In a beautiful countryside surrounded by lakes and streams full of fish, a few local fishermen began meeting rather frequently to talk about fishing and the abundance of fish. The group eventually formed a “Fisherman’s Club” to define what fishing means, what makes a fisherman, and defend fishing as an occupation. Research began for new and improved methods of fishing. The club eventually developed a mission plea that declared “Everyone should be a fisherman and every fisherman should fish.” As the association grew and expanded to other areas, they started holding large meetings and conferences called “Fishermen’s Campaigns” where they would discuss and promote fishing practices, new fishing equipment, and newly developed baits.
One thing no one ever did, however, was go fishing.
    The club grew so much that the fishermen decided to build a large, beautiful “Fishing Headquarters”. In time, it became a large training center to teach fishermen how to fish. Courses were offered on the nature of fish, where to find fish, the psychological reactions of fish, the needs of fish, and how to approach and feed fish. Those who taught had masters degrees and doctorates in fishology. Of course, the teachers did not fish, they only taught about fishing. As a result, many who felt the call to become fishermen responded. They went on to graduate and were given fishing licenses. They were given salaries and were all sent out to do full-time fishing, some locally and some to distant waters. In some of the places they went, they built power plants to pump water for fish and used special methods to make new waterways for fish. Some of them constantly traveled around the world looking for potential fish hatcheries. Others decided they wanted to be part of the fishing association, but felt they had been called to furnish fishing equipment and baits, instead. Others believed their job was to relate to the fish in a way that would exemplify the difference between a good and bad fishermen. Still, others figured that simply letting the fish know they were nice, kind, land-loving neighbors was enough to persuade them.
The one thing everyone still neglected to do, sadly, was go fishing.
    Finally one day, after a prominent member of the club gave a rather stirring lecture about “The Necessity for Fishing,” one young man decided that he would go fishing. The next day, he returned to report that he had caught two outstanding fish! In fact, he was amazed at how easy it really was and that the fish were so abundant! The Fisherman’s Club leaders were greatly impressed and immediately honored the young man for his remarkable catch. Soon, he was scheduled to visit all the major clubhouses of the association and tell everyone how he did it. He was placed at the top of the lecturer’s circuit as a one having considerable experience. His memoirs of that day of fishing were eventually published and became a best seller. Almost overnight it seemed, he began to travel and lecture so much and was so popular that he had to give up fishing in order to focus on this new career direction.
    Now, it is true that some fishermen in the club had sacrificed and put up with all kinds of difficulties. A few even lived near the water and bore the smell of dead fish every day. Still, others had been ridicule by those who made fun of their clubs and pointed out that, while they may claim to be fishermen, they never went fishing! Imagine how hurt some club members must have been when it was suggested that those who don’t catch fish are not really fishermen. After all, didn’t the Master say, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men”?
Is a person truly a fisherman if, year after year, he never catches a fish? Are you truly following Jesus if you’re not actually fishing?