How to Hook a Fisherman

10 tips for hooking a fisherman from Luke chapter 5:

1.  Go outside.  Jesus was walking down by the lake because He wanted to meet fishermen.  You can’t sit in your pew and expect people to come to you.  Venture beyond your usual circle and see who you run into.

2.  Start small.  The first thing Jesus asked Simon to do was to push the boat out a little from the shore.  Simon could do that.  Begin by asking people to do things you know they can do well.  It makes them feel good and validates their abilities.

3.  Hang out.  Jesus picked Simon’s boat because He wanted the fisherman to be within earshot of the sermon He was about to preach.  You don’t have to get in somebody’s face with the message.  Just get them in the vicinity.

4.  Stand out.  No one had ever preached a sermon in Simon’s boat before.  Jesus did something unusual and unforgettable.  Go ahead and surprise people with a word or an action that takes them off guard and makes them wonder what you’re up to.

5.  Expect a lot.  Although He started by simply asking Simon for a place to sit, Jesus had much bigger plans for the fisherman.  Suggest some outrageous possibilities.  People don’t mind being challenged to attempt great things.

6.  Use their language.  If Jesus had said, “Come with me and I’ll give you a great theological education,” there might not have been any takers down at the lakeshore.  But “fishers of men” — now that sounded interesting.  Use words people can relate to.

7.  Be generous.  Simon wasn’t too happy about taking his freshly cleaned nets back out into the deep waters.  Jesus assured Simon he would haul in a catch — but even on his best day, Simon never caught so many fish that his boats started to sink.  When you give more to people than you have to, it gets their attention.

8.  Reveal need.  When the fish started piling up, the nets broke and the boats started to go down.  Simon may have hit the jackpot, but it only revealed his inadequacies.  Whether a person’s security comes from money, power, comforts, or relationships, at some point everyone asks, “Is the best the world has to give, enough?”  Pose the question.

9.  Stay calm.  After the miraculous catch, Simon was pretty shook up.  He sensed that something was stirring beyond his comfort zone.  When Jesus comes calling, it can be a little unnerving for people.  A reassuring word such as “Don’t be afraid” is a good idea.

10.  Start with one.  Even though Jesus was in Simon’s boat and spoke directly to Simon, his brother Andrew was on hand along with their other two partners, James and John.  At the end of the day, all four men “pulled their boats up on shore, left everything and followed him.”  Invite one person to follow, and he might bring all his friends with him.

Fish Guts

the-jesus-boat-at-the-sea-of-galilee-miki-karniJesus didn’t put an ad in the paper, “Seeking 12 men to follow me.”  He didn’t go to the synagogue school and ask to interview the top 12 students.  He didn’t stay in his hometown and gather up 12 of his childhood buddies.  He didn’t wait for people to come to him asking to be disciples.

Jesus went out to the lake shore because he wanted those kind of people.  Fishermen were hard-working and strong, patient and determined.  Fishing for a living took faith — they couldn’t see the fish under the surface but they had to believe they were down there.  They had no formal education, no qualifications for ministry — yet were well-trained by everyday life experiences.   Fishermen were robust, hardy souls who knew how to work together to pull in a catch.  And they were fun.

I wonder what Zebedee thought the day Jesus came down to the fishing boats and talked to his sons, James and John.  There they were, father and sons, sitting in the boat together getting the nets ready to cast out on the water.  And Jesus offered the boys a chance of a lifetime — tutelage under a real rabbi.  Such an opportunity for simple fishermen!  The Bible says, “…immediately James and John left the boat and their father and followed him.”  They climbed out, waded to shore and were gone.  Immediately.

Dear Zebedee, what did you think?  Were you happy to see your sons find their destiny?  Or were you ticked that they up and left the family business?  James, were you itching to do something else with your life and this was your ticket out?  John, did you know deep inside that you weren’t cut out to be a fisherman?  Did you both feel like there had to be more to life than fish guts?

I hope Zebedee’s sons stopped in and checked on their father whenever they passed through Galilee.

I hope the old man didn’t make his boys feel guilty for leaving home and changing careers.

Jesus said, “Follow me.”  James and John said, “Yes”.  Pretty gutsy.