Summary: This message is about our attitudes in getting the job done right and is based on the story of the Little Red Hen.
The Little Red Hen
A Story For Today’s Attitudes
The title of my message this morning is “The Little Red Hen.” As I read this story to you, I want you to think about the characters and the attitudes they display and determine if you have ever had (or still have) any of those same attitudes. I first read this story as a child but what you will hear this morning is the modern day version of the story. I chose to share the modern day version because I think it will help us better identify with one of the characters or possibly all of them. So please pay close attention as I read this story.
The Little Red Hen
“Once upon a time, there was a little red hen who scratched about the barnyard until she uncovered some grains of wheat. She called her neighbors and said, "If we plant this wheat, we shall have bread to eat. Who will help me plant it?" "Not I," said the cow. "Not I," said the duck. "Not I," said the pig. "Not I," said the goose. "Then I will," said the little red hen, and she did.
The wheat grew tall and ripened into golden grain. "Who will help me reap my wheat?" asked the little red hen. "Not I," said the duck. "Out of my classification," said the cow. "I'd lose my seniority," said the pig. "I'd lose my unemployment compensation," said the goose. "Then I will," said the little red hen, and she did.
At last it came time to bake the bread. "Who will help me bake the bread?" asked the little red hen. "I'd lose my welfare benefits," said the duck. "That would be overtime for me," said the cow." I'm a dropout and never learned how," said the pig. "If I'm to be the only helper, that's discrimination," said the goose. "Then I will," said the little red hen.
She baked five loaves and held them up for her neighbors to see. They wanted some and, in fact, demanded a share. But the little red hen said, "No, I can eat the five loaves." "Capitalist leech!" screamed the duck. "Excess profits!" cried the cow. "I demand equal rights!" yelled the goose.
And the pig just grunted. And they painted "unfair" picket signs and marched around and around the little red hen, shouting obscenities.
When the government agent came, he said to the little red hen, "You must not be greedy." "But I earned the bread," said the little red hen. "Exactly," said the agent. "That is the wonderful free enterprise system. Anyone in the barnyard can earn as much as he wants. But under our modern government regulations, the productive workers must divide their product with the idle." And they lived happily ever after, including the little red hen, who smiled and clucked, "I am grateful. I am grateful." But her neighbors wondered why she never again baked any more bread.”
Did you see yourself? Did the story offend you? Did this story sound political? When you heard the responses from the little red hen’s neighbors, were you offended? Did you think of instances when something similar had happened to you on your jobs or at Church? This story not only represent the attitude of many in the world, but also, sadly, many Christians. Let’s examine the attitudes of each character of the story.
Red Hen. The little red hen was always willing to reach out and accept the help throughout the process. She opened the doors to her neighbor at every step. When she found the grains of wheat she immediately established a plan. She understood if she planted the grains of wheat she could eventually produce enough bread for everyone. She called her neighbors and asked for help and no one wanted to help so she did it alone. When the wheat grew, she asked for help cutting it down. Now when they turned her down they provided some reasons that really spoke to what was in their hearts. Even though they would all benefit from the bread, in their mind they were not getting “paid” to do it and it was not in their job descriptions. One did not want to lose their unemployment benefits by actually working. So she did it herself. When it came down to the actual baking of the bread, she asked again if they wanted to help and once again they all turned her down. Their reasons ranged from losing their welfare benefits by working to discrimination if one was the only one who chose to help. So she baked the bread alone. Here is what I want you to see in the little red hen. She knew what needed to be done. She asked for help and after everyone turned her down, she got the job done alone. She did not let the other’s attitudes stop her from doing what she knew needed to be done. It took longer, it was harder, but she said within herself, if no one else helps me, I will get this job done. When the bread was done and she refused to share, they called her names, picketed her home and even turned her in to the government.