Chicken Sandwiches and Glorifying God

By Mark A. Taylor

“Whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” Paul’s teaching to the Corinthians (10:31) has become the motto of Christians in all the centuries since then. But when we see a successful business guided by that value, we can’t help but notice. And Chick-fil-A, the country’s second-largest quick service chicken restaurant, deserves notice.

Chick-fil-A founder Truett Cathy tells would-be entrepreneurs, “Invite God to be involved in every decision.” In his book How Did You Do It, Truett? he writes, “We honor God with our success.”

Dee Ann Turner, vice president of talent at the company’s Atlanta corporate office, echoed that theme February 22, when she told a crowd gathered at Cincinnati Christian University that the company’s mission is to glorify God through its business.

What does that look like? Well, let’s start with a few numbers. According to the company’s website, Chick-fil-A’s sales exceeded $4 billion in 2011. In 2010, the company sold more than 282 million Chick-fil-A sandwiches, about 537 every minute!

But such numbers were not the thrust of Turner’s answers when Cincinnati Christian University President David Faust interviewed her at the school’s annual Leadership Luncheon. She talked about people, values, and service.

For starters, look again at her title. She’s vice president for talent, she said, because “talent” focuses on having the right people. “Human resources” focuses only on having enough people. She shared another of Truett’s truths: “If you select the right person, that takes care of the other problems.”

And how do you know you have the right person? Chick-fil-A is guided by an acronym focusing on service. “Great leaders serve,” Turner said. “I don’t know of a better leadership model than Jesus himself,” she added, referencing Mark 10:45. And so “serve” reminds Chick-fil-A that the best leaders are those who . . .

See and shape the future.

Engage others; work as a team.

Reinvent themselves continually; they’re lifelong learners.

Value results and relationships.

Embody the company’s values: (1) integrity, (2) generosity, (3) loyalty, and (4) excellence.

As I listened to Turner speak, I couldn’t help but think about the church. If a desire to glorify God can move a man to sell more chicken sandwiches, how can it move the church to achieve its mission?

And how might following each of the five points in this simple acronym make any church or ministry a brighter light in the community where it serves?

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