But from your wife's point of view: If you give a man a fish, he'll want fries and a beer with it. And if you teach a man to fish, he'll go out and buy a stupid looking hat, hang hooks and shinny things all around it, spend a fortune on reels, rods, depth finders and a two seat'er boat - that at the end of the day - is littered with empty beer cans and little else.
Both phrases within this proverb are true and capable of standing alone. Both statements dispense logical wisdom, but together, they complete a profound sense of enlightenment and maturity. As parents, both mothers and fathers, we understand the concept behind and the need for serving as the provider for those unable to help themselves. I’m talking about our kids right now. When they are babies they are completely dependent upon us to feed them, change them and care for them. As they grow older and become more capable of providing for themselves, we need to give them the room to own the task and be accountable for their decisions and their actions. In doing so, opportunities to “teach” will abound.
But if we have failed to learn similar life lessons along the way, if we continue to make stupid mistakes over and over, fail to mature in our own right, we will not be in a position to “teach, instruct, counsel or lead” others when the opportunity presents itself.
Simply stated, if you want to be known as an expert fisherman, you’ll need to have fished more and drank less. You’ll need to know how fish behave under fallen logs or in eddies. Based on your great knowledge of certain fishing holes or weather conditions; you might have to deploy a different lure from your stupid hat that will better attract your prize. Same logic holds true in life. If you want to be known as an expert in something, you must first become extremely proficient in it.
As fathers, we need to understand how to relate to and communicate with our children if we want to help them. We need to observe and assess where they are and what they are currently struggling with, without having to ask. Are they engaged at school? Do they have friends? How many friends? What kind of friends? What stresses them out…besides you? Discernment will be required. Worthy examples of how to listen, instruct and lead will need to be called upon.
But some of us didn’t have very good fatherly role models to learn from. So how can we possibly know how to “be” a great father? Mimic someone that “is” a good father. It’s time to swallow our pride and seek out advice from those that have “been there and done that” to learn some “best practices from trial and error” from guys that have already healed from the scrapes they took from life’s obstacle course.
As followers of Christ, we need to push ourselves to learn more, expect more and demand more of ourselves. In doing so, we become more capable of helping our kids, more understanding of our brides and seasoned veterans of life that can help those coming up behind us. This is a legacy worth pursuing and one worth leaving behind. You ready to go fish ‘in?