Posted by: Pastor Terry Hagedorn | August 24, 2010


John 21:1-6 “Cast the net on the right side of the ship, and ye shall find.”

Obviously the “right side of the ship” is simply the opposite of the left side; however, in this case the left side was also the WRONG side. How did Simon Peter and six followers ever get on the far, foolish, frustrating, and fish-less side of the boat?

I believe that six of them were caused to stumble by Simon Peter- who had determined to leave the ministry and to permanently go back to fishing. The others were affected by Simon Peter. “For none of us liveth to himself, and no man dieth to himself” (Rom.14:7). We affect one another- either for the better, or for the worse. The six followed the leader.

Someone is following you. Don’t let them down. Don’t fall. If you fall, then you may knock some down or you may pull some down.

We live in a day when many are falling. An evangelist said that he started to keep a record, notes in his pocket calendar, about good men who had fallen into sin and out of the ministry. At the end of the year, he had accumulated sixty-seven names!

You and I CAN fall! We must avoid the pitfalls in the ministry. We must learn why Simon Peter fell. These reasons are warnings to you and me:


In Luke 22:31-32, the Lord had warned him that he was going to be attacked. Why would Peter be the personal target of this attack? Satan always attacks the leader first. “Smite the shepherd and the sheep will be scattered” is a truth that the evil one understands. Preacher, you’re going to be attacked!

In Viet Nam, the point man was a soldier who led a patrol. His job was to guide and guard those who followed him. Unfortunately, he was usually the first causality in a battle- not just because he was in front, but because the enemy knew that his patrol would become confused and frightened by the loss of their point man. So, the enemy trained their first shots on him. Be sober and vigilant! You’re point-man! The enemy has focused his sights on you. He wants to ambush you. Watch out!


Simon Peter had failed miserably. He swore that he’d never forsake Christ, and then he denied him three times. He had been told to pray. He fell asleep three times. He felt like such a failure. He rationalized that he was going to go back to something he could do: fishing. However, now that the Lord had called him to be a fisher of men, he couldn’t catch a fish out of the will of God. You’ll never be a success at anything out of God’s will, either.

Listen. Failing does not make you a failure. Quitting does! In a little over forty days, Simon Peter was going to be catching hundred and fifty pounders by the thousands! Don’t quit!


Simon Peter slept when he should have been praying. Prayer is primary to the ministry. Acts 6:4 tells us that later on Simon Peter learned its importance. “We will give ourselves continually to prayer (first) and to the ministry of the Word”.

Prayer must precede ministry. Ministry is powerless without prayer. Paul agrees. Read I Tim. 2:1. Someone has said, “Prayer is faith taking hold of the promises and the power of God”. You need this power to pray, to properly divide the Word, to praise, to practice your ministry, to preach, to be pure, and to prepare for His Return. If you are not praying- YOU ARE PLAYING.


I have observed six things that can cause the servant of God to put down his cross, to stop denying himself, and to stop following the blessed Savior: LUST, LUCRE, LEADERSHIP CONFLICT (In the Home and in the Church), LOSS OF DESIRE FOR THE MINISTRY, LUNACY (Doctrinal), and LOOKING FOR THE ELUSIVE GREENER GRASS–i.e. A church to pastor that is larger, really appreciative of their pastor, wealthy, and “truly spiritual”. Remember this about greener grass: (1) It may be artificial grass like Astro-turf! (2) Even if it is greener, YOU will just have more to mow! Finally, (3) we have a saying here in West Virginia: “The grass is always greener right over the septic tank!”.


II Cor.10:12, “But they measuring themselves by themselves and comparing themselves by themselves ARE NOT WISE”.

The worst thing that some preachers can do is to go to a pastors’ fellowship. A brother pastor comes up and says, “Well how is the Bishop of (Any Town) doing”? “Just okay?

