This summer there was a fair amount of attention on Won’t You Be My Neighbor?, a documentary on the life of Fred Rogers. Confession: unless Mr. Rogers removed his red cardigan to take on spies in a foreign land, save the world or score the winning run, I knew I wasn’t going to watch this movie. I watched enough Mr. Rogers as a kid to assume I knew most of the story, but I was surprised to see that it grossed over $22 million, making it the highest-grossing biographical documentary ever.
From the theme song to the details of each episode, the life lessons taught in the show were simple yet profound. Here are a few . . .
- Share your love with the people around you.
- Be a great friend on good and bad days.
- The inside matters more than the outside.
- Keep things in perspective.
- Learn to manage your anger.
Counter to the ugly news often surrounding us today . . . it was always a beautiful day in Mr. Rogers’ neighborhood.
We spend a lot of time at Radical Mentoring talking about how to be a good neighbor . . . more specifically, how to live “this way of life,” as described in Matthew 28:19, “Go out and train everyone you meet, far and near, in this way of life.” A key way to do this is to make what Regi calls “the outward turn” . . . to enter into community and invest your life into someone else’s.
Whether you use the term mentor, servant leader, disciple-maker, or neighbor, you can’t do this alone. It requires boldness and vulnerability to step out of the shadows and make yourself known.
Eugene Peterson’s translation of John 1:14 says, “The Word became flesh and blood, and moved into the neighborhood.” Others translations say “The Word . . . dwelt among us.” Jesus brings the fullness of grace and truth and chooses to engage in the mess of our lives, and He calls us to jump into the mess too.
To be a neighbor, you need a neighborhood. For some that may start around the kitchen table with those living under your roof. For others that may mean leaving the comfort zone of their homes and stepping deeper into their communities to help the least of these. For many, it could be finally jumping into (or back into) mentoring . . . inviting 6-8 younger guys to be a part of your neighborhood. Regardless, it requires stepping out in faith and “loving our neighbors as ourselves.”