Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Shark or Dolphin?

With all the talk in recent days about sharks and the great American tradition of Shark Week, I want to take a little time to think about dolphins. I love the joyful, playful and personable attitudes of these amazing creatures. 

I guess like many of my generation, Flipper splashed his way into my living room and ultimately into my heart through this TV series. 

As an adult, I was blessed for a season of life to serve as a pastor on an inland island in Central Florida. Dolphin sightings became regular occurrences not only offshore, but also in the rivers and estuaries. Dolphins were “friends” I spotted and observed as I went about my daily routines of morning exercise, midday travel and evening sunsets. 

Here are three things I learned and want to pass along to you regarding dolphins and their behavior. 

1. Dolphins are good communicators. From their signature whistle to a variety of clicking and vibration sounds, they are able to interact with each other and even “show off” around humans. 

For you, communication is also an important part of daily life. But how do you communicate and what are you saying to those around you? Are you adding value, offering encouragement and building hope, or are you negative, critical and demeaning? 

The authors of Proverbs as well as the Apostle Paul and James have much to say about words, communication and interaction with others. I especially love this verse:Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear” (Ephesians 4:29 ESV). 

Listening. Thinking. Processing. Expressing. Each of these steps helps you be a better communicator. And I might add, remember to apply this to the actions of your fingertips as much as your tongue. 

2. Dolphins swim in schools. In other words, they live and thrive in community. They care for one another and for others, even humans. Dolphins can actually develop and exude a culture of caring. 

I think this is the striking difference between sharks and dolphins. Sharks are all about their consuming impulses, but dolphins have another quality. "Dolphins are altruistic animals. They are known to stay and help injured individuals, even helping them to the surface to breath. Their compassion also extends across the species-barrier. There are many accounts of dolphins helping humans and even whales." (source

As I read this description, I thought of all the “one another” insights and instructions found throughout the New Testament. Take a quick look, but do more than give this information a casual glance. Take time to look up the Scripture passages and make a list you can carry with you. Consider how you can help to build a culture of care and healthy community with others around you. 

3. Dolphins are curious and playful. They even look like they are smiling.  Sometimes the journey of life can mark you with wrinkles rather than smiles, but  listen. The ocean is big. Storms come. There are many predators. But in and through it all, there is hope found in knowing, loving and serving Jesus Christ. 

Jesus walked across threatening waves and today He speaks, “Peace be still,” amid your storms. 

Don’t let the circumstances of life steal your joy. “A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones” (Proverbs 17:22 ESV).

I’m curious today. Shark or dolphin? 

The Holy Bible, English Standard Version Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.