Wednesday, December 9, 2009

My Own Shoes

I’ve been thinking about shoes lately.   My predecessor apparently had awesome shoes.  When I asked one of my students about the former accompanist, one of the first things she mentioned about her was her shoes. Apparently she had quite a collection of them, one that was noticed and admired by the students.  I was suddenly embarrassed about my own shoes… black clogs…. very well worn and faded. I felt a little sheepish with such un-awesome shoes. But, they are comfortable. They fit me well. I have to walk around in them all day long and my feet don’t hurt me at the end of the day. In another way, my predecessor left very large shoes for me to fill. I’m realizing as the time passes at my new job just all that she did.

It reminds me of a story I heard a few months ago. A very large church in Northern California had a very well known pastor. The pastor died leaving quite a legacy. A new pastor was eventually selected and was being shown around the grounds. He heard the many stories of his predecessor, all the wonderful things he did and the many people he touched. As he ended the tour of the grounds, the elder showing him around turned and said; “You’ve got some mighty big shoes to fill!”  The wise pastor responded; “I’ve got my own shoes”.

Jesus came with his own “shoes”, too. When He came, others expected Him to wear the shoes they had for Him… the shoes of an emperor, a king, a liberator, a politician, a priest… But Jesus came with His own shoes, His own way of doing things, led by His Father. He did not fill the shoes others had for Him, yet He did exactly what He was called to do. He did not fit their image of what He should be yet He was exactly who they (and we) needed! Thank God He did not change His shoes and wear the ones others had for Him.

Sometimes churches have different “shoes” that they want their pastor to fill.  The shoes might be flip-flops (a more casual personality and approach to doing things), they could be sneakers, penny loafers, or hob-nail boots, whatever the shoes, and they are not “right” unless they are the pastor’s own shoes. Trying to wear someone else’s shoes can cause painful blisters, sore feet, and even difficulty standing and walking. It could throw the whole body out of alignment by wearing the wrong shoes. Trying to wear someone else’s shoes feels un-natural and uncomfortable. It’s best to let people “wear their own shoes”. Let them be who they are. This goes for pastors, accompanists, teachers, husbands and wives. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that we don’t have standards. I’m just saying; let people wear their own shoes. Trust the ones who are wearing them to conduct their lives according to God’s plan and purpose for them.

Let’s give each other room to be ourselves! I’m glad I don’t have to wear the shoes left for me by my predecessor; they wouldn't fit me anyway. I have my own shoes.


Maureen said...

"let people wear their own shoes. Trust the ones who are wearing them to conduct their lives according to God’s plan and purpose for them."

WOW, really good post Jean! Such wisdom in a simple statement.....this is something I so need to carry with me these days. I am guilty of wanting Christians to fit into my ideal of what they should be. But of course I want patience and understanding for my own failings...sigh.

Do you ever feel like you're wondering around looking for direction when you really should have already arrived?

....or maybe that's just me.

Steve said...

I have a picture of my brother and myself wearing our grandfather's irrigation boots when we were young. We loved to wander around in those boots, the tops up to our hips, thinking we were some lost Musketeers wallowing in the mud of the walnut orchard.

Absurd is what it was s we tripped an fell trying to fill those boots that we never would.

My own shoes are hard enough to fill. No need to try others on.