The monkey and the fish

This is a guest post from my father, Jim Hatch, who lives in St. Louis, MO, USA.

Fifteen years ago I took a DMin course with Duane Elmer, “Creative Problem Solving.”  Very helpful. And I commend his writings to you; check ’em out on Amazon.JimHatch

In my class notes from that summer I have the following story he told, adapted from Ann Templeton Brownlee:

A story is told about a monkey and a fish. It seems a typhoon had temporarily stranded a monkey on an island.  In a secure and protected place, and waiting for the raging waters to recede, he spotted a fish swimming against the current.  It seemed obvious to the monkey that the fish was struggling and in need of assistance. Being of kind heart, the monkey resolved to help the fish.

A tree precariously dangled over the very spot where the fish was struggling.  At considerable risk to himself, the monkey moved far out on the limb, reached down, and snatched the fish from the ‘threatening waters.’  Immediately scurrying back to the safety of his shelter, he carefully laid the fish on dry ground.  For a few moments the fish showed excitement but soon settled in a peaceful rest.  Joy and satisfaction swelled inside the monkey. He had helped another creature and he had done it successfully.

I hope you’ll take some time and reflect on that story.  Duane Elmer had us wrestle with questions like, what motivated the monkey?  What assumptions did he make?  If the fish could speak, what would he say? How am I like the monkey in dealing with people?  With situations?  Are there insights here that could enhance my Christ-like servanthood?

I’d be interested to hear your take on the monkey.

Jim Hatch recruits church planters for Mission to North America; email him at for questions or comments.

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Chris Hatch

Seeking to love God and neighbor

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