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Words of Life

Shoes or No Shoes?

By Chet McDoniel May 6, 2012 Words of Life

Born without arms and with shortened legs, Chet McDoniel inspires, motivates, and entertains people with a valuable message of self-worth and wholeness amidst a broken world. He appears this Thursday on LIFE TODAY.

Have you heard the story of the two shoe salesmen? Two guys from two different companies fly into a remote part of Africa where they encounter a tribe that has never seen shoes, let alone worn them. One salesman immediately calls his headquarters and says, “Stop the order. Nobody here wears shoes. We can’t sell anything!” The other salesman calls his boss and says, “Triple the order. Nobody here wears shoes. We can sell a pair to everyone!”

How many times have you approached a situation only to see the negative? For a very real reason, my parents initially saw heartbreak and devastation when I was born. They loved me as any parent loves a child, but an overwhelming sense of hopelessness engulfed them. Many nights, they stood over my crib with tears in their eyes because they could not see a future for a child with no arms. Had they been able to see how life would turn out for me, they would not have had such sadness. But hindsight is 20/20; facing the future can be difficult.

If we are not careful, our past failures can lock our perspective into a negative viewing lens. If you have failed to achieve your dreams, you may begin to see your dreams as unattainable. You must reject that frame of mind. Walt Disney once said, “If we can dream it, we can do it.” I believe him! But oftentimes it requires a different perspective.

This new perspective includes a valuable characteristic: persistence. When I decided to become a worship minister, I was full of ambition and motivation. I sent my résumé to every church where I thought my style would fit. I was interviewed by many, but once I mentioned my handicap, the tone of the interview changed. I usually didn’t hear back from them.

After numerous rejections, I became discouraged. But I made a conscious decision to keep pressing on. I sent out more résumés and finally a small church in Irving, Texas, brought me in for an interview. I auditioned the following Sunday by leading worship in the morning service, and was hired that day. Success!

Why did I keep going? Why did I refuse to let discouragement stop me from achieving my goal? The answer is simple: I believed that I could do it. I believed that becoming a worship minister was attainable, so I kept seeing the situation with a positive attitude. I believed that if I faithfully pursued a position, my skills and personality would eventually fulfill someone’s need. I never once considered that I would not be able to get the job. I knew I was more than capable, and someone else would see it, too.

I loved my worship ministry time at the Plymouth Park Church of Christ, and they were wonderful to me. I would’ve never had the opportunity to lead and learn at that church had I not kept a positive and persistent attitude during my job search. If I hadn’t seen the silver lining behind every discouraging cloud, I would have missed out on a valuable experience in life.

“…we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. (Romans 5:3-4, NIV)

This week’s devotional is adapted from Chet McDoniel’s book “I’m Not Broken,” available at his website,

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