by: Robert A. Schuller
to be back with you in a preaching role. And I’m
trying to fit into his series of sermons, “Walking
in Your Own Shoes.” Great title. The only problem
is I should have thought of it first. Well anyway, I stopped
to think, have I ever preached on shoes? Yes. It’s
one of the greatest messages I’ve ever given. Fifty
thousand leading pastors from around the world heard it.
They were members of my school called Schuller Institute
for Successful Church Leadership. Many of the pastors
of the largest churches today oh like Bill Hybels or Rick
Warren, came to this institute 35 years ago, 34 years
ago, 33.. they came and they all heard this sentence:
the shoe must not tell the foot how big to grow. Cause
I had all these ministers. When they came, they had to
fill out a questionnaire and I would pass on my critiques
to them. What I think they should do or some advice for
what its worth. And I passed it on, and it’s in
my book, “Your Church has Real Possibilities.”
It came when they almost all answered the question how
many parking spaces do you have. And nobody had enough
parking spaces. Churches up till this church really didn’t
bother about big parking lots. They would ask the city
council must we have parking lots, how many do we need
and they’d take the advice from them. I said imagine
getting the people you wish were coming to church, then
how many parking spaces do you need. Don’t let the
parking set your leadership goals, set your leadership
goals based on how much I would need to park if I had
the people coming that I wish I had. At any rate, it made
a difference. The shoe must not tell the foot how big
to grow. Now that’s a universal principle. You’re
not in a church, you probably aren’t running a church,
but that principle applies to you and it applies to me.
We set up limits that keep God from doing the bigger thing
He wants to do in our life. We can’t do that.
I remember when I was going to write my first book and
I remembered the one F I got in college. I don’t
think I’ve ever told you this before. It was in
writing. So I wasn’t a writer. Then one day I tried
to practice what I preached and its this kind of stuff
I’m giving you now, so I put a piece of paper and
I put it in a typewriter. Looking at another one of my
slogans on the wall, beginning is half done, and I’d
rather attempt something great and fail than attempt to
do nothing and succeed. I put in the paper and I typed
out a title of a book, “Move Ahead with Possibility
Thinking.” Man. And a publisher in a weak moment,
I think, agreed to publish it. And I became a writer.
And for the past two weeks, let me say, I’ve been
writing another book, because I’m practicing the
sermon I’m preaching this morning.
Out of that
book which will be published a year from now, stuff came
out that has changed me in the last six weeks. The one
line is I’ll give it to you: Something is in nothing.
Even though we don’t understand it, probably, or
believe it necessarily, say it out loud will be the first
time in my earthly life I’ve heard anybody say it.
Something is in nothing. You see it in the Garden of Eden.
Nothing. But something is in that nothing. It’s
usually an idea. It’s usually an idea. It’s
usually an idea that’s connected to a person. Or
an idea connected to somebody that we probably have never
met. Something is in nothing. There was something in nothing
before Adam and Eve were created. The something was a
power, it was a presence, it was an intelligence, it was
a cosmic energy. It was God.
Easy for you to believe actually. Today you’re in
a generation that can believe that very easily where they
couldn’t a hundred, two hundred years ago. Today
you can look at a room, there’s nothing in there
but there are voices in there. There’s music in
there. There are plays in there, movies in there, there’s
a lot in that nothingness but you need an instrument to
pick it up. The TV set, computer, and so it is with a
something that is in nothing. You need an instrument to
pick it up. It’s built within you. You have the
capacity. You have to learn how to turn it on and then
how to set it to the right dial. The something that is
nothing is a spirit. It is the God and father of our Lord
Jesus Christ. It is, if you’re a Christian, the
presence of Christ or the presence of the Holy Spirit.
Its there. But you need to have an instrument that will
turn it on. That instrument was potentially created in
you! Everybody has that potential. I use the word potential.
What is that instrument? It’s called faith. You
have been born with a power to exercise a thing called
faith. As far as we know, there is no other creature:
foul, animal, or fish, no other living creature has that
instrument built within him. You have to turn it on. Now
for many people, they turn it off. They don’t realize
they are limiting God. Once a man said to me if what you
say is true, why in the world didn’t God give us
all faith? I said He gave that instrument into every brain
with the capacity, but you have to turn it on. If He gave
it to you by nature like I’m hungry, it wouldn’t
be faith anymore. It would be a sensory science. And then
it wouldn’t have the power of faith. The faith has
a tremendous power to built imaginary bridges and connections.
Here’s the Bible verse. Isaiah 54 verse 2: “Enlarge
the place where your tent stands.” Hear that: which
means you’ve got ideas, you have opinions, you have
interpretations, some you haven’t shared, some you
have. And you’re not going to share them with me;
I don’t need to hear it. The verb, most important
word in most sentences as a writer, let me say this, are
verbs. Enlarge the place where your tent stands. Enlarge
it. THINK bigger! Think longer! Think deeper! Enlarge
the place where your tent stands. Lengthen the cords,
strengthen the stakes.
Now how do
you set your goals? Set your goals by what you as a Christian
should be doing. First, walk in your own shoes. There
are people you know that I don’t know. There are
people that are hurting, I don’t know. There are
people that are depressed and I don’t know them.
There are people that’ll commit suicide and I don’t
know them. Shall I go on and on and on? If I keep going
on and on, I’m going to stop with my finger pointed
at you! Enlarge the place where your tent stands. Don’t
limit God. Don’t let your success limit God. Oh
I’ve got what I need, I’ve got enough, etc.
Then I’ve got a faith, I know I’m going to
heaven so that’s enough. That’s not enough.
