One of my dad’s favorite pastimes was fishing. He rarely caught anything big, but he loved to go to the lake or a river, or a stream, and “drown a worm.” I have a nice bass on my wall that was caught with my dad on Watauga Lake in East Tennessee. I cherish the memory of that experience.
One day, Dad went fishing without me. He called later to tell me about his fishing trip and said, “I out-fished you today.”
I said, “Really? What did you catch, Dad?”
You could hear the excitement in his voice as he said, “It was the biggest fish I ever caught — a guy named Steve. I led him to the Lord while we were on the lake!”
My dad was not a pastor. He was an appliance repairman. He also happened to be a fisher of men.
Here’s the amazing thing: Dad didn’t finish high school or go to college, or to seminary. He wasn’t raised in church, and he wasn’t saved until he was a young adult.
However, one day Dad started following Jesus, and over time he began to tell people how they could know Jesus, too.
The day that Dad first talked to me about Jesus is still vivid in my mind. We were at the corner of Broadway and Main streets in Johnson City, Tenn., as we sat at a red light. As my father explained the gospel to me, I told him that I had considered asking Jesus into my heart, but that I just wasn’t ready.
Months later, as we were sitting by a lake fishing, Dad asked me again about trusting Jesus as my Savior. I realize now that he was fishing for men while I was fishing for fish. Again, I told my father that I was not ready to trust Christ as my Savior.
Dad never pressured me into making a decision. He just showed me that he cared.
The Sunday morning when I did ask Jesus into my heart was a day I’m sure my parents never forgot. I sure haven’t, even though it’s been 48 years!
Within the Southern Baptist Convention, we’re asking a strategic question this year: “Who’s Your One?” For some of you, the answer may be, “My son or my daughter.” Here are four important reminders as you pray for and share Jesus with your child:
1. You don’t have to be a professional to share Jesus with your child. Yes, you can take your child to talk to a pastor, but if you know Christ, you are qualified to tell others about Him. Especially your own children.
2. Don’t be discouraged if they are not ready. Just the fact that you are having the conversation can be an important step in their faith journey.
3. You have more impact in your home Monday through Saturday than the pastor does on Sunday. Live out your faith every day and let your child see what it means to be a follower of Jesus.
4. Talking to your kids about Jesus is a conversation they will never forget. Over the years, Dad and I talked about a lot of things, but nothing means as much to me as those conversations in his truck and by the lake.
According to the Gospel of Mark, when Jesus invited the first two guys to follow Him, He stated His intention for them right up front: “‘Follow me,’ Jesus told them, ‘and I will make you fish for people'” (Mark 1:17).
Some of those people may be living under your roof. As you follow Jesus, prayerfully and patiently share the gospel with your kids. There is no better place to fish.
— Keith Shorter is pastor of Mt. Airy Baptist Church in Easley and a former president of the South Carolina Baptist Convention.