I obviously did not know Mister Rogers personally. But by all accounts, it seems like he was a meek, kind, compassionate, and humble man.
I wonder if men’s ministries in our churches would accept him as a leader.
Over Thanksgiving break, I went to see A Beautiful Day In The Neighborhood with Jamie and her family. Personally, I loved it.
Back at OBU, I had the opportunity to be a part of leading the men’s ministry on campus for several years. While in Phoenix, I sat in on a men’s ministry. I’ve read many books on the topic. It’s something I’m passionate about.
And with all of these experiences and lessons learned, I think that we need more men in our churches like Mister Rogers.
There’s a passage in Colossians that I came across that has me thinking more and more along those lines. At this point in the letter, Paul is encouraging the followers of Jesus at Colosse to put their sin to death, replacing those sinful behaviors with that which is in accordance with Christlikeness. He says this:
Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. – Colossians 3:12-14
So, in summary, according to Paul a follower of Jesus (men included) should be:
Somewhere along the way, in American churches, strength and courage, bravado and bravery have taken the lead when it comes to what men should be like. I wrestle with that a lot, because those things wouldn’t exactly be on my epitaph.
I know a ton of godly men, in my church, in my community, and in my past. Men who have and are pouring into me. This is obviously not an indictment against all men everywhere.
I just want to push back against the idea that a godly man must be aggressive, strong, boisterous, etc. I would in fact make the argument that the godly man should look more like the list above. And I will tell you from firsthand experience that the men who have been the most impactful in my life have some or all of those characteristics.
I have nothing at all against hunting or home improvement. But if I’m being real candid I have felt some (possibly self-induced) feelings of being ‘less than’ at different times in my life for not enjoying the prototypical male activities. I have wrestled with the way that God designed me to be, the gifts He’s given me.
I used to be an extremely loud, obnoxious, flirtatious, annoying, braggadocios, vulgar turd. As I’ve grown closer to the Lord, He has been pulling me away from those things. Well, maybe not the obnoxious part (as I wear a sequin-infested, dinosaur Christmas sweater while typing this).
I want to invest in younger men (something that both my full-time job as a pastor and part-time job with FCA allows me to do, praise God), and show them that manhood isn’t obscene and vulgar and loud. Manhood is service, meekness (the characteristic some say is ‘wussifying’ masculinity in our country), and humility. I want them to get that a lot earlier than I did.
I’ve read, listened to, and heard from men that masculinity is mostly strength and courage. But I’ve also seen many of these same men fall from grace. Hard. Private sexual sins and vulgarities and obscenities are ripped into the light. Anger and misogyny and domineering behaviors uncovered.
Why is it that so many men who have talked about manhood have had great public charisma and strength but little Christlikeness in private? Could it be because we’ve been teaching men the wrong things?
Have we focused so much on the man’s role in leading the family that we have forgot to talk about serving the family? Have we focused so much on outward strength that we’ve missed inward fruits of the Spirit?
Have we allowed Braveheart, Gladiator, and Saving Private Ryan to outshine Christ?
This past semester at the church I work at, we walked through the book of 1 Samuel with our youth and children. Jonathan leaps off the page.
Here you have a man who singlehandedly wins a battle for the people of God. Talk about strength and courage. These are not bad things. But he also was willing to relinquish his genetic right to the throne, giving it to David instead. Not only that, he wept over David, cherished his relationship with David, and saved him again and again. Here’s a man who had strength and courage, but that wasn’t all. He also was an empathetic, compassionate, humble, and kind man.
What a great example of what I personally believe manhood should look like.
I have another great example.
My dad is strong. My dad is brave. My dad is courageous.
But my dad is also humble. My dad is kind. My dad is a servant.
And all the time, I mean all the time, he tells me one simple phrase. It’s not “be loud and proud”. It’s not “be rude and crude”. It’s not even “work hard and go hunt”.
“Be God’s man.”
And I want to tell younger men the same thing.
Be God’s man.
Be a servant. Be someone who helps others in need. I’m not good at this one, but I’m working on it.
Be compassionate. When I see men tear up, I don’t think “what a pansy”. I think, “what a Christlike heart”.
Be kind. Sexism, sarcasm, rudeness and crudeness are not the way of Jesus. Be kind.
Be humble. You’re not all that and a bag of chips.
Be meek. Again, our culture doesn’t really like men like this. But Jesus was meek and gentle. Strength is not violent and aggressive. Strength is gentle.
Be patient. This world doesn’t revolve around you.
Be loving. Are you known for your jump shot, your wit, your looks, your intelligence, or your loving nature? Are you known more for the power of the Spirit (public life) or the fruit of the Spirit (private life)?
I think the world needs more men like Mr. Rogers.
I think the world needs more men like Jesus.
In His Name,
No copyright infringement is intended in using this picture of Mister Rogers