, and trusting in his love for us and those who don’t know Christ. As we do so, we must have the courage to help change someone else’s story. Again, this doesn’t happen overnight. So, be patient with the people you share the gospel with, just as a fisherman is patient when trying to get a fish to bite.

Good Instincts
A good fisherman will go to certain spots where fish are biting and be ready to catch them. It would be foolish to go to a spot that’s known for not having fish. Jesus came across many good spots to find people who were ready to hear the good news. On one occasion, he came across a hated tax collector named Levi. Jesus challenged Levi to follow him.

Jesus ended up eating at Levi’s house with him and other who needed to hear Jesus’ message. Scripture tells us that Jesus didn’t call the righteous, but the humble who knew their sin (Mark 2:13-17). Sensitivity to the timing and leading of the Holy Spirit enables us to make the most of the opportunities around us, just as a fisherman makes the most of his opportunities in the water to catch fish.

A good fisherman knows his tools and how to use them. For example, he has to have a good fishing pole, but that would be useless unless he knew how to cast out his line. He has to have the right bait, but that would be useless if he didn’t know how to put it on the fishing pole or understand the timing needed for certain kinds of fish.

Similarly, Christians who strive to fish for people have tools in their toolbox. They have the Word of God and the Holy Spirit’s leading as their tools. Jesus said his mission was to proclaim the good news to four categories of people: the poor (helpless, brokenhearted, no wealth, position, or influence); the captives (unable to be free from bad habits, physical addiction, lust for money, and ways of the world); the blind (spiritually blind, unbelief, and prideful); and the oppressed (beaten and broken down by worldly authorities) (Luke 4:18-19).

Think about how he used God’s Word and the Holy Spirit’s leading to impact so many. He used the tools in his tool box, and we should do the same.

Knowing How to Work Together
It’s possible to fish alone, but it is much easier when you have others with you. When a fish is hooked, your partner can stand by with a net to help. In the gospels, we see how the disciples would fish together. Remember that when calling his first disciples, Jesus saw them fishing together. Later, when sending his disciples out, he sent them in twos (Mark 6:7Luke 10:1). We can do the same in our ministries today. When going out to evangelize, one person can share, while the other person can pray. Which of these four principles will you work on in your own ministry to fish for people?