By Bob Haynes

Lessons From Chickens


Sometimes, on our journey in life, we come upon stories that really tickle our fancy. Usually we laugh and by the next day the story is mostly forgotten. Once in a while—for some reason—one such story just will not go away and stays with us long after we heard it. Here’s one that didn’t go away for me.

A man was driving along a rural road one day when he saw a three-legged chicken. He was amused enough to drive alongside it for a while, as he was driving he noticed the chicken was running 30 mph. Pretty fast chicken, he thought, I wonder just how fast it can run. So he sped up and the chicken did too! They were now moving along the road at 45 mph! The man in the car sped up again. To his surprise the chicken was still running ahead of him at 60 mph!

Suddenly the chicken turned off the road and ran down a long driveway leading to a farmhouse. The man followed the chicken to the house and saw a man in the yard and dozens of three-legged chickens. The man in the car called out to the farmer, “How did you get all these three-egged chickens?”

The farmer replied, “I breed ‘em. Ya see it’s me, my wife and my son living here and we all like to eat the chicken leg. Since a chicken only has two legs, I started breeding this three-legged variety so we could all eat our favorite piece.” “That’s amazing!” said the driver. “How do they taste?” “Don’t rightly know,” said the farmer. “We can’t catch ‘em.”

If you’re like me, you begin to wonder: “Can that story teach us something about ourselves? Is this about our quest to change things regardless of the consequences? Is it about how we try to make things better only to find out that there’s a flaw somewhere? I wonder if it may be both!

At first I thought the story might have a lot in common with all the economic struggles we have today. Could the story’s point possibly be linked to our endless quest for change? Not satisfied with what we have, we try every means to change things that aren’t broke.

Then I thought- maybe it’s like our quest for more and more, and our determination to modify things whether they need it or not—like adding 15 new models of the same automobile while not paying attention to the real problem of higher purchase prices and near- impossible operational costs.

That goes for a lot of things we see happening in government that simply sound good but often can add layers of bureaucracy that have no reason for their existence.

I think this story has some deeper meaning in our religious lives as well. Maybe we ran faster and faster down the wrong roads of “comfortable-ship” rather than “discipleship” and the truth of the original story and its message got lost somehow. Today, our places of worship may look more like “come-to” churches than “go to” churches in the sense of missions and outreach. Instead of changing what we have, maybe we should be reaching out to share with others.

The message of the three-legged chicken story says to me… sometimes changing things that appear to be a good thing at the time can make it more difficult in the long run. What’s the use of breedin’ three-legged chickens if you can’t catch em?’ Shalom!

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