One of my reading goals for February is to read several books on business and economics. A recent spiritual gifts inventory reminded me that administration & business-model thinking does not come naturally to me. Considering my job title includes the word “administrator”, I am constantly seeking new ways to stretch myself so that I can better position the School of Performing Arts to be successful for the glory of God!
What better place to start than with the autobiography of the founder of one of the most successful Christ-centered business ventures of all time? Given the fact that Cathy also runs a very large non-profit ministry organization (the WinShape Foundation), I thought his insights might be particularly beneficial for me.
And beneficial it was. Unlike many business books, this isn’t so much a “how-to” manual as it is a collection of stories. I would liken the reading of this book to sitting down for a long conversation with a wise Christian elder… something from which we can all benefit! The book is very encouraging, particularly in seeing the way Cathy relied on God to persevere through adversity and tragedy.
Through his story-telling method, though, Cathy does impart lots of practical wisdom. One comment I found particularly challenging was when he was discussing how he makes crucial decisions so quickly and effectively. Does he pray about each specific business issue? “The Lord gives us a mind and the ability to use it. I pray for wisdom every day, and I believe He has granted me that. I prefer to seek His counsel on issues more vital than the day-to-day operations of the company.“
So often many of us, myself included, get bogged down in the waiting game. Worse, we use prayer as an excuse for inaction, looking for specific direction on issues to which God has already spoken by laying out his design for every aspect of our lives — including our work — in His Word. When we live lives of prayer and ask the Lord to grant us wisdom, we can live in the power of the Spirit, trusting that He will guide us into all truth (John 16:13). I also greatly appreciate Cathy’s family focus and heart for discipling children and caring for orphans.
There is not much in this book that will appeal to anyone in the secular business world, as it is written from the perspective of someone who has been asked to share Godly advice. Because he relies so much on prayer and the Holy Spirit, this book would probably be considered nonsense to most non-Christians. Much of the way he has run Chik-fil-A is completely contrary to standard business practice, but there is no doubt he has been very successful. Perhaps the most telling quote is from the book’s foreword by Frederick Reichheld of the Harvard Business Review. When he dug into studying Chik-fil-A’s business model, he was admittedly skeptical, but “finally came to realize that the accounting and economics I had learned at The Harvard Business School was flawed, flawed because their arithmetic did not capture the powerful advantages of loyal relationships… there is no clearer case study of the loyalty effect than Chik-fil-A“. Cathy’s book clearly lays the foundation of his belief in the power and necessity of loyal relationships in the word of Holy Scripture.
Buy this book here, or just check it out from the public library like I did!