I didn’t grow-up watching Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, but last summer’s media mania surrounding the show’s creator, Fred Rogers, certainly piqued my interest. After watching the Won’t You Be My Neighbor? documentary and reading the first full-length biography on the man behind the classic television show, Fred Rogers has become one of my favorite Christian entrepreneurs and culture-creators of all-time. Over the next four weeks, I hope you’ll see why, as I weave Scripture together with Fred Rogers’s own words to demonstrate how we can embrace God’s call to create and influence culture at a massive scale for the sake of the gospel. I’ve only shared one other biopic devotional series with you (C.S. Lewis and the Call to Create), but I couldn’t help sharing this one. As always, I am eager to hear your thoughts on this series!
Mister Rogers and the Call to Create
Devotional 1 of 4
Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. (Romans 12:1-2)
Long before he zipped up a cardigan sweater and became Mister Rogers, Fred Rogers was a young man who loved Jesus and was eager to discern his calling. Throughout his childhood and adolescence, Rogers had many interests and talents, including music, puppetry, and children’s education. The question in Rogers’s mind was how he could combine these different gifts in a single opportunity to best serve others.
Dr. Junlei Li, the former co-director of The Fred Rogers Center, explains that “Fred was guided by a deep sense of service, of wanting to be useful to the world. He was driven by service even if in his mind it was vague for years as to how to best leverage his considerable talents in service of others.” Fred Rogers embodied Romans 12:1, deeply understanding that as Christians, the gospel of Jesus’s selfless sacrifice should compel us to view our whole lives as service to others. When it comes to our work, the proper response to the gospel is not to seek out the work that will earn us the most fame and fortune. The goal should be to find the work we can do most exceptionally well in service of God and others. In the words of Rogers himself, “You don’t set out to be rich and famous; you set out to be helpful.” As Rogers’s biographer points out, this “relentless sense of service to God drove every moment of Fred Rogers’s life,” especially in how he thought about his work.
But how would he serve? Where was Rogers being called to put his gifts to work for the glory of God and the good of others? These were the questions Rogers grappled with for many years.
Rogers had a term he loved to use when referring to discerning one’s calling. He called it “guided drift.” The idea was that, while it is good and wise to make plans, “one needed to live a life that was open to change,” led by the Holy Spirit. As Rogers was wrapping up college in the spring of 1951, he was planning a career in pastoral ministry, as this was how he thought he could be of utmost service to others. But just before starting seminary, Rogers saw television for the first time. As we’ll see next week, this seminal moment produced a major jolt to Rogers’s guided drift, setting him down a path to creating one of the most influential pieces of culture of the 20th Century—a TV show that would make Christian values attractive to millions of children.
Author, Called to Create
Added to My Reading List
Costi Hinn (nephew of world-famous televangelist, Benny Hinn) was set to inherit the family’s lucrative prosperity gospel business. But then, Costi discovered the true gospel of Jesus Christ, and began to see just how distorted “the prosperity gospel” is and how “prosperity preachers exploit the poor and the needy to stockpile their riches.” This book tells Costi’s fascinating story, giving a rare inside look at how prosperity preaching works, and how, by the grace of God alone, one would-be accomplice found truth. Click here to learn more about the book or to pick-up your own copy!
Which book should I add to my reading list next?
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Click here to access previous devotionals in this and other series.