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The Role of Christ in the Life of Business

As we all catch our breath, let’s open with prayer. Father, first, I just thank you for all these men being with us this morning. Your Son’s Beatitudes said, “Blessed are they that hunger and thirst for righteousness,” and clearly this is a group that hungers and thirsts for righteousness. So, Father, it’s our prayer, the prayer of all of us is that You would feed that hunger and quench that thirst through what is said, by You, through me today. That’s our prayer, Father. We pray these things in the name of Jesus. Amen.

A couple of quick things. This is my second time to give this talk. It will be a different talk than whatever I said the first time, I can assure you of that!  But it does remind me of the story that’s told about the evangelist that went all throughout Southeast Asia.  Just tens of thousands of people were drawn to his sermons and, many, many, many souls were saved. And, the last place he visited was Seoul, Korea, and he went to, it was then Pastor Cho’s church, the largest in the world. And, he got there in the afternoon, he was going to preach that night. There were a number of people in the sanctuary, and one of them came up to him and said, “Evangelist, we’re so thrilled to have you, we’re so excited that you’re here, and we are now praying.  We’re praying for tonight”. There were about 40 people there praying. “And, just thank you so much for being here.” And, the evangelist said, “Well, I’m excited too. I gave this sermon in Manila a couple of days ago to tens of thousands, and they just loved it, and it was so exciting! The Lord used it mightily, and I’m just going to do that tonight.” And, the little Korean looked at him and said, “Pastor, we’re not praying for any retread!”

This may or may not be a retread, I don’t know. But we’re gonna talk, I’ve been asked to talk on this subject, and that is the place of Christ in the life of business. And, interestingly enough, I was going to do it anyway, but you’ve opened the way. I want to begin by, we have an issue, at least in the United States. And, understanding that Christ should be with us every minute of the day. When we’re doing business, we sort of think that spiritual things are to be done with nonprofits or in the Church, but not in the business. When we’re in business, we’ve got to make some money. We’ve got to work hard. It’s a competitive marketplace out there. We gotta be tough. And, therefore, why Christ?

And, I hope by the end of the talk today, I’ve answered that question. But I think Bob Buford’s book, From Success to Significance, illustrates some of the reasons that we think about significance occurring when we are outside of work, and success occurring when we are inside of work. And, you might even infer from that, that what we’re doing at work has no spiritual significance. And, that’s just not the case. I think spiritually, in terms of whatever I may have done to further the Kingdom of God, I did in the workplace.  I do nothing but nonprofit work now. Nobody will pay me! And, I’m sure it’s significant, too.  I mean, it is with God’s Grace, significant. But what you’ll do today in the world of work is for God and significant. And, if you don’t think that, well, it’s just very hard to be a Christian in most of your life. You can’t tell Jesus,” I’m going to leave you in the car. I’ll be back at five o’clock.”  You’ve got to understand, He’s there with you, and He wants you to succeed. And by His Grace, He wants to equip you and empower you, and give you the wisdom to practice whatever you do in the business world in a way that brings Him glory.

So, that’s really what we’ll be talking about today. But the first thing we need to understand, the only thing I need to get across in this talk if, by the grace of God, I can do it, is in the world of work, you are working for the Kingdom of God, and that work is very significant. And, if you don’t think it is, you really should get out of it. Because you are, I assume I’m not going to ask for a show of hands, that I’m talking to Christians. And, you don’t want to spend 40 hours a week, 60 hours a week, doing something that is outside the purview of the Lord’s guidance of your life. So, we’re going to try to understand this general subject in the light of Scripture.  This book is Reflections on the Existence of God. Richard can write that book. I’m not smart enough to. But if you don’t believe God exists, then what I’m saying isn’t going to help us very much. It is premised on that. In fact, I really, I’m not a philosopher, as Richard is. And I had all the questions that he addresses in that book.

And, all of a sudden, when I gave my life to Jesus Christ, I was 37 years old, which is older than some of you in this room. This thought occurred to me, I hope it was given to me by God Himself or His Holy Spirit. And, that is, “I’m going to believe the Bible as it’s written.” And, I sort of short-circuited what Richard is doing.  And, those are issues that, perhaps we all wrestle with.  But the Source of wisdom and understanding for me, and perhaps I trust you as well, will come from the Bible.

