It has been an exhausting week. Nagging back pain has persisted, & a powerful cold has rendered me useless. It has taken everything I have to simply go to work & get it done. And each day has been followed by tired communication at home & sleepless, congested nights. So any highlights have bordered on inspirational. If you have come by work to offer encouragement, simply say hello, call, text, or send a note across the worldwide web, you have encouraged me. It’s just been that kind of a week.
But the winner, going away, for maximized encouragement goes to a complete stranger that came into Chick-Fil-A on Tuesday night. It was my first night shift, I was feeling horrible, & really struggling to stay focused. And through some act of providence, I was asked to walk the dining room to check on our terrific customers. So off I went, table by table, offering to get refills, to take trash away, or trying to open up brief little conversations with the people that have chosen to spend their evening with us at CFA.
One table, 3 young adults, was particularly talkative. They asked about my job, the company in general, & our particular store. And one of the two ladies at the table said that she, ‘loves this place. The food is great, but I love being around Christians’. And this isn’t new. I hear a lot about the stances that CFA takes that allow an environment of faith & devotion to it [off on Sundays, Christian music playing throughout the dining room, etc.]. So I thanked her, & simply asked her where she worshiped.
‘Oh, I’m not a Christian. I guess I’m agnostic, but I don’t really care for organized religion.’
…. but she comes to CFA because she loves ‘being around Christians’. And she went on the explain that at CFA we ‘care about individuals’, ‘seem focused on serving people for no benefit to ourselves’, & we can ‘share what we believe by how we treat people’. And she’s comfortable there. She mentioned comfort last. Chicken was an added bonus. But the character & intentionality of our business & employees is what compels her to pay to spend time with us.
And I was stricken by the harsh reality there. She pays money to be around Christians. Her comfort, on a Kid’s Night no less [she had no kids with her], with total strangers who seem to value her on a basic level was reason enough to bring friends to fellowship at a business. And she doesn’t like church… she doesn’t believe in God.
‘Every life has a story’ – That’s what you’re taught at CFA. Everyone… absolutely every individual, is a unique person with a life story that is important & impacts their choices. So value each person as the individual that they are.
‘Second Mile Service’ – Any restaurant in America can serve customers. But at CFA, we strive to go that extra mile to maintain higher standards, practices, & customer expectations. From taking your food to your table, to responding to your gratitude with ‘my pleasure’, going beyond the norm is what makes CFA excellent.
I could go on with the policies & high standards at CFA, but these two strike me most immediately, because I learned them early in life.
Imago Dei – We learn in Genesis that every person is a unique creation, made by God, in the image of God. Matthew 25:40 makes it clear that God is certainly concerned with how we treat ‘the least of these [within all mankind]’. And the Great Commission of Matthew 28:19 challenges Christians to pursue discipleship relationships with the new converts. And true discipleship requires engagement in life-on-life relationships.
Outdo one another – ‘Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor… Contribute to the needs of the saints & seek to show hospitality.’ That a small sampling of Romans 12:9-21. And it is an amazing passage to read through. Encouraging yet demanding.
So, here’s what breaks my heart… CFA is not blazing a new trail in how to treat humanity. It may be unparalleled in the quick-service food industry, but loving people has been the letter of God’s Law for more than 2 millenia. And He did not exclusively contract the right to love to Truett Cathy. He gave the mission of love to all believers, & He called them the Church. So why in the world would someone prefer to pay to be around faithful worshipers, instead of freely attending a church service anywhere in town?
I love that I work at a place that cultivates an atmosphere that God requires of the Church. I am crushed that many churches are clearly failing to cultivate that same atmosphere. How are you showing love? What does your life reflect about your faith? And do you join other believers in worship at a place that seeks out the unbelieving? By no means should churches water down their adherence to God’s Word & the fundamental disciplines of the faith, but if I’m reading God’s Word correctly, the world is supposed to be drawn to God, through his agents of Truth & love… & that’s me & you.