What is a minister of the Gospel? The most common answers include models like Shepherd, Servant, Preacher, Theologian, Teacher, Counselor, Leader, and so on.

But one model that’s rarely thought about or spoken about today is the first model that Jesus used – Fisherman (Matt. 4:19).

My favorite hobby probably biases me here but I believe fishing for souls is one of the most powerful models of Christian ministry and must be re-prioritized. It’s such a perfect metaphor for both the fish (sinners) and the fishermen (pastors/witnesses) that I’ll leave you to make the obvious applications.

The Fish

Fish love water: They are comfortable there, have no desire to leave it, and will stay there even if the water is polluted and is killing them.

Fish are suspicious: They are wary, sensitive, fearful, easily spooked, and spend their life hiding.

Fish fight: They fight with passion when caught, even after being caught, and even with their last breath.

Fish are frustrating: They are unpredictable, annoying, baffling, discouraging, and even depressing.

Fish are worth catching: But when caught, what satisfaction, what enjoyment, what memories, what tales!

The Fishermen

Out of my well-justified fear of all female anglers, including my wife, please take all male pronouns in the generic sense of “humanity.”

Passionate: He loves fish and loves to catch fish. It’s all his one-track mind thinks about.

Optimistic: He goes out expecting to catch and confident of catching no matter how misplaced his confidence seems to others (especially his wife).

Opportunistic: He looks for every little window of opportunity to get to the river or the lake. He keeps his tackle handy so that every time he passes a stretch of water that looks promising he can take the chance.

Equipped: He has a good, large, and strong net with no holes in it.

Skillful: He acquires many different skills and learns many different techniques and tactics

Sensitive: He has a sixth sense, an inexplicable feeling about just when and where the fish are about to bite. This is not about intelligence or education – it’s usually the result of long years of experience.

Sacrificial: He gives up time and money to fish. He gets up early and stays out late. He invests in equipment and training

Courageous: Sometimes he has to go into difficult and dangerous places to catch the biggest fish.

Patient: He spends time casting, casting, casting, even when the fish keep swimming away.

Persevering: He goes back time and again, even when he’s failed many times before, even when everyone tells him it’s useless.

Prayerful: He knows that only God can put fish in his net.

Happy: He enjoys fishing even when he doesn’t catch anything. It refreshes and energizes him (John 4:32).

Successful: When he’s successful, lot’s of people ask him “What did you use?” “What did you do?” He’s happy to share his secret, because it is no secret. “I follow the Master Fisherman (Matthew 4:19). I stay close to Him, watch Him, imitate Him, love Him, and obey Him.”

And just in case you doubt my fishing credentials…

Fish 1

  • Andrew Rowell

    That is a beauty!

  • jasitek

    Great fish! Even if it pains me to see you in a Wolverines hat!
    Such is life for one raised Spartan!

    • David Murray

      Please forgive me. I forgot my hat that day and it was all I could find in the dollar store. I’m MSU through and through!

      • jasitek

        A great burden has been lifted from my shoulders!

  • Matt Holst

    Nice David. I am a frustrated fisherman and a frustrated fisher of men.

  • Pingback: Links I like


  • William McQuade

    I heard a sermon illustration once about fishing for men. It went something like “There are two kinds of fishing,one with nets and the other with rod and line. The one catches many and the other catches one at a time. God may not be calling you to be a net fisherman but he may call you to tie on a fly and cast it upon the water in the hope of catching one sinner at a time. I liked that illustration because it resonated with my own love for fly fishing.

  • Geoff B.

    Appreciate the thoughts in this article – curious though – what did use in this picture – good bait or photoshop? :)

  • Pingback: Monday Challenge 3.10.14 – Challenging Your Kids, Aging Pastors and Churches

  • Pingback: Around The Web | Jeff Kennon

  • David Antonini

    I wonder of framing the discussion thusly objectifies unbelievers as objects to be tricked and caught. I know Jesus used the term, that was just the first thought when I read this. I guess becuase it also frames the sinner as ‘the other’ rather than as fellow men like us.