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Sea World provides object lesson on how to ‘swim with the sharks’

ORLANDO, Fla. (BP)–The shark tank at Sea World provided an appropriate object lesson for about 140 students participating in a popular leadership training program in mid-July. After learning how different species of sharks can be compared to appropriate personality types of individuals, participants in evangelist Jay Strack’s Student Leadership University 101 course got to observe the sharks in action.
“The first stop in navigating shark-filled waters is to know and recognize the types of sharks out there,” Strack said in the opening SLU-101 session. “With sharks the rule is, ‘When you see a fin, identify it.'”
The mix of training tied to behind-the-scenes application is typical of the SLU program, which included visits to Sea World and Universal Studios in Orlando, Fla., in a week of concentrated leadership training led by top Christian leaders. The SLU-101 course is the first in a series that also includes annual tracks of advanced training based in Washington (SLU-201) and Israel (SLU-301).
Strack listed eight types of sharks with parallels to personality types:
— Spinner shark: With its long, thin nose and limited vision, it represents those who often have their nose in the affairs of others and thrive on gossip.
— Lemon shark: Its two dorsal fins represent the double-minded person who generally is “sour on life” and “agrees with the last person they talk to.”
— Mako shark: They are quick to attack and cut. “You’re not much joy to be around, even if everybody laughs at first, if your comments are cutting,” Strack said.
— Nurse shark: Characteristically on the bottom and slow moving, representing those who are often negative and easily upset.
— Bull shark: With its short, blunt head and rough skin, it represents the opinionated person unwilling to bend.
— Blacknose shark: With a stain on its snout, it represents those who continually bear the burden of a “stain” in their past. “You better learn to get over it by the grace of God, or it will stain you and hurt you the rest of your life,” Strack said.
— Tiger shark: Ready to attack almost any other sharks. “Beware of tiger shark people,” Strack said. “Those are the people that will blow up on you for no reason and attack you.”
— Brown (sandbar) shark: Known for its massive mood swings.
Other fish encountered in the seas of life are to be avoided as well, Strack said, particularly the favored prey of the sharks.
“You don’t want to be a shark, but you don’t want to be a carp either,” he said. His tips for avoiding a life as “shark bait” — with obvious applications for humans — include swimming in groups, avoiding waters known to attract sharks and not entering the water if you’re bleeding.
The best defense, he said, is to “be a dolphin,” that particularly friendly species of sea mammals with such positive traits as strong family ties, protective instincts for other dolphins and a cooperative nature that seeks a “win-win” solution to obstacles.
“Sharks, they want to put you down,” Strack said. “Dolphins will want to help you do well.”
Five weeks of SLU 101 are being offered in Orlando this summer featuring faculty that also include Bob Reccord, president of the North American Mission Board; Daniel L. Akin, provost at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Louisville, Ky.; and Theodore Cabal, dean of Southern Seminary’s James P. Boyce College of the Bible.
NAMB involvement with SLU will increase next summer with SLU-101 sessions specifically targeted for future pastors/missionaries and another for leaders in First Priority Christian clubs on school campuses.

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  • James Dotson