Have you noticed the recent fascination our nation has with Fred Rogers (aka: Mr. Rogers)? You can find him on coffee mugs, calendars, and even recently depicted by Tom Hanks in “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood.” Mr. Rogers’s positive outlook, kind disposition, and acceptance of others is a message our hurting world is obviously craving. The funny thing is, there are a lot of lessons Mr. Rogers taught that agree perfectly with the teachings God tells us in His word. While Mr. Rogers was just like any of us, fallible, broken, and in need of a Savior, I believe we can take some of his lessons and apply them to Bible teachings making this world more accepting of the love of Christ.
1. Speak Kindly to Yourself
Take a tally of how you talk to yourself. Is it mostly negative? If you’re anything like me, it is. I was once told to write down all the thoughts running through my head at that very moment about what I was thinking about myself. I started to fill up a whole page with thoughts like “I’m not good enough,” “people just tolerate me,” “trying will get me nowhere,” and so on. When I was able to physically look at all these negative thoughts, it started to make sense to me just why I felt so defeated and worn before the day even began.
This way of thinking makes it difficult for us to live out the second greatest commandment that God tells us in Mark 12:30 (NLT): “Love your neighbor as yourself.” It’s hard to love others when we don’t even like ourselves.
I believe Mr. Rogers understood this struggle when he once sang a song on his show called “It’s You I Like.” It goes like this: “It’s you I like. Every part of you. Your skin, your eyes, your feelings – whether old or new. I hope that you’ll remember even when you’re feeling blue, that it’s you I like.”
I like to believe this song sums up the way God feels toward us. God says we are known by Him (Matthew 10:30). We are valuable to Him (Matthew 10:31). We belong with Him (1 John 14:18). When we start to believe this truth, we start to see ourselves as loved just the way we are and that makes it easier to love others just as they are as well.
2. Encourage Instead of Envy
Do you find yourself constantly comparing your abilities to someone else’s? I’m right there with you. We fear that what we perceive in someone else as better qualities will make ours look useless. With that in mind, we tear others down in hopes of helping ourselves feel better.
The good news is, there’s no need to be jealous because each of us is special. God tells us in Ephesians 2:10 (NLT) that we are each created for a specific purpose in mind and are uniquely equipped for the journey. This means there are things you are qualified by God to do. When we each do what we are called to do, God’s children as a whole work better together.
Mr. Rogers’s song, “You Are Special,” says it best: “You are my friend. You’re special to me. You are the only one like you. Like you, my friend, I like you.” He followed it with saying, “Each of us has something that no one else has or ever will have, something inside that is unique to all time. It’s our job to encourage each other to discover that uniqueness and to provide ways of developing its expression.”
So when you start to feel that green-eyed monster crawling in you, remember God has made you unique as well as the others around you.
3. Your Purpose is Right Here
Do you feel like your life is void of purpose? You don’t know why you’re stuck where you are or what good can come of it. Purpose is a big deal for all of us. We want to feel like we belong to something bigger than ourselves and that we are valuable to its mission. That gives us hope.
If we look to the world for our purpose, it’ll tell us we need to have more followers on social media and more money in the bank along with many other things. But if you look at those who’ve accomplished these things, you’ll find they’re still hollow and still chasing after “purpose.” So what hope is there? The hope is God.
Our world is a hurting one. Many are in need of help and guidance but lost in the shuffle. Mr. Rogers was once asked to go on public television after the September 11th terror attacks with something that would encourage the world and this is what he said: “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers…if you look for the helpers, you’ll know that there is hope.’”
Look around you. Do you see anyone walking through a difficult stage in life? God has purposefully placed you right where you are to minister to those around you. Mr. Rogers accepted this purpose by exemplifying love and kindness on his television show, and because of it, we’re still talking about its impact today! While we may not find ourselves on television, that doesn’t mean our purpose isn’t any less important. Your purpose is in those hurting around you. Remember, God has uniquely equipped you for the task at hand. What better way to find purpose than to show the hope of Christ that is in you to others?
It’s amazing how one man’s simple acts of kindness some 30 years ago still has so many looking up to him, no matter their beliefs. I think it shows just how much hurt many around us are living with day-to-day. Here’s what’s great though: by practicing self-compassion, encouragement to others, and the acceptance of the purpose God has given us now, we are able to bring hope not only to ourselves but to those around us and that will make for some pretty great neighbors.