Dan T. Cathy, president and COO of Chick-fil-A, spoke briefly at the EQUIP 2020 Global Conference in February 2012, held at Christ Fellowship Church in West Palm Beach. Chick-fil-A is more than just the fast food restaurant that made cows famous for saying, “Eat more chicken.” It is one of the largest family owned and successful businesses in the U.S. today with more than 1560+ units in the chain. Personally, I love their waffle fries!
Though the conference focused on biblical leadership, and specifically training international Christian leaders, Dan Cathy spoke on customer service—something all good leaders must be reminded of. I was struck by how well he had personally embodied the vision and how brilliantly he communicated it. From employees walking around the dining area asking if they may “refresh your beverage” and offering pepper from a large pepper mill for your salad, to coming outside with a large umbrella to bring you in from the rain.
I’ve been in the business of buying and selling talent (a nice way of saying “actors”) for about 30 years now. When I came to Hollywood in 1984, I was blissfully ignorant of the structures of power and fear that are so often the foundations of the entertainment industry.
I was also blind to the fact that God loved me and had a plan for my life in Jesus Christ. All these things would be revealed in time. In short, God found me, claimed me, saved me—and then asked me to become a talent agent. Through the hard-knock years of this profession, I’ve learned some lessons that have played dual roles in my life as a Hollywood talent agent and an associate pastor.
In my years leading in business and churches, I have known many people who claim to be leaders, but they are actually nothing more than controllers of people. There is a huge difference in leading and controlling.
In fact, the differences are almost exact opposites.
Here are some characteristics of environments that lead people:
I once took a course from Dallas Willard where he lined out 30-some-odd spiritual disciplines. “These are all tools,” he would say. “Use whichever ones help you personally.”
I’ve discovered one that wasn’t on his list. Call it the practice of mentoring.
It took me a few months, but when I found a pastor who could mentor me, his tutelage was so helpful that I haven’t been without one since. These are the traits I look for in my mentors:
I’ve got to admit—Mother’s Day is one of the most fear eliciting, stress inducing weekends of the year for me. It’s not so much about my ineptness in selecting a gift or honoring the mother of my house—Debbie—although, I’ve messed that up more than once.
No, the trepidation comes from the annual exercise of trying to prepare and deliver a message that navigates the veritable minefield of emotions that women are feeling on that day. You’ve got women who are: moms; want to be moms but haven’t been able to yet; mothers who’ve lost a child; women who’ve lost a mother recently; moms with wayward children; women who have lost their husbands; women who would LIKE to lose their husband; women who would like to find a husband; career moms; stay at home moms, etc. The list goes on.