So, what does the Bible have to say about the world of work and what does it have to say about God in the workplace? That’s what we’re going to talk about today. And, we can’t read beyond the first chapter of Genesis without getting an answer to that question or at least getting on the right track to answer that question. Because, in Genesis 1, God talks about creating us, about creating human beings. And, He says, “Let us make them in the image of God, in Our likeness, let them be.”  Then He goes on to say, “Let’s give them dominion over the earth and all that is in the earth and everything that lives on the earth.” So, in the image of God, and we are to have dominion over this earth. And then it says, “And then may they be fruitful and multiply.”  So, that’s it. You don’t have to go a lot further than Genesis 1. In the workplace, you are assuming dominion over this earth. I don’t know what this group does. I see a banker there. Who would ever have thought that a banker could be serving God? I’m sorry Richard! He’s gonna call my loans.  I know he is, just immediately!

But bankers do serve God. I mean, where would we be without the capital that banks infused into the world of work? We build bridges because we have bankers and we have architects. When you’re building a bridge or designing a bridge, you are carrying out the commission that God gave mankind in Genesis 1. So, we have lawyers, we have architects. Whatever we do.

Fairfax, that’s my wife, by the way, decided we needed a new roof. Well, the old roof would have lasted another five years, but when she decides we’re going to get a new roof, we get a new roof!  And, I don’t even know the roofer’s name, but he was a good Christian man, the guy in charge of the crew. He was doing God’s work when he was putting a roof on our house. It’s part of taking dominion over this earth and taking something that was wearing out and making it new.

So, whatever your work is, we’re within the commission that God gives us in the first chapter of Genesis. Many, many, many years, let’s just say 1500 years. By the way, I’m a conservative. And, if somebody, if there’s some thought around for 1500 years, I think it’s pretty valid. But, for 1500 years, there was a clear dichotomy between the work of the Church, the priesthood and the work of everybody else. And, a priest was just a higher order of Christian living than were the people that baked the bread and built houses. And then, Martin Luther came along, and Martin Luther says, “Bunk!” And, he says, the specific words that he used, “The milkmaid.” What’s the other word? Well, I’ll just take it with the milkmaid. Or, “The common laborer is just as much a child of God and doing the work of God as is a priest.”

Martin Luther was absolutely right about that. There’s no difference between what a minister is doing or what a missionary is doing in terms of carrying out the commission of God, then what the roofer is doing, or what the yardman is doing, or what the banker is doing, or the lawyer is doing. We’re all doing God’s work. We’re all helping God, through Jesus Christ, take dominion over this world. And, for each one of us in our callings, and I’m going to talk more about callings. God has a specific plan for you. What you’re going to be doing today, hopefully as part of that plan, if it’s not part of that plan, then get into prayer before you go to work, so you’ll try to figure out what He wants you to do. But in Ephesians 2, I can’t give you the verse, it goes like this. “You, we, each one of us are God’s workmanship created in Christ Jesus to do the work, which He prepared beforehand for us to do.”  That’s Ephesians 2.

You’re God’s workmanship and you are to do the work which He has prepared beforehand for you to do. That’s at 10:30 this morning. It’s at three o’clock this afternoon, if you nap a little bit at 2:30, maybe He planned that.  He just said, “This guy’s going to be a little lazy, and so, we won’t ask him to do very much.  In Psalm 139, exactly the same thing.  “All the days in my life in Your book were written before the first one came to be.” So, God’s got a book for you. A day-by-day book, an hour-by hour-book for you. You are here according to God’s plan to live into His purpose. And, most generally, that purpose is to make dominion and to be fruitful and to multiply. And, that is what the world of work is all about. And, Jesus is to be our Lord in that work. Of course, He has dominion over the universe. He created the universe, all things, the Bible says, were made for Jesus.

Okay, think about that. All things were made for Jesus. So, you work for ABC company. Is it one of the “all things” or is it not? I mean, does all mean all in the Bible, or does it mean partially?  All things. Your company is for God. And, the truth of the matter is, it may not be doing the things that a Godly company might do. And you say, “I’m going to leave.” Well, maybe you should leave. I’m not going to get into that. But most definitely, in whatever jurisdiction, small jurisdiction, you might have within that company, you’re working for Jesus Christ. You are carrying out His commission for you in that work.

You’ve got the blue book. I assume many of you have it. Let’s turn to page 280, and there’s just a little poem by George Herbert, which I love and it’s worth reflecting on. It’s up at the top of page 280. “Teach me my God and King in all things Thee to see.” That’s Biblical by the way. All things. Does it say just when I’m doing Christian work, nonprofit work?  “In all things Thee to see, and what I do in anything, to do it all for Thee.” That’s worth thinking about. “A servant with this clause makes drudgery divine; Who sweeps a room, as for Thy laws, makes that and the action fine.” So, we’re working for God in all things that we do. That is Biblical teaching. And, the best way to understand our life is to go to the Bible and just ask, “What does it have to say about the world of work?”

