Fred Rogers can hardly be called an “unsung” hero, but there are few who appreciate how deep were the roots of his wisdom and spirit. He was one of my predecessors in the Presbyterian ministry. He, more publicly than any other Presbyterian in recent memory, embodied the Reformed tradition’s commitments to worldly spirituality and the sacredness of all life. Shortly after his ordination, Mr. Rogers realized that he hated preaching, so he pursued his ministry in the TV studio rather than the church. His message was never explicitly religious, but he communicated the kind of universal spiritual values that continue to shape multiple generations of children. I’m proud to be his posthumous colleague in the Presbyterian Church.
Here’s a wonderfully autotuned video produced by PBS:
Idea No. 1: During the Sunday morning message, listen closely and take notes. Look your minister straight in the eye, and occasionally nod your head and say, “Amen!” Begin to make serious efforts to apply the life lessons you learn from the sermons. In six months, she’ll preach herself to death.
Idea No. 2: Pat your minister on the back and brag on her good points two or three times a month. Make a bunch of phone calls to your friends and neighbors and tell them all the good things about your minister. In a little while, so many more people will start coming to your church, you’ll have to hire an associate minister, and your senior minister will be free to leave.
Idea No. 3: Next Sunday, in response to the sermon, dedicate yourself to something you believe in. Then make an appointment with your minister sometime next week. Ask her to give you some job you could do for the church. She’ll likely die of heart failure on the spot.
Idea No. 4: Get a whole bunch of the church members to unite in earnest prayer for your minister, her ministry and her family. Organize prayer meetings in which you pray for the growth of the church and the blessing of the community. Your minister may become so effective in ministry that some larger church will gladly take her off your hands.
One note of caution, however: if you try one of these methods, you may find that you don’t want to get rid of your minister after all.