This week the world said good-bye to one of the most courageous, innovative and faith-filled business leaders of our time. Truett Cathy, the founder of the Chick-fil-A restaurant chain passed from this life at the wonderful age of 93. Many people have spent time this week contemplating the significance of his life and I want to jump into the conversation.
Almost seven decades ago, S. Truett Cathy owned a small restaurant in Atlanta called the Dwarf Grill. It was way back then Truett conceived of what seemed at the time to be a crazy idea—make a sandwich out of chicken. Originally using meat that was left over from preparing airline meals, the rest is, as they say, history. In 1967, again in Atlanta, he opened his first Chick-fil-A restaurant. Today this has grown into a chain that has over 1800 stores and is now a 5 billion dollar company. It has greater sales than KFC—and has by far the coolest ad campaign EVER for a fast food restaurant. Cows suggesting that we Eat-Mor-Chikin is just plain funny!
But what I most admire about this man, and this will probably come as no surprise, was his willingness to shut down his restaurants on Sundays—all of them—every Sunday. This became and remains Chick-fil-A’s corporate policy, one he has instructed his heirs to continue. The stated purpose for this unconventional thinking is simply to free up their employees on Sundays so they could spend time with their families and be free to attend a worship service in their church of choice, if they choose to do so.
What surprises no one is the amount of backlash and criticism Truett received for this decision. Who thinks like this? When one begins to calculate the amount of lost revenue shutting down a restaurant during such a prime time guarantees, it would seem like Truett was a foolish business man. He was anything but!
What Truett embodied was a clear understanding of a very Biblical principle—God honors those who honor him! In 1 Samuel 2:3 we read these words, “Those who honor me I will honor, but those who despise me will be disdained.” To honor God often means you appear to be foolish in the eyes of those who don’t honor him. They don’t “get it.” Truett clearly did.
What is it that God is asking you to do that appears to others as foolish? Taking a stand on an issue that isn’t politically correct but is God honoring? Sharing your faith with others in the face of impending ridicule? Giving a tithe of your income to God and learning to live on less because you trust God to take care of you more?
I thank God for the example of this man. He is what a true leader is… bold, innovative and risk taking. I don’t think it’s a coincidence God blessed his business so mightily. Any way you cut it, Truett Cathy was anything but chicken!
So again, let me ask you, what bold thing is God leading you to do that would make you appear foolish to others? Can you trust God more than you fear ridicule? Only those who step out in faith will experience what only God can do. Don’t be a chicken!