In the blue book, and I’ll get to it a little bit later, there’s Appendix C. Appendix C, in just those verses that, at the time I wrote the book in 2010, I had jotted down, and I had a separate list of them, which were to give me guidance in the world of work. They didn’t relate to anything other than the world of work and there was a ton. There’s pages of verses there. I have added many to them since then. But particularly, I want to go to Colossians 3, and I think it’s roughly Verse 23. “Whatever you do.” You got it? Whatever. We’ve got a lawyer in the room? No, really? Do we?  We’ve gotta have a lawyer. What does whatever not include?

Nothing!

That’s right! Whatever. So, would whatever cover our work? “Whatever you do, work at it with all of your heart as working for the Lord and not for men. It is Christ Jesus that you are serving.” Whatever you do, work at it with all of your heart. And, it is the Lord Jesus you are serving and not man. And, he makes the same point, three or four verses later. “Whatever you do in word or in deed, do it in the name of the Lord, giving thanks.” So, the Bible is saying that what we are doing, day-by-day in our work, we’re working for Jesus Christ.

Now, let’s take it a step further if we will. And, that is, when you go to the world of work following this talk, Jesus is going to be there with you. It can’t be that He will not be with you. Well, it can be. I mean, He’s going to be there. You can say “Get lost,” and Jesus will get lost. I mean, He’s very humble in that regard. He doesn’t try to force Himself on anybody. But in Galatians, we read this, and this is in Chapter 2. “Through the law, I died to the law that I might live to God. It is not I that lives, but Jesus who lives in me.” He says, “I’ve been crucified with Christ.” It’s not I that live, but Jesus who lives in me.

Think about it. He lives in you. Now, are you going to leave Him at the door when you walk into the world work? Or is He gonna come in there with you? Because He’s in your heart, and you can say, “You know, Jesus, get lost.” But we don’t do that. He says He is there with us. There’s a great prayer, it’s also in this appendix. It’s in Ephesians 3, and there’s an appendix in this book, which is Appendix B. It’s a collection of the prayers of Paul, for the churches and for the Christians when he was in his ministry. Those are great prayers.  I don’t think there’s any that I love more than that in Chapter 3 of Ephesians. “And there, Jesus is praying,” somebody get me started with it. Terrific, Bill!

I’m reading pretty well!

“I pray that out of God’s glorious riches, He may strengthen you, strengthen us, in our Holy Spirit. In our inner being, that Christ will dwell in us through faith.” Are you with me? That’s a good way to start every single day. “Can I be strengthened, dear God?  In my inner being, through your Holy Spirit. With power that Christ would dwell in my heart, through faith.” And, Christ does dwell in our hearts through faith, when we enter the world of work.

So, if the title of this talk is “The Role of Christ in the Life of Work,” He has dominion over your life, in the life of work. He’s there with you. His role is Supreme. There is no dichotomy between what you do before you retire and what you do after retiring. What you’re doing in the work is very significant, very significant.

If you have success too, that’s fine. There’s a fella, all of you know him. I won’t name him, but I’m sure you all know him. We were talking and he had made a fortune, plenty of money to retire. And, he says, “I want to go into full-time Christian work.” I said, “You’re already in full-time Christian work. You’re in full-time Christian work in your offices.” And, I said, “You’ve made a lot of money. You’re very smart. You can build another company, make a lot of money, and give it to the Kingdom. You can be significant and successful.” That’s what he’s done!  But his thought was from success, from success to significance. Don’t think that way. What we’re doing today, what you’re doing today, is very, very significant.

Now I will go to Appendix C. You don’t need to turn to it. There are just a bunch, probably 40 or 50 verses. And, over a period of time, all of those verses were sort of in my consciousness, and they helped me in my work. I’m not saying I was blessed because I was praying these particular verses. You can turn any one of them into prayer. But I would take a trip out of town, get into a hotel room, and spend two hours on those Scriptures, just praying. Praying every Sunday afternoon, I would spend an hour or two praying these verses, specifically with respect to work. Because, Jesus is going to have dominion over our time and space in work, and we might as well know what He thinks about it and what He thinks about it is what is in his Word. So, you can look at Appendix C. My blue book is pretty much torn up, so I’ve rebounded, but I continued to add to it. It never comes to an end. But the Bible is chock full of instruction about how we have wisdom with respect to what we do. How we have success, by the way, in what we do. How we have the strength, how God equips us in what we do.

