Posted by: everynation | January 26, 2009

Reflections from Galilee: “Turning Fishermen into Shepherds”

wsmleaderscircle.jpgby Steve Murrell

Fishermen and shepherds have opposite values and attitudes, but after 3 years of discipleship, Jesus tells a fisherman (Peter) to think and act like a shepherd (John 21).

Fishermen only value the biggest fish and throw out the small, while shepherds focus on the smallest and weakest in their flock. Because the Romans taxed the fishermen based on the number of fish they caught, seasoned fishermen threw out the small fish and kept the big ones.

In order to find 100 keepers for the market, an ancient Galilee fisherman might have to catch 250 or 300. For a fisherman, size mattered more than numbers. Big fish were important. Small fish were throwaways.

The attitude of the shepherd was exactly the opposite – every sheep was valuable, not just the big and strong. In fact the good shepherd was expected to leave the 99 strong and mature sheep and go after the lost. He was expected to protect and care for the weak. Before he did anything else, he was supposed to feed the lambs – the smallest.

Jesus started by calling bunch of fishermen and teaching them to fish for men. By the end of the discipleship process he wanted them to think like shepherds, to feed the lambs – to value the smallest weakest – something fishermen would never do.

Discipleship (carrying the cross & walking with Jesus) is supposed to change our values. Jesus never referred to himself or to God in fishermen terms. But he did use shepherd images to help us understand how God cares for us. Yes, we need to learn to fish for men. But as we mature in the discipleship process, we must also learn to think and act like a shepherd.

We must value and protect all, especially the lost, the young, the helpless and the weak.

Steve Murrell is a missionary, pastor, and the author of “The Reluctant Leader” and “The Accidental Missionary.”



  1. Nice! I hope you are having an amazing time in Israel.

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