Sharks and Feeder Fish

It is followers that define the leader.
— Thomas Kohntopp

About nine years ago, I heard a sermon over leadership from the evangelist John Randels. In this sermon, I remember hearing him ask the question, “Are you a shark or feeder fish?” he was referring to the symbiotic relationship between sharks and remora fish.

This is relationships is characterized by the shark swims around devours prey, meanwhile, it will have about ten remoras attached to the shark or swimming beneath it, to eat whatever is left behind or discarded by the shark.

This is a fascinating relationship to examine, the shark is one of the main predators of the water, and the remora is a tiny fish that does not stand well by its self. The remora relies on the shark for protection and sustenance. We can equate this relationship to our lives and our respective ministries.    

In life, most people enjoy the sense of independence; we do not like having to rely on other people for things in our lives. We want to be the shark in our lives.

However, we need to be feeder fish. In our lives we need to rely on Jesus for our sustenance and security, just look at (Matthew 6:25-34), that clearly shows how we need to rely on Jesus instead of ourselves.

“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

“Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble." (Matthew 6v25-34)

Remember what George Constanza, from Seinfeld (What a great show), has to say about our need for relationships. “If Relationship George walks through this door, he will kill Independent George!” Usually, George does not have good advice. However, he has a few gems. He is exactly right in this example; we need our relationship self to walk in and get rid of our independent person. Independence will never sustain us; we are feeder fish in need of a shark.    

If we use this metaphor of sharks and feeder fish to look at our ministries, we can gain some insight. If you are a senior pastor, student pastor, small group leader, even a lay person who has children. We have someone looking up to us; we need to ask ourselves. What am I feeding them? Are we feeding them solid food (scripture) or are we eating the junk of this world and in the process are they eating that junk also? How can we ensure we are giving off good food? By continually growing in our relationship with Jesus. When this happens, our feeder fish will also gain food of sustenance and grow closer to Christ.

There is also a problem where the people called to lead do not act like sharks at all. If you are in a position of leadership, you are called to be a shark, so act like it.

I will close this post with the question that John Randels asked.”Are you a shark or a feeder fish?” “Are you also following the main shark?”     



Hayden is the student pastor at Checotah First Baptist Church. A life long Oklahomie, who loves building future leaders of the church. In his free time, Hayden enjoys being a wannabe comedian, playing basketball, and striving to be the greatest monopoly player of all time. As a joke, he entered the 2013 NBA Draft.