Are you a duck, cat or pig? Are you a little red hen? Are you enjoying a cruise? Or are you a member of a lifeboat?

Are you a little red hen

2 Thessalonians 3:6-13 (NIV)
Warning Against Idleness
In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, we command you, brothers and sisters, to keep away from every believer who is idle and disruptive and does not live according to the teaching[a] you received from us. For you yourselves know how you ought to follow our example. We were not idle when we were with you, nor did we eat anyone’s food without paying for it. On the contrary, we worked night and day, labouring and toiling so that we would not be a burden to any of you. We did this, not because we do not have the right to such help, but in order to offer ourselves as a model for you to imitate. 10 For even when we were with you, we gave you this rule: “The one who is unwilling to work shall not eat.”
11 We hear that some among you are idle and disruptive. They are not busy; they are busybodies. 12 Such people we command and urge in the Lord Jesus Christ to settle down and earn the food they eat. 13 And as for you, brothers and sisters, never tire of doing what is good.

The little red hen is a children’s book it’s an old moral folk tale thought to be written in Russia..

It’s a good example of what Paul was talking about in this passage, the pig was enjoying himself rolling in the mud, the duck was enjoying the pond and the cat was enjoying the sunshine, whilst the little red hen did all the work.  The little red hen asked them to help – but the answer was ‘Not I’, it wasn’t until all the hard work was done and the fresh bread was made that they then wanted to help her eat the bread.. But at that point she said ‘No thank you’ and ate it all herself..

The pig, duck and cat were very capable of helping but they didn’t want to help do the hard work of planting, harvesting, or baking.. but they wanted to enjoy the results. 

Think about your family, is there one person who does everything, whilst the others just enjoy the results?

Or do you all work together.

Church is like a family as well, it takes a lot of people to run a church.  Is there just one or two people running around doing everything?

Paul wrote this to the church in Thes because there were experiencing problems.  Someone had written pretending to be Paul telling the church that Christ’s second coming was happening. 

So, some of them at Thess had given up their jobs and all their responsibilities.  They thought they were being spiritual by giving up everything, but remember there were no benefits at the time of Jesus, so those that weren’t working were relying on the church for everything.  Some of them were working and running the church whilst others were just enjoying the fruits of the labour.
Paul was writing to address this problem.  Not only were they not working but they were spreading panic amongst other Christians and trying to tell them to do the same. 

In verse 10 Paul says “If a man will not work, he shall not eat.”  Paul was addressing those that could work but had given it up, they could work but had chosen not to.  He was trying to shake them into action.

Paul was not saying that we shouldn’t look after the poor, disabled or disadvantaged. 

God worked at the beginning of time, he created the world in 6 days and on the 7th he rested, so from the very beginning God set us an example. God set Adam and Eve to work looking after creation. 

Work is a gift from God not something to be negative about, and whilst we complain about working when you are out of work there is nothing more you want than to be back in work.  In fact it is a very worrying time for you and for your family if suddenly there is no work.

There is a good analogy of two different kinds of boat one a cruise ship and one a life boat.  I wonder which boat your church is?

Is it a cruise ship where people gather together to enjoy the cruise, most of the people on board are passengers that have paid to be on board, they are there to rest, be looked after, to be served; the rest are staff – running around to keep everyone happy.   

Or is it a life boat, in this boat there is no time to rest, nobody is looked after, they serve each other, they all have a role to play.  They are there to help people, to save people.

What is our role in church? 

Is it to please everyone, to serve everyone?

Is it to sit back and just enjoy being in church?

Is it that we should all work together to reach out to help people outside of the church?

Paul tells us in verse 13 “never tire of doing what is right”.

As a church family we need to decide why we are here?

As individuals we need to think about our role, how can we help?

Do you have a little red hen in your church? 
Someone who does everything and asks for help but ends up doing everything on their own?

Are you a family where only one person runs around keeping everyone happy?

We are all part of God’s family, a family where we are all equal, and God calls us all – we all have a part to play, whatever our age or stage of life and no part is too small or insignificant.

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About Michelle Bailey

Reverend Michelle Bailey is the Rural Officer for the Bishop of Brecon and Swansea  She previously worked in Children's Ministry and was ordained in the Church of England. Her blog includes ideas on presenting concepts of faith to young children to the age of eleven and furthering faith development in an educational context. Michelle currently lives in Wales and is also developing a rural ministry blog.
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