Not too long ago, a friend shared an article with me about Mister Rogers. “Have you read this article?” she asked. It was an article that appeared in Esquire magazine, way back in 1998.*
That article was awesome. There was so much good in it. So much I could copy and paste, right here in this batch of words I’m writing for you. But, I’m going to go with these:
ON DECEMBER 1, 1997 . . . a boy, no longer little, told his friends to watch out, that he was going to do something “really big” the next day at school, and the next day at school he took his gun and his ammo and his earplugs and shot eight classmates who had clustered for a prayer meeting. Three died, and they were still children, almost. The shootings took place in West Paducah, Kentucky, and when Mister Rogers heard about them, he said, “Oh, wouldn’t the world be a different place if he had said, ‘I’m going to do something really little tomorrow,'” and he decided to dedicate a week of the Neighborhood to the theme “Little and Big.” He wanted to tell children that what starts out little can sometimes become big, and so that [sic] could devote themselves to little dreams without feeling bad about them.
Mister Rogers, of course, was a genius. We all know it. Anyone who has watched while Mister Rogers zipped up his cardigan and tied up his sneakers can attest to this. The shooting in Kentucky was a tragedy. It’s impossible to know what might lead a child to take up a gun and ammo and earplugs and wreak such havoc on so many innocent lives.
What is common to all of us, however, is the innate hunger to be noticed, to be seen, to be known.
It is the humanity in us that sometimes causes even the most introverted of us to crave a little bit of attention. Sometimes, what that feels like, is a desire to do something big. Not big and bad, necessarily. But the kind of bigness that looks like landing a book deal or a speaking engagement or a television contract or a score of new followers on Instagram.
Yet, over and over again in the pages of Scripture, we are called toward little.
When Jesus came on the scene and seemed to overshadow the ministry of His cousin who had been baptizing people in the wilderness, John’s disciples came and said to him, “Hey! That guy you baptized the other day is taking all your business! What should we do about that?”
John replied to them saying, “Listen, my job right now is to step aside and let Him take the lead. I’ve got to decrease so that He can increase.”
In the midst of this world that often presses us to desire more more more, what would happen if we woke up each day seeking less less less? Less me. More God. Less likes. More love. Less grandstanding. More grace. Less power. More peace. Maybe tonight, when we rest our heads on our pillows, our prayer to God might sound something like this: “A little bit less of me tomorrow, God. More You. For Your glory always. Amen.”
I don’t know. Call me crazy. But, maybe if we let God decrease us, He might also increase our ability to really see the people around us, especially those whose only desire is to be noticed, to be seen, to be known.
*A gentle warning: if you should look up that article in Esquire, be prepared for language that some may find offensive.
Bev @ Walking Well With God says
I loved Mr. Rogers…what a wise man he was. More of God…less of me. Let me make that my daily prayer. As you so beautifully pointed out, when I am not making much ado about myself, I am able to see others where they are and where they might need a listening ear or encouragement. If I’m always about me 24/7….there’s no room for anyone else – God or others. Wonderful reminder and encouragement this am.!
I once had the opportunity to meet Mr. Rogers. He spoke at an event hosted by the organization I was working for at the time, and I got to be the point person, making sure he got where he needed to be at the right time. He was such a humble and gracious man, and I remember experiencing a sense of his childlike-ness, which was not the same as childishness. He was, indeed, a wise, wise man.
Julie Garmon says
Yes Yes Yes! I have to state often, “Less of me, More of you, God”. Often times it’s the little things that have the biggest impact. Less self glorification, more kingdom uplifting and spotlighting. Our God is so gracious and deserves all of the praise.
Thank you for the reminder. 🙂
Melissa Henderson says
“Less of me, God, more of You.” Let this be my goal each and every day. 🙂 Thank you for this message Deidra.
Thanks Deidra for this message! I was just dealing with this in my prayer time on yesterday. God has a way of sending confirmation, & He definitely did that through your message. So, I surrender. ..as I decrease. ..He will increase. Less of me more of You. That’s my ode to God. Be Blessed!
Michele Morin says
I just finished reading Strong and Weak by Andy Crouch and am captivated by the need for vulnerability AND authority in order to live a flourishing life. That same paradox, I think, applies here. We move away from “little” when it is the absolute key for doing BIG things in the kingdom of God.
(I’m loving all of Mister Roger’s gentle wisdom that you’re sharing!)
That’s a book I keep hearing about.
More and more, I’m growing in my awareness of what seems to the paradoxical quality of God. The invitation, for example, to be in the world, but not of the world, and how these sorts of words, strung together, seem to have life that is deeper than what they first appear to offer. After all, it is for freedom that we have been set free…
Deidra, I praise the Lord and thank you for this gentle message that reminds me of all that Love is. Love is patient, kind, it is not self-seeking…I am so grateful for the Holy Spirit’s gentle conviction to cast my cares and decrease, taking the childlike, little way that St. Teresa spoke of. What is the demand of love? Asking for His forgiveness and stepping into His love today. May each of us become little in the Lord Jesus’ loving arms today so that others may be raised up 🙂
I think this is the tension we live with, daily. The tension between our innate bent toward self-preservation and the divine call of love, which is not self-seeking. It’s hard not to get tripped up from time to time, isn’t it?
Kim Marquette says
Every year I ask God to give me a word or a theme, this year the word is ‘less’. Not an easy word for a gregarious extrovert and yet so far it has been amazing.
ro elliott says
Love this in every way… Yes and amen… May it be so with me!!!
I really needed to read this today. God has been calling me to start a writing, and I have been putting off because I do not see who it can help. But He does! Great post!
Marilyn Yocum says
Do it, Danielle! Leave outcomes in God’s hands. This is an obstacle I have faced many times.
Greer Oharah says
Deidra, what a potent post. Thank you so much for such a powerful reminder that little is good, that less is better.
I felt awful after reading about the shooting and how “big” was misconceived by the shooter. But thankfully you stepped in and reminded us with help from Mr. Rodgers example of how big of an impact little can have and help us focus on others.
Ever since I was a little girl I was amazed at how big God is. And truthfully it’s made me feel microscopic. I think that’s what’s helped me remain little.
Have a blessed day,
Beth Williams says
Maybe if we let God decrease us, He might also increase our ability to really see the people around us. Yes!!! We need more God and less of ourselves. This country needs to get back our Christian values we were founded on. I pray everyone makes this their daily prayer: “More God less me”! Open our eyes Lord to see others and love them as you would!!
Amen. That was poignant and relevant to what I’m going through right now.
Me. Rogers had. Strong impact on a little girl for a long time, at a youthful age.. And he still has a positive impact on that same woman, even now.