Pigs, Chickens and Leadership

Classic leadership riddle: In a bacon-and-egg breakfast, what’s the difference between the chicken and the pig?

Answer: The chicken is involved, but the pig is committed.

In leadership circles, the point is often made that we ought to find and develop people with pig-like commitment. However, I wonder about that. I can argue that idea both ways. On one hand, I want people around me who are committed to this cause to which I’ve given my life. People who own it. Absolutely, I want to serve Jesus with other people who are willing to die to self, take up a cross and follow Jesus. There is something to be said for the commitment of a pig. There is something to be said for a kind of all-in attitude that won’t take no for an answer and refuses to make excuses. This is what I want for myself and this is what I look for in people we hire at Mosaic and in people we invite into leadership. Pig-like commitment: Are you involved or committed?

On the other hand, there is this: a pig gives once. He may give a lot and it may be pretty awesome but at the end of his giving, he is done. There is nothing left. This is a one-shot gig for the pig, and not even a willing one. You might argue that the modern American pig is built for producing bacon, but I bet the pig would beg to differ. What the pig is doing is contrary to its nature. It doesn’t throw itself on a sword for the sake of your breakfast. This is a forced commitment.

What the pig does under great duress, the chicken does naturally. Laying eggs is what chickens are built to do. They live to lay eggs. And all things being equal, a chicken is compelled to keep laying, keep giving and giving. A chicken’s compulsion is not the same brand of compulsion as a pig, and a chicken isn’t done quite so quickly.

So who is the better player in this riddle — the pig or the chicken?

Here’s what I think. I think that as a leadership riddle, the answer is yes. A good leader has both the heart of a bacon-maker and the enthusiasm of an egg-maker — all in for the cause of Christ, but with delight and a sense of call to this work, to keep giving not out of obligation but with joy.

Are you a pig, a chicken, or — in the best sense of it — both?

Carolyn Moore

I follow Jesus.