RoosterI grew up on a dairy farm. In addition to cows, we had horses, pigs, chickens, dogs, and cats. When you spend your formative years on a working farm, you should expect some animal husbandry to slip into your conversation now and again. So I shouldn’t have been so surprised when I said, “You can’t expect a rooster to lay an egg!” I was on the phone with my friend who serves as a church staff minister. She had called to tell me the latest in a long, long list of what a particular church member had done. During her first week at the church, the member came by her office to spell out what her predecessor had done wrong and  how she could learn from that and do better. Later my friend was in a committee meeting, and this member informed her, “We’ve never done it that way before, but if you think it will work, we can try.” And the stories go on and on. Often my friend calls to tell me this person’s latest antics, but this time her patience was thin. My friend was angry because, yet again, she was dealing with “his disruptive nonsense.” When she finished venting, I blurted, “You can’t expect a rooster to lay an egg.” There was silence, and then a giggle. She queried, “What are you talking about?” I said, “Expecting this church member to act differently is like expecting a rooster to lay an egg. Egg laying is not the role of a rooster, and woe is the farmer who stands around waiting on a rooster to lay an egg.” I pointed out that this church member has never once led her to believe he is going to behave differently. He told her who he was at their very first meeting. He questions her decisions, suggests other methods of completing tasks, and is generally skeptical of her leadership. Why does she expect him to behave differently? My friend countered with, “So I can’t hope for better?” Yes, we can hope for better. We are people of faith and we always hope for God’s grace and goodness to be evident in our relationships. However, not all of our neighbors live out God’s presence in the way we hope or expect. Some relationships are contentious, but rather than expecting the other person to change roles, maybe we should remind ourselves of the role the other person has. Because of this relationship, my friend has challenged herself to examine her motives and processes. Because he always asks, “Why should we do this in this way?” she has learned to know the reasons for her decisions before she arrives at a meeting.  In many ways, the antagonistic church member has made my friend a more effective leader. He has pushed her to grow by always asking the hard questions and by pointing out the weaknesses in any plan.  Oh, it would be nice for this church member to agree with me about how wonderfully gifted my friend is and to be her advocate rather than her antagonist. However, advocate is not his role. Rather than expecting his role to change, my friend and I are trying to value what he brings to the ministry and not get overly agitated when he acts like a rooster. He is just doing what he does. Tammy Abee Blom is an ordained Baptist minister, regular contributor to BWIM’s blog, mother of two amazing daughters, teacher for children’s Sunday School, and lives in Columbia, South Carolina.