Who’s Gonna Fill Their (Our) Shoes?

Who’s gonna fill their shoes?
Who’s gonna stand that tall?
Who’s gonna play the Opry
And the Wabash Cannonball?
Who’s gonna give their heart and soul
To get to me and you?
Lord I wonder, who’s gonna fill their shoes?

Max D. Barnes and Troy Seals wrote the song, “Who’s Gonna Fill Their Shoes,” released by George Jones in 1985. They were contemplating what would happen to the Grand Ole Opry when the present stars die. It was and is an interesting question.

Elders, deacons, preachers, teachers, parents, and other leaders in the church might ask the same question — who’s gonna fill our shoes?.

My observation: in watching some congregations over a lifetime, the leadership often declines. The local church declines. Is weak leadership the result of a declining church or is the declining church the result of weak leadership?

How do you train leaders? Paul wrote to Timothy:

And the things that you have heard from me among many witnesses, commit these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also. (2 Timothy 2:2, NKJV).

The message and motivation is to be passed from one generation to another. This is true of any position of leadership.

If good, strong, faithful elders and other leaders don’t train leaders who will be as effective or more effective than they are, there’re two possibilities:

  1. Live forever and maintain your excellent leadership.
  2. Expect leadership to decline after you leave. The cycle will probably continue. If you didn’t encourage and train leaders to be as good or better than you are, the next generation will likely follow your example and not train the next generation, who will naturally be weaker and less effective than their predecessors.

What can leaders do to encourage and prepare future leaders?

  • Set the example of excellence — shepherding, teaching, preaching, and serving.
  • Training in classes workshops, and courses taught in person or online — by deliberately developing relationships with others to encourage their spiritual growth. Show and tell them how you’ve grown to be more like Jesus. Share your growth habits — spiritually, in the family, mentally, physically, and financially. Propose how they might excel your level of leadership by avoiding your mistakes and taking advantage of opportunities to learn and lead.

Do I want the leadership to advance or decline during and after my time of leadership?

Who’s gonna fill my shoes?

What suggestions do you have to encourage and train the next generation of leaders?

Please comment.

(Visited 544 times, 49 visits today)
Jerrie Barber
Servant of Jesus, husband to Gail, father to Jerrie Wayne Barber, II and Christi Parsons, grandfather, great-grandfather, Interim Preacher, Shepherd coach, Ventriloquist, barefoot runner, ride a cruiser bicycle

4 Responses to “Who’s Gonna Fill Their (Our) Shoes?

  • Love the thoughts behind this, I have seen all kinds of zoom preacher meetings during this time, Maybe a elder’s zoom meeting/training would be greatly beneficial during this time. Thanks for what you do for the Lord’s Kingdom.

    • Jerrie W. Barber
      2 years ago


      Thank you for this idea. This kind of thinking can help us train and encourage growing leadership.

  • J. Larry Graham
    2 years ago

    Jerri has some excellent ideas and thoughts on how to go about to encourage and train the next generation of leaders. My suggestion basically reinforces his line of thought. I still remember an elder/deacon seminar I attended years ago. It made me a better Christian and elder, boosted my zeal, revitalized my faith, gained new insight and taught me about others, about myself, about God, about the Bible, about Church, about prayer, and about singing praises to God. Yes, singing of 80+ men singing mostly base was “Wow” beautiful and inspirational as was interspersed between speakers and prayers. You would have had to be there to feel the motivation of praising and glorying God Almighty in song. Yes there were many seminars, lectureships, prayer encouragement sessions, marriage enrichment classes for couples, for elders, deacons, teachers, that made a big difference and enhanced not only my life as well as others ultimately benefited the Church. Attendance aids one to be equipped with the Lord’s help to better deal with the issues of life and comfort and pray for others in the mist of life storms. Men and especially men, I believe have to be careful to not let human nature’s ego and pride slip in and make us sometimes think we have arrived when in realty we are still on the journey and need to grow and can greatly benefit from engaging in these type of seminars.

    Secondly, would suggest that while most of us have wonderful library of books about THE BOOK which we love and refer to, lets not forget two things Paul told Timothy to do; to study, be diligent and rightly divide the word of truth(2 Tim 2:15) spending ample time in THE BOOK itself.

    Thirdly, would suggest one avail themselves of reading and studying some Biblical archeology as well as how we got our Bible. My good friend Rodney Cloud, PhD introduced me to this in his lectures and videos of artifacts discovered outside the Bible. To those of us of faith it will warm your heart and deepen your faith. More importantly my 8 years experience in jail ministry made me personally witness it effectiveness in teaching those of no faith to little faith how evidences outside the Bible prove and corroborate the Bible leading them to accept Scripture as inspired and obeying the Gospel(2 Tim. 3:16,17; Rom. 1:16). So while not saying you need to learn Hebrew and Greek but at least understand the basics of Biblical archeology to be able to convey some of the major findings.

    In concluding, I challenge elderships to continually promote and attend along with your deacons and potential church leaders these seminars and lectureships. The Covid-19 pandemic limits this to Zoom, etc. for now until some normalcy returns. Attendance will make all more knowledgeable and better equipped hence wiser to perpetuate a sound vibrant church with Godly leadership.

    J. Larry Graham

    • Larry,

      Thank you for your reflections on what helped you be a better shepherd.

      Your good service demonstrates how you applied those principles to your leadership.

Please comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: