When I was a child one of my favourite stories was that of the Little Red Hen. For those of you not familiar with this tale, it is about a chicken who decides to bake some bread. She approaches a different animal in the farmyard to help at each stage of the bread making process but is always met with the same response, ‘No, I will not help you.’ The Little Red Hen’s standard reply to this refusal of help is, ‘then I shall do it myself’. Eventually, she manages to produce a delicious loaf of fresh bread. Then all the animals show an interest in helping her to eat the bread! It is at this point that she says with great satisfaction, ‘No, I shall eat it myself’. I loved this story as I was a very independent child and ‘doing it myself’ was the standard retort to anyone who sought to help me in any way. I have been thinking about this story quite a bit lately as I am sometimes tempted to feel like the Little Red Hen in being proud enough to believe I can do without the assistance of anyone else and in not wanting to ask for help because I might get turned down. When this happens I need to remind myself that more often than not people can’t help, not because they don’t want to, but because they are already busy or because they are fearful of stepping out.
God does not want me to do it myself, and He always provides me with enough people to work in partnership with so that we are each blessed in the giving, as well as in the receiving. I have also begun to recognise that wanting to do it myself is more about the fear of rejection than a desire to be independent. If I don’t have to ask for help, then I won’t have to cope with people saying no. But if I don’t ask for help, then I deny others the opportunity for doing good in our community, and we are all the poorer. As was articulated in a reading on my Pioneer Mission Leadership Course, ‘we all have a part of the wisdom’. The biblical model for ministry is one of a body, it has many parts that fulfil different functions but all are essential to sustain the life and health of the whole. I, therefore, hope and pray that God will redeem the Little Red Hen mentality in me and replace it with the courage to keep asking for others to work alongside me and see our interdependence as a model of how we are all of immense value to Him and essential to His plan for positively transforming creation.