If you ever watched Mr. Rogers Neighborhood for any amount of time, you would hear Mr. Rogers instruct, “Look for the helpers.”
He knew that in times of uncertainty there were always people that showed up. They showed up to clean up, cheer up and hold up. It didn’t matter if they had a plan or a list or a leader. They just showed up and helped. They worked with their hands, they listened with their hearts, and they spoke calming, reassuring messages into the circumstance, whatever it was. And then as quickly as they were there, they were gone. Their job was complete. They were the helpers.
Long after Mr. Rogers Neighborhood was no longer playing on our television at home, I learned this lesson from a very wise and seasoned pastor. Here is my “Look for the Helpers” life lesson below:
Years ago, my husband and I and our three children had entered “church life” only recently and found ourselves excitedly being a part of a Missions Conference week at the church we had started attending. It was to be a full week of meetings and interacting with missionaries from all over the world. We were excited. I grew up in church and was excited for the opportunity as an adult to interact with these folks and to introduce our children to them and have them hear firsthand stories from the “ends of the earth”. My husband was excited as he did not grow up in church and was intrigued to interact with these folks who were carrying out their lifelong faith and to be inspired in his newfound faith in trusting Jesus.
The week’s activities went by quickly. The cumulation of the week was a Sunday lunch where we could sit and share a meal with a missionary. We looked forward to this intimate interaction, one on one with our family and a missionary. We found a table and sat down. A missionary couple joined the table of us, and several other folks already seated. Once the blessing over the meal was given, we prepared ourselves to eat and talk.
Then it happened…the folks already at the table were longtime friends and financial supporters of this missionary couple. They said to us boldly and somewhat proudly, “These are our friends, and we are going to take this time to catch up with them personally”. What we heard, in essence, was “Bug off, back off, be quiet.”
Disappointed, we ate in silence, trying to appear okay, but so hurt on the inside. We stayed strong in our outward appearance for the kids but inside we were brokenhearted at the rejection to our presence.
Once the meal was over the room cleared out like a wildfire had spread through. We found ourselves, along with the kids, stacking chairs, gathering up trash, sweeping up crumbs. We were helping.
Just as we were about to finish and gather our things to leave, the pastor of this church walked into the room where we were. He inquired as to our time at lunch and how we enjoyed getting to know one of the missionaries. Hesitantly, my husband relayed our sad experience. His face showed almost as sad and brokenhearted as ours. What an opportunity lost.
In a moment of time as we were standing there, he looked around the room, settling his eyes on a few jackets and bags off to the side. He looked back to us and said, stay around a minute longer. And this is what he said next. “I know what missionary belongs to those jackets and bags. They will be back to greet “the helpers” after everyone else has left. They have servants’ hearts, and they will be back to thank “the helpers.”
Sure enough, within a few minutes, here comes a missionary couple, looking around the room. The pastor standing with us, motioned them over and said “I would like to introduce you to the Johnson family; they are helpers.
So right there, in an empty fellowship hall, we stood and got to talk with this missionary couple one on one. Us, our 3 children, and them. Servants of the gospel message and “the helpers.”
We looked around and the pastor was gone. His job was complete. He was a helper too!
What a lesson to take into ministry life.
Be a helper. Look for the helpers. Thank the helpers.