July 30, 2012
In 1970, my life moved from the theoretical and academic classroom to the nuts-and-bolts, do-or-die world of the marketplace. My school years had also been years of spiritual formation, through the influence of a good church and the campus ministry of Youth for Christ.
Within a few years, my career engagement brought me in touch with business leaders who were also serious Christians. Under the banner of the Christian Businessmen’s Committee – CBMC – they joined forces locally and nationally to make an evangelical impact on the commercial culture. The comingling of my make-a-dollar life wove together with my make-an-impact life, and my path for my future was in formation.
The greatest influences in my life were business leaders who were earning accolades for their excellence in business, but were also careful and deliberate about making the main thing the main thing: their commitment to the Lord Jesus Christ and his truth. Earning the right to be respected and heard, they used the platform of their professional achievement to bring recognition to the Gospel.
Some years ago, I met Truett Cathy, the founder of Chick-fil-A restaurants. Now in his 80’s Mr. Cathy was the classic post-WWII entrepreneur who did a seemingly inconsequential thing – a local restaurant – in an extraordinary manner, and the business’ growth took on a life of its own.
Truett’s son, Dan, is now the president/CEO of the privately-held business. Some weeks ago, Dan was asked about his – and, his family’s beliefs – and how they shape the way they do business.
Chick-fil-A is known for their restaurants’ food offering, but also for the culture that is apparent whenever you walk into one of their sites. They defy marketplace logic by acting in alignment with their deeply held values about the Sabbath: all of their stores are closed on Sunday, so that their staffs can give attention to the rest of their lives. Does it cost them, financially? Probably, but that’s not their primary measure of success.
Read Dan’s interview with the Baptist Press – and you’ll hear from his own perspective about the way they choose to conduct their above-reproach business. For over 40 years, business leaders like Truett and Dan have been what I aspired to be, and what I’ve given the last 28 years of ministry to stimulate in my – and, the next – generation.
In the last few weeks, the public media and political left have been on a scorched-earth campaign against the Cathys, and Chick-fil-A. Why? Dan committed cultural suicide by simply confirming that they – and, their resources – were committed to supporting God’s design for the family: marriage between a man and a woman, with a lifetime commitment. Heinous? You’d think so; it has triggered boycotts to “kiss-ins” – homosexuals occupying Chick-fil-As to do makeout sessions in those family restaurants – and lots of smoke (read Mark Steyn’s column).
When Starbucks’ president, Howard Schultz, spoke out in favor of gay marriage in January, no one challenged his right to his opinion. But, when Chick-fil-A’s president expressed his view, the tolerant, pro-choice, anything-goes culture went ballistic. What gives?
Leaders from Billy Graham to Mike Huckabee have offered their encouragement to the gracious Georgian restauranteurs in the midst of this firestorm. This e-mail blast isn’t innovative or unique, but it’s sincere and focused: I’m asking you to join me this week in supporting the right of Christian business leaders to speak their mind about what they believe without allowing the part of the world that is offended by goodness and truth to hammer them into silence.
This week, find an excuse to bring your business to the Chick-fil-A near you. Take orders at your office, and bring everyone lunch. My staff is spread across America, but I’m sending gift cards for them to go to Chick-fil-A and vote with their feet. Make sure you tell them at the cash register that you’re there to support the convictions that you share, with them.
We don’t “protest”; like some do, but we can sure be constructive and supportive. Won’t you join me?