Everything I Need to Know About Ministry, I Learned From Mr. Rogers

If only I could become a minister like Mr. Rogers. Fred Rogers was an ordained Presbyterian minister before becoming the icon of Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood. [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OFzXaFbxDcM&list=PL9CAA626E1A4B2F10&index=5&feature=plpp_video]

While he played a character, “Mr. Rogers”, on the show, it seems that he was very much still himself. During seminary, he became concerned about children’s television programming & answered what he considered a Divine Call to minister through television. I have recently watched bits of the show & interviews. Part of what has made him so popular is his calming demeanor & gentle spirit. I felt relaxed, safe, comfortable listening to Mr. Rogers’ simple wisdom & observations. We could all learn from his approach to life, especially those of us in ministry:

Friendly– I don’t think Mr. Rogers has ever met a stranger. He was friendly & approachable.

Genuine– One example is his sweaters. Of course his sweaters were his trademark, but his mother knit a sweater for him every year. Rogers wore his sweaters on & off the set. They were ‘him’. He even wore a sweater when he met the President. Not trying to necessarily impress anyone, Rogers was simply himself.

Humble– His demeanor on & off the show was a ‘regular’ man. Check out his lifetime achievement award speech here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Upm9LnuCBUM&list=PL9CAA626E1A4B2F10&index=6&feature=plpp_video

Purity– I cannot imagine a harsh or vulgar word coming from him. He seems to have lived Philippians 4:8- “Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.”

Activist– Rogers testified before Congress in support of funding for PBS & also in Sony v. Universal City Studios regarding home VCR use. He was concerned about society.

Creativity– a minister, composer, & TV personality. He approached life differently by thinking outside the box.

Sociable– Mr. Rogers seemed to know everyone around him and everyone seemed to know him. He was well… neighborly! [See Matthew 22:36-39]

Simple Wisdom– “He never condescended, just invited us into his conversation. He spoke to us as the people we were, not as the people others wished we were.” – Teresa Heinz Kerry See how he approaches explaining divorce to children here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=boKCx7auB8k&list=PL9CAA626E1A4B2F10&index=3&feature=plpp_video

Hospitality– he invited us into his home & world every day.

Faithfulness– Rogers was married for over 50 years to 1 wife- Sara.

Influence– Rogers seemed in touch with the influence he had & the power of media.

“There are those people who sometimes say that television doesn’t affect us all that much. Well, all I can say is then why would advertisers pay so much money to put their messages on a medium that doesn’t affect us all that much? I do feel that what we see & hear on the screen is part of who we become.” -Fred Rogers

Gentleness– this is especially apparent in the ways he spoke about & treated children & the handicapped. Rogers had a connection with Henri Nouwen & Nouwen’s work in Canada with a L’Arche Community.

Positivity– While not having a naive Pollyanna complex, Mr. Rogers spoke well of everyone and worked to see life positively.

Fun– He was willing to try new things such as break dancing: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fw_GnjE-des&list=PL9CAA626E1A4B2F10&index=2&feature=plpp_video

Balanced– Rogers was a vegetarian who swam every morning, & prayed regularly. He took care of himself.

Christian– While unmistakably Christian, Rogers preached mostly by his life & attitude.

“And so, dear friends, while you are waiting for these things to happen, make every effort to be found living peaceful lives that are pure and blameless in God’s sight.” [2 Peter 3:14]

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