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Thursday, May 19, 2011

Teach a Man to Fish


After Jesus had concluded his speaking tour on “How to be a Fisherman” by the Sea of Galilee, He left to perform other miracles and spread his heavenly message elsewhere. One enterprising, young man who learned from Him, saw a chance to monetize this new-found knowledge. Instead of becoming a simple fisherman such as the other fellows, a seemingly better idea took shape in his head.

He purchased a small boat, fishing net and other gear, put everything on a donkey-cart and set out to locate a lakeshore further away. After a few days of wondering, he finally found a great spot in a quiet cove with large, shady trees. He unloaded all the gear from the cart and fashioned a large sign with a piece of canvas, on which he painted the words, “LEARN TO FISH HERE.”

Later that day an old man came by on his donkey. He stopped at the unusual sight of a young man sitting under a large banner by the lake, next to a pile of strange objects. He read the sign, looked at the young man and began to ask questions. He lamented about how poor he was, had a large family to feed and how he always wanted to learn a trade. The young man, jumping at the chance, told him very confidently that he was the Owner of this new school and he could teach him to become a fisherman in a matter of days.

But how can I pay you,” asked the old man, “I have no money, at all.”
You can pay me with the fish you catch,” answered the enterprising young man, who now called himself the Owner.
Very well,” said the man with a faint light of hope in his old eyes. “When can I start?”
You may start right now!”

By pointing at each pieces of gear, the Owner explained to the old man how to use the boat, the oars and the net. After this short lesson, he simply pointed to a spot in the lake. "Go out and start fishing," he said.

They dragged the boat into the water, the old man climbed in and began flailing awkwardly with the oars. "Not like that, ... like this!" The Owner mimicked the proper way of using the paddles. After the initial difficulty with the boat, the old man eventually made it out far enough. He also struggled with the tangled up net but later with a bit of effort, he managed to cast it out, too. He spent the entire day working very hard but by the evening his trials paid off. When he paddled back to shore at sunset, the boat was loaded down with fish. As fatigued as he was from his very first day as a fisherman, he felt a real pride about the fruit of his labor.


The Owner took two-third of the catch, but the old man still had plenty to feed his family. He got on the back of his donkey with baskets of fish and as he cheerfully waved goodbye, he promised to return for more lessons next day.

The Owner had several basketful of fish of his own, which he had to sell quickly. He put the catch on the cart and rode to a dusty, trading town an hour away, by the crossing of two roads. As he left his Fisherman School by the lakeshore, he suddenly became very concerned about all the gear. He realized that he needed a Manager to look after and run the school.


After getting to town in the evening, the young man asked around a bit. First he found a fishmonger where he could leave his catch, then headed straight to a popular tavern, in hope of quickly finding a Manager.

In the tavern, after talking to many of the patrons (mostly tired and drunk travelers), he almost gave up hope when finally became acquainted with a particularly energetic and eager man. He was a tall, wiry fellow, who spoke incredibly fast. The Owner liked him right away. As they chatted about this-and-that, the Owner realized that this was an ideal person for his school. He told the wiry fellow about his business and finally proposed the man a job of managing it. The man thought about the offer for a minute, asked about the salary, then finally agreed to start next day. The Owner told everything in great details about the school and informed the Manager to expect an old man to return for more lessons in the morning.

The Manager arrived at the lakeshore by sunrise and took charge of the school. Being an energetic and eager man, he really wanted to leave his mark and thought of a few changes right away. When the old man finally showed up, he introduced himself with great vigor. As they walked toward the fishing gear, he had a small speech prepared about how he was going to take the old man's skills of fisherman to a higher level.


As they reached the boat, the Manager suddenly produced a very large axe and with a few, powerful blows, he smashed the vessel to pieces. He then pulled out his knife. The frightened, old man began to back away from him. The Manager quickly grabbed the net and cut it in two. The old man looked at him with eyes of bewilderment.

Are you out of your mind?!” His voice was shaking from the mixture of fear and welling-up anger. Clearly, he thought, this new person was crazy. In his mind's eye he saw his family back home, who expected him to return with maybe even more fish than the night before. They already made plans of salting, drying and selling his catch in the market. This was their chance to start a better life.

The tall, wiry man's voice brought him back to reality. “I smashed the boat, so, you may learn to build one. Also, I cut the net in two, so you will learn to be more efficient. I can teach you to be a real fisherman, the Manager looked at the old man confidently. 

The old man regarded him with silent disgust for a minute. “The hell with you,” finally he grumbled, shrugging his bony, old shoulders. “The only thing you taught me to go fish somewhere else,” he spoke in a resigned voice. Getting slowly on the back of his donkey, the old man finally rode off.

When the Owner returned in the afternoon, he asked the Manager whether the old man had come back for more lessons. “Oh, he did,” replied the Manager, “but did not want to learn the trade after all. Do not worry, though” he added reassuringly, “there are many other people who will want to learn. Many, other people...”

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