One of my favorite book ideas was based on using fishing metaphors to talk about ministry. Yes, I realize that it is not a completely original idea. But I had planned to expound on Jesus’ creativity to use the details of modern fishing to illustrate strategies for bringing people to Christ. I was going to talk about bait and lures, weather, fish depth, debris, and many other things to consider when fishing.
Fishing is an amazing metaphor for so many things. There are so many small, intricate details that can have a huge impact on production. And I used to fully believe the old adage: “Give a man to fish and feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and feed him for a lifetime.” However, I never could figure out how to apply it to ministry and put it in my book. And then I met Ron Swanson, and he showed me how faulty this logic was.
First of all, I’m not talking about the selfish part of feeding yourself. I am really only referring to the last line: “And fishing’s not that hard.” When I first heard this, I laughed a lot. And then I started thinking about it in regards to ministry.
We build ministry up to include foreign missions, teaching deep spiritual truths, and sacrificing all of our time and sometimes our livelihoods. We make it sound as though we can only serve God in big, courageous ways. When we talk about ministry, we make it sound as overwhelming and intimidating as possible.
The truth is, though, that it’s not that hard. Love people, make just decisions, seek to grow closer to God, and you will produce fruit. That is ministry. Yes, it can take the form of something big, powerful, and intimidating. It can also be something small, subtle, and understated.
We should absolutely be willing to follow the leading of the Holy Spirit anywhere. We should be willing to risk our lives for the cause of Christ. However, we should also make it a priority to turn our every day interactions into ministry opportunities.
Don’t over-think your commitment to ministry. Just like fishing, sometimes it’s just a matter of being present and ready to react. Don’t be intimidated by all of the other strategies and adventurous opportunities out there. There are fish right where you are, and they need Jesus just as much as the fish on the other side of the world. Serve them with love, kindness, and humility, and your net will be full in no time.
Yeah, I think I got my metaphor crossed somewhere in there. I hate it when that happens. But you get the point. It’s not that hard. Love God and love other people. That is ministry.