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Remembering Truett Cathy

S Truett Cathy, Founder and Chairman of Chick-fil-A, poses for a promotional photo in an empty Chick-fil-A store (Credit: truettcathy.com)

My co-worker, Evan, and I went to Chick-fil-A today for lunch in memory of Truett Cathy, the founder of the fast food chicken establishment.  We prayed that his family would feel the comfort of the Lord’s presence as they morn the loss of their patriarch.  

Cathy said that he would like to be remembered as one who kept his “priorities in the right order.”  Let’s examine his priorities.  Most people know that he kept his restaurants closed on Sundays so his employees could have a day of rest, honoring the biblical commandment to remember the Sabbath and keep it holy.  But that’s not the only way that Cathy demonstrated his desire to keep things in order.

“We live in a changing world, but we need to be reminded that the important things have not changed. I have always encouraged my restaurant operators and team members to give back to the local community. We should be about more than just selling chicken, we should be a part of our customers’ lives and the communities in which we serve,” Cathy said. That’s one of reasons that Chick-fil-A has remained a privately held company.  Cathy explained that “as a public company, I’m sure somebody would object to our generosity.”

In a profound statement Cathy revealed how he ran his business: “I see no conflict whatsoever between Christianity and good business practices. … People say you can’t mix business with religion. I say there’s no other way.”  If Jesus Christ is our King, everything we have and do is a part of his Kingdom.  We can’t ask the Lord to rule in our hearts yet barricade him from accessing certain areas.

With this in mind, Chick-fil-A has been offering scholarships for employees (and even non-employees) to enroll in Rome, Georgia’s Berry College since 1984.  This past June, 30 years later, Starbucks made headlines when it followed suit with scholarships for its employees to attend Arizona State.   Cathy’s generosity set the example.

With all this focus on charitable giving to local communities and taking good care of its employees, it would be easy to assume that Chick-fil-A was barely surviving financially.  In fact, even with half the locations, it outperformed KFC last year.   

“Nearly every moment of every day we have the opportunity to give something to someone else – our time, our love, our resources…I have always found more joy in giving when I did not expect anything in return.”  Cathy is right. Wherever we are today is our mission field.  You may not be able to provide a scholarship or give beyond your tithe today, but if you believe in Jesus Christ you have the greatest treasure of all to offer: the Gospel.

What are you being called to give today?