I grew up in Chance Cove, a small fishing village on the east coast of Newfoundland. I wasn’t much good in the woods or in the boat. In fact, my dad’s advice to me was, “Be a preacher, or you’ll starve to death.” The first four disciples Jesus called were fishermen. That says something to me about the value of the skills one needs to be an effective fisherman and follower of Christ.
1. Make Sure the Anchor Holds
My favourite picture of my dad is of him holding the rope to make sure the anchor isn’t slipping. When it catches on the ocean floor, he gives the order to drop the fishing gear. Hebrews 2:1 says: “We must pay the most careful attention, therefore, to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away.”
2. Know the Ocean Floor
Fishermen know the reefs and shoals. The Jewish religious leaders often challenged Jesus. He knew their thoughts (see Matthew 12:25), his audience, and the religion, politics and culture of his day. Jesus was close to ordinary men, women and children. For me, these things equate with cultural awareness.
3. Know Your Gear
Dad knew the strengths and weaknesses of his fishing traps. He knew when to mend or make a new trap bottom. When Jesus was tested in the wilderness (see Luke 4:1-13), he knew the Word and how to use it. We put Scripture into our memory and the Holy Spirit brings it to the foreground just when we need it.
4. Know the Tides
Dad let me tie up the boat one evening. I forgot about the tides. The bow of the boat was barely above water while the stern reached for the sky when the tides rose.
The tides were high in Gethsemane the night before Christ’s Crucifixion (see Matthew 26:36-46). What an opportunity to learn about the power of prayer by watching and praying with the Master himself. But, alas, the disciples slept through the greatest prayer meeting the world has ever seen.
Know the tides in your life. They are powerful. They are dangerous.
5. Know Your Boat
You need to know what your boat can take. How much it can carry. How to distribute the load. When to lighten it. When to give some of it away. In our lives and ministry, there is only so much stress you can handle—even if the cargo is precious, know what to jettison and when to do it.
6. Know Your Way Home
On the sea, and in life, sudden storms are unexpected and can be treacherous. You need to be ready for them. Keep your eye on the horizon, not the bow of your boat. Know what’s going on in the boat. Know what’s going on around the boat and know your way home. Every fisherman longs for the fishing grounds and the joy of a great catch. But a greater joy fills his heart as he enters the harbour and is welcomed home by family and friends. Make sure you know your way to your eternal home (see John 14:1-4).
7. Respect the Skipper
John 7:16 says: “My teaching is not my own. It comes from the one who sent me.” Don’t argue with the skipper in the midst of the storm. Trust his judgment, leadership and decisions.
8. Tend the Catch
You can split your fish and salt it carelessly, leave it in the sun too long or not take it in when the weather turns bad. But when culling time comes, you will regret your negligence, for only the choice fish will bring joy to the buyer and reward to the seller. Eventually, every person’s work will be tested and culled. Judgment is coming (see 1 Corinthians 3:13, 2 Corinthians 5:10).
How will your work stand up?
Colonel Lindsay Rowe is the corps officer at Oshawa Temple, Ont.