The Shoemaker's Kids Have No Shoes

June 15, 2022

But those who won’t care for their relatives, especially those in their own household, have denied the true faith. Such people are worse than unbelievers. 1 Timothy 5:8 NLT

In The Proverbs of John Heywood, printed in 1546, we see for the first time the centuries-old descriptor of human nature, saying, “Him who makes shoes son goes barefoot.” It has been recorded as, “The cobbler’s children have no shoes,” and today we normally say, “The shoemaker’s kids have no shoes.” What does it mean? It means that those closest to a person are often deprived of that person’s skills, expertise, and resources. Other people get them, but the “children,” the closest ones, do not.

True success is said to be when the ones who know you best love and respect you most. That certainly would not be true for the shoemaker who doesn’t have time to make shoes for his own children. Or for the counselor who never listens to her own husband. Or the coach who never plays ball with his own kids. Or the pastor who never prays with her own family. You get it, don’t you?

We may build tremendous reputations for kindness, greatness, and fun outside our own homes while our families don’t know what to think about it. They are told about the generosity we showed to someone else, and they don’t know what to say. They are like a young man who talked to me about his life. I asked him about his family and relationships. I knew of his dad and referred to him in a complimentary fashion. He laughed shortly and said, “Yeah, he’s good at his job.”

I knew I had hit a nerve. So in a moment or so I asked, “Is he good at being a dad?”

He said, “Find out for yourself. Ask him if he knows what classes I’m taking my senior year. Ask him if he knows what I did last weekend. Heck, ask him almost anything about me. He won’t know.”

Sometimes we steal from our family and give it to the church. We aren’t intended to have church-centered families. We are to have Jesus-centered homes, and that means we love each other in the same way Jesus did, with respect, intentionally, with priority. We need to love the world for sure and serve other believers, but it starts at home. Paul told Timothy that anyone who doesn’t take care of his or her own family has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever! That’s serious! Make sure your family gets your very best. You can’t be a faithful Jesus follower if you don’t.

  • My love for Jesus is incompatible with neglect of my family’s needs. Healthy relationships are my responsibility.