And Jesus said unto them, Come ye after me, and I will make you to
become fishers of men (Mark 1:17).
Our Lord spoke of His disciples "becoming fishers of men",
and this clearly teaches the important lesson that such are not born, but made. The word
"become" is in many respects one of the most interesting and suggestive in the
New Testament, because it always implies a process and a progress. Thus the Apostle Paul
urged the Christians at Corinth to "become" imitators of himself (1 Cor.
4:16;11:1). Many other passages in the New Testament similarly emphasize that the
disciples were not then what they ought to be, but were to "become" so.
Christians "become" fishers of men and this implies that they are not originally
qualified in this respect. What, then, does it mean to "become" a fisher of men?
In what does the training consist?
1. A fisherman needs WATCHFULNESS. Mark the alertness of the true
fisherman; always on the lookout for fish, and for the best ways of catching it. So must
it be with the true disciple of Christ, who wishes to win men for his Master. "They
watch for your souls" (Heb. 13:17). The fisher of men must be eager and on the
lookout for men.
2. A fisherman needs PATIENCE. How wonderfully patient is the fisherman
who remains hour after hour on the river bank, waiting for a bite. How utterly impossible
it would be for him to fish with success unless he had this element of patience. Much more
is this true of the servant of God who wishes to win men to Christ. "The servant of
the Lord must be.....patient" (2 Tim. 2:24). Men are not always won at the first
attempt, and any spirit of impatience will not only hinder the sinner from accepting
Christ, but will hurt the worker’s own soul.
3. A fisherman needs COURAGE. Sea fishing in particular needs very
great bravery and fearlessness. A fisherman often takes his life in his hands, and we know
from our own fishing industry how many lives are lost in the carrying out of this daily
task. So also fishing for men is by no means easy, and, as is well known, those who
attempt it are often lacking in courage, and they do not find it any easier even after a
long life of individual work. "For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of
power.....Be not thou therefore ashamed of the testimony of our Lord.....but be thou
partaker of the afflictions of the gospel according to the power of God" (2 Tim.
4. A fisherman needs TACTFULNESS. In the course of a day a man may
often have to change his method, and also to use different kinds of bait. We also know
that there are very great differences in fishing for various sorts of fish, and there are
other diversities, according to locality and circumstance. All this suggests the need of
tactfulness. When we think of spiritual fishing, tactfulness is one of the prime
essentials. "The servant of the Lord must not strive, but be gentle unto all men, apt
to teach, patient, in meekness instructing those that oppose themselves" (2 Tim.
2:24,25). Men around us differ so widely in circumstances, character, temperament, and
attitude to God that unless the Christian worker is characterized by tactfulness, he will
often do more harm than good in his endeavors to win men for Christ.
5. A fisherman needs SELF-FORGETFULNESS. An old fisherman has said that
one of the prime requirements of a true fisherman is that he should keep himself out of
sight. This quality is pre-eminently necessary in the soul winner. His own individuality
must be kept as far as possible in the background, in order that his Master may be first
and foremost. There is always danger lest we attach men to ourselves instead of linking
them on to Christ. "I labored.....yet not I, but the grace of God which was with
me" (1 Cor. 15:10). At the King’s reception there comes a point at which, after
the introduction of the newcomer, the one who introduces him stands aside, his work being
over. In like manner, in bringing a soul to Christ we carry the work to a certain point,
and then stand back for the soul to have its own private and personal interview with the