A Parable

There was a splendid fishing trawler docked at a seaport near some of the world’s richest fishing grounds. The large boat was well equipped with everything necessary for netting, landing, and preserving fish. On a regular basis, the officers and crew gathered for instruction in fishing theory. Afterwards they discussed with zeal and intelligence the various approaches to fishing. Sometimes they invited professors from the marine biology academy nearby to offer special lectures. Some maintained that the only way to fish was to anchor and pray that the Lord would send the fish into the nets. Few of these men attended the prayer meetings called for this purpose. Several argued for friendship fishing, noting that fish are easily frightened. Others held to the position that it is best to seek out the young ones, otherwise they will soon swim away into the deep.

In the meantime, day after day the other fishing boats went out early in the morning and returned at evening loaded with fish. The officers and crew often analyzed the catches of the other boats. “Mostly culls, easy catches of surface fish,” they said. “Their boats are not as sound as ours. Their nets leak and their engines are net kept up. Their refrigeration systems are bad, so that what they catch they can never keep long enough to get it to the cannery.”

Yet the trawler remained tied to the dock with heavy lines. The engines never roared into life.

One day, a young crewmember was called before the captain and the crew. He had been critical of the continuing education program and very frustrated by the ship’s inactivity. “Why do we always sit here tied to the dock? Why do we study fishing theory without going out into the deep? Why do we watch others fish and never fish ourselves? I know other ships are not as well equipped as ours, but isn’t what they do imperfectly better than what we don’t do at all?”

Some wanted to fire the young man right on the spot. Others argued caution. A committee was selected to study the matter. That was five years ago.

(Source: Letter from Ray Cortese)


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