I was sitting at a meeting of Pittsburgh Presbytery. I was bored out of my skull. A gathering of preachers with access to a microphone is a very dangerous thing.
Someone came late and sat next to me. It took a second for me to recognize that it was Fred Rogers. Many people don’t know that Fred was an ordained Presbyterian minister. His entire ministry was to children through the medium of television. No one has ever had a greater impact for good than the soft spoken man from Latrobe PA.
At that Presbytery meeting he leaned over and asked me where we were on the docket. He sounded just like he does on TV. What we saw on the Neighborhood was genuine Fred Rogers. It was not an act. That was who he was in reality.
I told him how much I admired his work. He said thank you. But he really wanted to know more about me and my ministry. That is the kind of person he was. He was never overcome with any sense of stardom or self-importance. He was humble and genuine. The love for people that came over the TV was truly what Mr. Rogers was all about.
My children loved Mr. Rogers. It was must see TV for them. And it was a great time of bonding to watch with them. Gradually, I realized that he was not just teaching children about love and acceptance and self worth. He was also teaching these gospel themes to the adults.
He was a witness to all that Christ stood for without being overtly religious. Some people are blessed with a double spirit of God’s presence. Fred was one of those rare people. He was blessed with a great spirit and he blessed all of us with his ministry.
What do you want to be when you grow up? I want to be just like Mr. Rogers who likes me just the way I am.