By now you’re no doubt familiar with the fact that Dan Cathy, President & COO of Chick-fil-A, has suddenly become the focus of a tremendous amount of attention as a result of comments he made in an interview with Biblical Recorder. After being reposted by the Baptist Press, the article was picked up by major media outlets, which have labeled Cathy and Chick-fil-A everything from “activist” to “anti-gay.” The resulting backlash ranges from The Jim Henson Company back-pedaling on previous partnerships to the opening of a Chick-fil-A location being blocked by a Chicago politician over claims of “discrimination.”
K. Allen Blume, the Biblical Recorder editor who interviewed Cathy, insists that Cathy’s words have been distorted. “Many of the reports turned the [the original story] into a negative,” he said.
Sadly, all the distortion and controversy have caused the most important things Dan Cathy said in that interview to be ignored. The vast majority of the interview focused on the idea that Chick-fil-A, which had sales of over $4 billion last year, operates according to Biblical principles.
Blume added that during their conversation Cathy also said, “We’re a business that serves the public, all people are welcomed into Chick-fil-A, and frankly we do not feel called to weigh in on a lot of social activism that’s taking place as it relates to the definition of the family, but we do definitely want to encourage strong families.”
Now, when I talk about Biblical principles and Chick-fil-A, I’m not talking about whether a business is open on Sundays or not. Dan’s father, Truett Cathy, made the decision to operate only 6 days a week when he began in 1946. Whether a business chooses to take that approach or not is, in my opinion, not a key indicator of its commitment to Biblical principles.
What I’m referring to is the underlying commitment to make decisions based upon Scripture. It’s the idea that the Creator of all Wisdom knows things we don’t know, and that we can apply ourselves to the pursuit of mining His Word for knowledge that we can apply to every part of our lives.
I’ve had the privilege of hearing both Truett and Dan publicly share along these lines in the past. Having observed their organization over the last 20 years—whether interacting with their franchisees, managers or even front line staff—I’ve seen plenty of evidence that this is their pursuit.
The Kingdom and Servant Leadership
One example cited in the Biblical Recorder interview is the “mission to provide customers with ‘second-mile’ service—exceeding the highest expectations of a typical fast-food restaurant.” This is built upon these words of Jesus:
“And whoever compels you to go one mile, go with him two.” (Matthew 5:41 NKJV)
Jesus taught His disciples this way:
“…but whoever desires to become great among you, let him be your servant.” (Matthew 20:26 NKJV)
In other words, in the Kingdom of God, he who serves best… wins! This simple example goes far beyond the customer service experience at the fast-food counter. An organization that has worked to implement servant leadership as a business practice will in many ways—and at all levels—look completely backward from other businesses.
Chick-fil-A has, in my opinion, done an exceptional job at endeavoring to structure their organization in a manner that they believe reflects this idea. And that is no small undertaking.
“God wants to give us wisdom to make good decisions and choices.” – Dan Cathy
Ultimately… it comes down to who you look to and where you hope to find the answers you need to be successful in your life and business. Chick-fil-A won’t do everything right. But as an organization that models the pursuit of Biblical Wisdom, they are an example worth following.