Are We “Fishers of Men”?
1 Picture in your mind, please, a group of fishermen in the days of Jesus and the apostles returning to shore after fishing all night. They had worked hard letting their nets down and drawing in the catch. Rowing the boat, often against the wind, was strenuous and tiring. But their teamwork paid off. There was a good catch and people were mingling with these hardworking men at the docks. Now there were fish to be sold at the markets. It was an exciting and rewarding time. Soon these men were ready to go home and get some sleep. But they would return again in search of a new catch.
2 A number of Jesus’ apostles, perhaps seven of them, were professional fishermen. Four of them, Peter, Andrew, James and John, worked together as partners. (Matt. 4:18, 21) They worked well together as a group and were very much dependent on one another. They had to be in order to succeed in their endeavor. No wonder Jesus selected personalities like these to be “fishers of men.” Do we today “slave” for Jehovah in this same way? It is good to ask ourselves whether we also qualify as “fishers of men” under the Lord’s direction.
3 While the work of shepherding falls primarily on a few, all followers of Christ are called upon to be “fishers of men.” (Matt. 4:19) How? By doing the preaching work and seeking out worthy ones to share in the separating work, which is watched over by Jehovah. In this connection we might ask ourselves if we are prepared to fish for men as effectively as we could be. Do we cooperate with our book study group, helping others to fish well or letting others who are skilled fishermen help us in our teaching and disciple-making work so we can have a “catch”? If we need help in our fishing, it is readily available among our fellow fishermen.
4 There are, of course, some territories in which the “fishing” is quite good and we usually cover such more often in our witnessing. On the other hand, all of our territory should be worked at least once a year. And whether there is an instant “catch” or not, our responsibility is to continue to let the nets down in all waters. (Luke 5:1-11) Just as a successful fisherman remains optimistic and gets real satisfaction from his work, so we should not become easily discouraged but look for opportunities to go ‘fishing for men.’
5 Speaking about opportunities, think of those who recently attended the Memorial. Many who came this year attended before and know something about the truth and Jehovah’s organization. But what can we do to help them grow spiritually?
6 One thing we can do is to call on these people without delay to show we are interested in them and that we want to help them spiritually. Encourage them to attend the meetings with you. If they do not have a Bible study, can you start one with them? We want to help these people now and assist them to see the value of associating with Jehovah’s people.
7 Then, during the first week in May we are asking the elders and ministerial servants to approach you to see how many you personally have been able to assist to get to the meetings or to help by conducting a study with them. If you have not been successful it is hoped that a visit from one of the elders, perhaps your book study conductor, or from one of the ministerial servants will assure these new ones that we are really interested in their spirituality. As Christ’s disciples we must prove we really have love for one another and for the strangers.—John 13:35.
8 It is good to remember that the One in charge of all the “fishing” today is well acquainted with how much hard work is involved in getting a catch. He constantly commends us and rewards us for our participation in the fishing work. If each one of us does what he or she can to set aside time regularly for fishing, and follows through on every “bite,” surely we can look to Jehovah for his direction and blessing on our efforts.