By James Halfhill

I recently heard someone say that we spend too much time chasing small fish. Small fish are those ever-elusive people who we try to get into our corner but never seem to be content. It’s funny how we spend so much time in our ministry trying to chase these small fish, but no matter how much we try we’ll never get them to change their minds, agree with our perspectives, or ever buy into our vision These fish tend to distract us from the direction God is pointing us to, and they hold us back for the journey in front of us.

Yet, we’re convinced that we must torture ourselves into trying. We expel great energy, time, and patience to earn their support—but in the end we still find ourselves frustrated because they’re still elusive.
Small fish are single-minded, closed to the ideas that you’re trying to express. They tend to be the ones who complain, but are never the ones who step up and attempt to find a solution, or even help. Small fish come in many different shapes and forms, they can look like a teenager, a parent, a staff member, or that little old lady who thinks the youth destroyed the carpet in the foyer during the last lock-in. These fish tend to distract us from the direction God is pointing us to, and they hold us back for the journey in front of us. It’s hard to walk away, its difficult to stop trying to catch that elusive fish but we need to for the health of your ministry, and you personally.

The question we must ask is why, why do we expel so much energy trying to capture these small fish? Is it rooted in a lack of self esteem, or maybe the need to please people? No matter the reason, the only thing we end up doing is wasting a tremendous amount of energy in accomplishing something that will never be done. So how do we reach a place of harmony in a world of small fish? It starts with us. It starts with being secure in your vision, your ministry, and most importantly, your relationships. We must be willing to sacrifice our insecurity for trust. We must trust God to deal with our small fish. We must be willing to hand over those fish and swim away. There are schools of fish that are not elusive but swimming around and looking for us to come and lead them. They are the fish that no matter what they are excited by your vision, your direction, and have joined in the journey to God’s path in front of you. We must be willing to place our time and energy into the fish that will swim with us, that will follow the direction we’ve prayed so hard for, and the vision we’re so convinced God has given us.

If we look to the scriptures, we see that Jesus didn’t chase small fish. In the face of his accusers he remained silent. To Pilate a simple answer. To the religious leaders a rebuke. But to those who grasped his vision, grasped who he was, he became their leader. He poured into them, loved them, empowered them, and sent them out to duplicate the pattern. He refused to chase the small fish, he refused to expel the energy to change the minds of people he knew didn’t get it and—wouldn’t. I know that this seems contra to what we think of him, but the truth is he left the small fish alone and focused on the ones that would swim with him.

If we’re to grow both in our ministry and in our personal lives, we must be willing to acknowledge that we have small fish in our lives. We must also be willing to trust God and those other leaders around us to deal with our small fish. It’s always our hope that the small fish will join in the school of others and swim with us, but we cannot continue to spend all our time trying to capture that elusive small fish that saps the energy, joy, and passion for the ministry God has placed before us. Be a leader and lead. Leave the small fish to the one who is the master of fishing.