Born in 1921 in a small Georgia community, he was widely acclaimed as one of the truly humble and yet, most recognizable figures in the global marketplace. He and his brother, Ben, started a business in 1946 by opening an Atlanta diner known as Dwarf Grill. That moniker notwithstanding, S. Truett Cathy was a towering example of enormous personal, family and business success achieved God’s way. In 1967, he founded and opened the first Chick-fil-A restaurant in Atlanta. Today, it is the second-largest quick-service chicken restaurant chain in the United States.
Mr. Cathy was a dedicated husband, father, grandfather, great-grandfather and had more than 150+foster grandchildren. He was probably best known not for his business success but for his spiritual backbone and courage shown by openly and unashamedly living out his uncommon faith in Christ in business. As I am sure you know, completely contrary to normal secular business practice, Chick-fil-A restaurants are closed on Sundays…to allow employees to have the opportunity to attend church, worship the ultimate owner of Chick-fil-A and spend quality time with their families.
Our greatest fulfillment lies in giving ourselves to others. —Henri J.M. Nouwen
Mr. Cathy was also known for his boundless generosity. He was a living example of Henri Nouwen’s quote. Mr. Cathy was no Scrooge nor one who said good enough is acceptable. Instead, he emulated God…The Greatest Sharer!
He once said, 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. He lived from a heart full of genuine gratitude and thankfulness, knowing that joy was his reward for freely and graciously serving and sharing with others…not just money and material things, but generosity on an elevated plane…selflessly giving of himself, his love, his time and his prayers.
Mr. Cathy did not seek material wealth or use it to hoard for self-security or personal recognition. Instead, he was true to the Scripture: To whom much is given, much is required. He used massive God-sent wealth to bring smiles to the lives and put hope in the hearts of many, while glorifying God by sharing, serving, helping and caring for others…continually making meaningful contributions to individuals, families and communities.
C.S. Lewis said, Nothing you have not given away will ever really be yours. Mr. Cathy demonstrated that truth…putting his energy, love and money where his mouth was. For example, he founded and provided ongoing funding to the WinShape Foundation which serves and helps young people succeed in life through scholarships and other youth-support programs. Included in its efforts are foster care homes aimed at providing hands-on-parenting and creating a positive family environment to nurture and nourish needy youth. Its youth camps are designed to preserve the Christian faith and build Christ-like character in camp participants.
Closing Food for Thought
Less hoarding, more sharing. —Max Lucado There is no happiness in having or in getting, but only in giving. —Og Mandino Your influence is determined by how abundantly you place other people’s interests first. —Bob Burg
So what is that law that all genuinely difference-making leaders practice?
The Law of Serving and Sharing: Exceptional leaders are thankful-hearted, service-minded individuals who gladly and bounteously share themselves and all God-given resources with others.
When you live, serve and lead like Mr. Cathy, you will awaken to Eternal Truth…that you have tremendous riches to share…far more than mere material wealth. And you will experience the joy they enjoy.
Francis of Assisi said it this way: It is in giving that we receive. When you live and lead the Law of Serving and Sharing, you’ll experience the opposite of resignation to living with less. You’ll discover that bounteous serving and sharing are not loss at all—they are the highest forms of investing. Moreover, their dividends are increased abundance, especially the qualitative kind!
Riding a roller coaster is thrilling, but unconditional serving and unmeasured sharing of yourself and material and all God-given resources are absolute blasts and the best investments of this lifetime! Being a grateful-hearted, service minded individual and crazy sharer is an investment portfolio to be proud of and a legacy worth creating, preserving and passing along to others!
About the Article and Author
This article is an excerpt from Cecil O. Kemp Jr.’s leadership book titled: Follow The Leader (Secrets to Being a Genuinely Difference-Making Leader).