Enlarge your faith. Lengthen the cords and strengthen
the stakes. Where are you this morning? You have a faith
in God? Great. Faith in Jesus Christ? Maybe, well stop
there. If you don’t, go for Him. He will bring qualities
to your life to say nothing of eternal salvation who preach
about it all the time. You know why haven’t you
accepted Christ if you haven’t? And if you’re
an agnostic or an atheist, why? It’s because you
have established limits, boundaries, fences on the ideas
that God keeps sending to you.
There was this man I heard of when I was a student. So
long ago I don’t remember his name, but I heard
he was a very famous preacher. And he talked about his
own witness. He said I became an atheist in high school
then in solid as a rock atheist in the university. These
were all the brightest people in the world, and most of
them didn’t believe in God as far as I could tell.
So I became a hardened atheist and decided I was going
to spread atheism so I could enlighten and make more intelligent
the people I lived with. And he said that’s where
I was when one Sunday morning I was out for a walk and
I walked by this big church and I heard music coming out
of there. So I stepped in, stood at the back. I really
don’t remember much about the sermon or the music,
but at the end the minister said I want you to become
a believer. It’s just a decision. Don’t debate
it. Don’t argue it. You’ll never win the argument.
Nobody will. It’s got to be left in the realm of
And then he said, the minister closed with prayer, I didn’t
close my eyes. Everybody else did and I looked around,
everybody was praying. There I saw the white hair of my
head of my physics department. He was famous as being
the most intellectual, the most brilliant, the most talented
professor of the university. He goes to church? Must be
something to this or he wouldn’t go to church. And
after the prayer, I stared at him, his face and head went
up and I saw a radiance coming out of that face, radiance
I never saw in the classroom. Never saw it before. It
came out of that prayer thing. And I said, must be a God.
Something happened to him the last minute or two when
they were praying. And then I thought I’m going
to become a believer. Believers aren’t crazy after
all and he became a believer. Wow.
The shoe must not tell the foot how big to grow. Your
doubts must not tell your faith how to be enlarged. Your
sickness, what is it, must not tell you how long you’re
going to live, or how you can or cannot find healing.
Leadership is the force that sets your goals. Walk in
your own shoes! You make the decision. Don’t listen
to people that talked you into whatever it is that’s
negative. And for sure, atheism is negative. Meet Jesus
Christ. Will that change me? It surely will.
I sat next to a man often in the Rotary Club meeting in
Garden Grove and he and I were closest of friends. I don’t
think I had a closer friend there than Benny T. And I
think in his heart he had a lot of Jesus, even though
he practiced another faith. And I think all of those good
qualities that were coming out of him; I think he got
infected by people that believed in Jesus. But for understandable
reasons, he could not convert. I don’t know, the
most beautiful Christians I ever met. Yes he was Jewish;
yes his name is Benny T. Don’t suppose there’s
anybody here that ever heard of Benny T. Anybody? I doubt
it very much. He’s been gone many years.
At his death, people stood up and told stories and one
man told a story that topped them all. He said you know,
I’ll never forget the story that a few days before
Christmas this guy came into Benny T’s shoe store
and he made shoes. He could create them in his mind and
with leather stitches. He was known for that. This man
came into the store very poorly dressed, holding the hand
of a little boy that was walking odd. Obviously did not
have normal feet. The man came up to put his hands, waited
for Benny to come from his machine to take his order,
he used his right hand and said thank you for seeing me.
His right hand was closed. It was holding something. Later
on when he accidentally exposed it a little, Benny T.
saw it was a ten-dollar bill. He spotted the money. The
man said I’ve been sent here because they tell me
that here in California in Orange County; Benny T. can
make shoes, any kind of shoes. See my son? Look at his
feet. They’re both abnormal. Born that way. These
shoes are so old, I keep putting cardboard inside, the
tops don’t wear out. I found out you don’t
get holes in the top of your shoes. He’s had these
a long time. But I’d sure like to get him a new
pair. We lived back East, just came here and I was told
Benny T. could make them. And you know Christmas is only
a few days away. I want to give it to him for Christmas.
And it was about that point where Benny T. saw that what
was in his left hand was money, paper money, and he read
the numbers one zero. It was a ten-dollar bill. He’d
usually charge from 50 to 100 dollars for a custom made
shoes. So he answered him, pleading father saying you
know, see those shoes in the shop there? I promised them
all they’d be fixed by Christmas. I don’t
have much time left. I hope to God I can get them fixed
because they’re counting on them as Christmas presents.
Yes, I can fix your shoe but not before Christmas. And
he sensed a dismay go over the father’s face.
So the father left with the little boy, Benny worked hard
and the father, hoping for a miracle, came back December
24 late in the afternoon and said by any chance. And Benny
T. said no chance. I close shop in 60 minutes. I’m
still finishing the one that I promised. But come back,
I’ll do it for you. The man left. That night at
3:00 in the morning, his telephone rang. It was Benny
T. saying well I just finished your shoes. They’re
here and I’m open for you if you want to come on
over. The man drove over there; brand new custom-made
shoes for this disfigured and deformed feet. And he said
how much will that cost me? Benny T. said well I usually
get a low of fifty dollars and a high of a hundred dollars.
But he said these came pretty easy so I’ll only
charge you ten dollars. And the man opened his palm and
there was his one and only ten-dollar bill.
Now that’s Benny T. Don’t let anything limit
you from thinking bigger, thinking more generously, thinking
more kindly, more Christ like. You set your goals, you
make your decisions. You’re the only one that can
do that. And you’re the only one that can say no,
when the idea comes into your mind. Wow.
Never let problems, never let pain, never let hardship,
never let your limitations tell you how big to think.
The shoe must never call the foot and tell him how big