Brother we’ve been really blessed. We had seven saved…” Or, some brother pastor will come over and state, “People just aren’t as spiritual as they used to be, are they? I can’t get my people to do anything.” Have you ever been to those type of fellowship meetings? It’s so depressing!

Comparing ourselves with ourselves is not wise. It will result in one of these three things: (1) Pride- “I’m doing more than most”. (2) Jealousy- “I wish I had what so-and-so has”. Or, (3) Complacency-“I’m doing as much as so-and-so. In fact, I’m so so. I’m right in there with the best of the worst and the worst of the best. I’m average… I’m lukewarm”- which makes God sick.

Peter pointed to John and asked, “What about him”? The Lord rebuked him by saying, “What is that to thee?” In other words: It’s not your business! Just worry about yourself. God has not called you to be successful- JUST FAITHFUL! If you’re faithful, then you ARE successful! Success is never to be measured by nickels and noses.


John 20:22 says that they had already received a filling of the Holy Spirit and His power. However, they lost it. Power does not come by getting more of the Holy Ghost. It comes by letting the Holy Ghost have more of us. The two keys to this power are given in Romans 6: (1) Reckon yourself dead. (2) Yield yourself to Christ. Let Christ live in you and through you. Remember Gal. 2:20 says, “Not I, BUT Christ liveth in me.”


PASSIONLESS SERVICE. “Lovest thou me?” Leaving that first love is not just a loss of a degree of love, but it is leaving a Person. God is love. Christ is love. We leave close fellowship with Him because our love grows cold.

Perhaps, the Great Apostasy of these Last Days is not only a doctrinal apostasy by infidels, BUT, tragically a devotional apostasy by believers. The love of many has grown cold. So many of us have the right motions, BUT lack the right emotion. We run on auto-pilot.

May I tell you how to return to an impassioned degree of service? Study the Cross. Preach on the Cross.

Meditate on the Cross. It is this show of love that constrains us. It is not my love for Him that will sustain me. Sadly, the degree of my love for Him goes up and down. Love for people, love for preaching, love for praying, and not even love for soul winning will sustain you.

It is His love for me that constrains and sustains me. No one ever cared for me like Jesus! The hymn says, “I saw one hanging on a tree, In agony and blood; He fixed His languid eyes on me, As near His Cross I stood. Oh! Can it be, upon a tree- The Savior died FOR ME? My soul is thrilled- My heart is filled, To think HE DIED FOR ME!”

A Barber moved to a new town. His shop was on the main street right across from the Town Cemetery. He noticed that EVERY day a young woman came to the cemetery shortly after twelve noon. She went to a certain grave, placed fresh flowers on it, and quietly sat on a bench for a few minutes before she left.

One particularly slow day in the shop, the barber’s curiosity got the best of him. He closed his shop and went to the cemetery just before noon.

“Pardon me Miss,” he said, “I’m the barber that runs the little shop across the street. I have noticed that you come here everyday. Was he your father?”

“Oh, no he wasn’t my father. I’m not offended by your asking, though. I’d be glad to tell you about this man.

When I was eight years old, I was sick, and my mother kept me home from school. She had gone to our neighbor’s house to use their phone to call the Doctor. While she was out of the house, the furnace blew up. Flames filled the first floor of the house. I was trapped upstairs. Our Volunteer Fire Department was called. This man lived near my house. He was first on the scene. He saw me trapped upstairs and ran into our burning house, up the stairs, and into my room. He had no sooner lowered me safely out of my window to a neighbor below, when the floor gave way beneath him. He died in the flames. He died for me. This is the least that I can do for him. The barber understood and agreed.

Brethren, the Lord Jesus has saved us from worse than a house fire. He has saved us from Hell fire. We ought to faithfully live for Him who loved us and died for us. It is the least we can do.

Please, brother pastor, don’t quit! It’s ALWAYS too soon to quit. Don’t fall, either. Avoid the pitfalls. No matter what- keep on keepin’ on!


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