Earlier this year we took on five baby chicks 🐣. It seemed like a great idea in the moment. Before it was time for them to move out of their cardboard box in the garage and into their coop, we had lost two of them.
As the remaining trio 🐓 🐓 🐓 grew older, we moved them into their “penthouse” coop outside and soon began to notice two of our three were roosters. Since our primary hope was to get eggs from our new family members 🥚🍳, we realized we needed to invest in more baby chicks.
A few weeks ago, we attempted to introduce the two newest chickens to the flock. We invited our eight year old daughter to the “Welcome Home Party”. Let’s just say the original three chickens had a very different version of celebrating the new arrivals than we had hoped.
We quickly learned where the term “pecking order” came from, as our mortified daughter watched on in complete hysterics.
“He’s killing the babies,” I can still hear her yelling at the top of her lungs.
We pulled our two “baby chickens” (who are actually fully grown) from the coop and headed to Google for advice on how to try it again.
This week we built them a much larger area to play in. We moved the penthouse coop inside the new chicken playground and put all five chickens together to play in a much larger area. For the most part, they largely ignored one another … until it was time to put them in bed for the night. Instead of warmly welcoming their new beautiful friends into his home, the head rooster became a bully. Luckily, not quite as aggressively as he had done a few weeks before.
The next morning, the three older chickens headed out to play. The two younger chickens stayed hidden in their nesting boxes, probably completely mortified to see Mr. Bully in the downstairs dining area again (aka — out of the nesting box). We let nature be.
Shortly before lunch, a storm came through. The winds were strong enough to completely flip the penthouse over and the two newest hens were forced to venture out. Traumatic for all five birds, I’m sure, the “natural disaster” seemed to speed up their acceptance of one another.
As I stared at the photo of the aftermath of the storm on my phone, I realized there are a lot of life lessons these little birds have taught us in the last few weeks.
1. PLAY WITH THE NEW KIDS ON THE PLAYGROUND
Recently I was invited to speak at a civic club meeting. When I arrived, the President asked if I remembered being the first person to tell him hello about a year ago at a different function where he was the newbie and I was the more seasoned veteran. I didn’t remember that moment at all, but the fact that he remembered it stuck in my mind.
How often do we go out of our way to introduce ourselves to new people and make them feel welcome … in the office, at church, or at a social event?
Or do we tend to be more like the two groups of chickens, steadfast in our decision to stay on opposite sides of the room in our own little cliques?
Romans 15:7 reminds us to “accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.”
2. DON’T BE TERRITORIAL
Perhaps one of the reasons we don’t go out of the way to make others feel welcome is we are afraid of losing our own status.
In fairness, Mr. Rooster went out of his way to introduce himself during the initial “Welcome Home Party” we threw for the new hens, but he was a bully. His introduction ensured the two new ladies knew he was in charge, things weren’t going to change, and if they were going to stay, the new hens better know where they fit in the pecking order. His behavior made known to all that he really didn’t want the new hens in his presence.
How often do we do the same things to new people? Maybe we withhold information from them in an effort to maintain control of our perceived power. Maybe we rub our years of experience in their face in an effort to belittle the new ideas they bring. Maybe we ignore them completely because we don’t like change. Maybe we allow our ego to feed our need for self righteousness and peck others into their place instead of allowing our humility to serve them and welcome them into our fold with wings wide open.
Matthew 23:37 reads, “‘Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing.’”
3. BE FRIENDLY ALWAYS
It took a chicken sized “natural disaster” to draw the chickens together after their house flipped over during a storm. We see the same thing in the human world. Daily we have people in our own community who need our love, our help, and our support. But we often live divided … until a disaster happens.
1 Corinthians 13:4-7 reads, “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.”
God calls us to love one another always, not just in times of disaster.
When I first introduced the new chickens to their counterparts in egg production duties, I did it on my terms. It didn’t work out very well.
When I attempted the introduction the second time, I prayed over the playground area as we were constructing it. I asked God to bring peace and acceptance among the birds when we introduced them.
John 16:24 reminds us, “Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete.”
Without God, things are always more difficult. But one prayer and faith in His timing can change everything.