Big Shoes To Fill

I went to see Jakob Dylan in concert last night.  You may not be familiar with him, but you have probably heard of his father.   I have seen Bob Dylan in concert numerous times, but this was the first time seeing Jakob.  Jakob just released his second solo album and it is clear that he is really finding his own style and his own voice.  Here is a link to the song that he opened the concert with last night, “Nothing But The Whole Wide World.”  It is also the opening song on his new album:


The biggest challenge for Jakob Dylan has been to get people to stop comparing him to his father.  I wonder how many times he has had to endure someone saying, “you know, you have some big shoes to fill.”  That statement has been said to me several times in my own life and I have never liked it.  It was probably said to inspire me, but it always made me feel like the person was really skeptical about whether I could fulfill the role in the way they were expecting me to do so.


Several years ago I was called to be the pastor of a church and I knew I was following a strong, successful leader.  In fact, during the interview process, I was told several times that I would have some big shoes to fill if I got the job.  After I was called to the position, I heard that statement several more times, and so I decided to address it directly in my first sermon.  I said to the congregation on my first Sunday, “I do have some big shoes to fill around here--my own.  And those are the hardest shoes of all for any of us to fill.”


Along with Jakob Dylan, you and I do have big shoes to fill--our own.  We do that by being the best, brightest and fullest version of ourselves that we can be.  Jakob Dylan’s goals isn’t to write and sings songs so that he can sound like his father, but to write and sing songs that express his own unique voice and perspective.  Each of us is an experiment of one, with our own unique set of gifts, talent and energy.  When we are fully authentic and alive to our own unique passions and gifts, both we, and everyone else around us, can feel that energy, because it’s contagious. On the other hand, when we are instead trying to be like someone else, or trying to be someone that we think others want us to be, our energy will be just the opposite as we become tired and depressed.


A story is told of a student who said to her wise teacher, “I want to make a difference in the world--what does the world need me to do?”  The teacher responded, “do what makes you feel most alive, because the world needs more people that are fully alive.”  One of the lyrics in the Jakob Dylan song that I provided the link to above talks about how God wants “nothing but the whole wide world for us.”  I could not agree more.  God wants nothing more than for us to be fully alive, filling our own shoes, the shoes that He has given us to fill.