There’s a prayer that I use from Hebrews 13, “Equip me with everything good for the doing of Your will and work in me what is pleasing to You.” That’s the way the author of Hebrews sort of finishes that letter or that sermon. Jesus will equip us to do our work. How many of you have issues that are difficult?  Give me a hand. Jesus is going to help you work through those issues.  He really is.  He will give you wisdom. He will give you strength. He will give you understanding. I’m not saying he will necessarily give you victory. By the way, raise your hand if you like the word victory. There is somewhere in Appendix C, a prayer, well, a teaching in which I’ve made into a prayer from Proverbs, and it says, “He is a shield to those whose walk is blameless. He gives victory to the righteous ones. He guards the path of those that follow Him.” And, then it goes on to say, “Do not fear sudden disaster or the ruin that overtakes the wickedness, but God will be your shield, your strength and will not let your foot fail.” That’s in Proverbs. I pray that over and over again.

I had some problems, I mean, that brought me to my knees. How many have problems that would bring you to your knees? He’s there to help us. He really is. He wants to give us wisdom. He wants, even as we may not succeed in this problem and that problem, to use it in such a way as to build our character because He knows where we’re going to be going down the road. We don’t. I’m not a prosperity preacher, because if we have nothing but prosperity, we’re not going to be very good disciples of Jesus Christ. We’ve all grown most when we’ve had challenges that bring us to our knees, and that’s how we begin to understand that Christ is there for us.

Milton Friedman wrote a book, he says, “The social responsibility of any business is to maximize profits.” I’m sort of a Friedman fan, but that’s a bunch of junk. Excuse me, I shouldn’t say that. That is not the social responsibility of a business. Fortunately, in my time, the Friedman thought was being supplanted by that of Peter Drucker. I don’t know, I’m an old guy. Maybe Peter Drucker is not still around in what you read. He wrote a book called The Practice of Management. It was the best book on management.  I mean, he was the leading authority on management for many, many years. And, he says, “The purpose of a business is to create a customer.”

Then, another guy named Edwards Deming, who really led the Japanese industry out of the chaos that was created by World War II. And, a lot of the ingenuity that you see in Japanese business and products comes from the thought of Deming. And, he became very influential in the United States and was when I was in the business world. First principle; focus on the customer. Second principle; continuously improve. Third principle; equip and empower the worker. So, if you knew Deming, you’re focused on your customer, and you were focused on your work.

I’m not going to get into a debate as to whether Friedman has it right, but I’m going to say this. This guy named Michael Novak with American Enterprise, and he says that 1776 was the most important year. He doesn’t say it this way, I’m saying it. In Christians or in mankind, taking dominion over this earth. And, if I asked you what happened in 1776, we’ll all say the Declaration of Independence.   That’s not what Michael Novak was writing about. 1776 was the year that Adam Smith published The Wealth of Nations. And, in The Wealth of Nations, Smith, for the first time, made it clear that our creative instincts and our productivity should rest in the free marketplace, should rest in a marketplace where self-interest is driving us. What is his famous quote? “It’s not the benevolence of the butcher or the baker that puts food on the table at night, but they acting in their own self-interest that does it.” The baker’s down there looking at a customer, and he knows his business is going to succeed if his bread is good, and you come back to his store.

But in 1776, there had been, essentially, no improvement in the lot of mankind over the last thousand years. If you lived in an industrial, what is now an industrial nation such as France, many percent of the people used 80% of their income just to buy food, just to feed their family. And, it wasn’t very fancy food by the way, either, I guess. It was bread. That was in 1776. Then, the principles of the free marketplace began to be adopted, especially in the United States, but also in Europe. And, the standard of living increased immensely, immensely. And, still today, I go to Rwanda, I’ve been going to Rwanda for about 20 years. And, that country is flourishing because for the last 20 years following the genocide, it has been governed by free-market principles. As a result, communication, roads, housing, electricity, all of that is, is being generated in Rwanda because the people are being released through the free market. How much is the United States producing through free markets that helps the rest of the world?  Bill Gates is about to eliminate malaria worldwide with what the free marketplace has produced for Bill Gates.

You are in a free marketplace and it is very, very productive. So, if God has said, “Multiply and be fruitful,” what you’re going to be doing today is all about multiplication of the resources of this world and making them fruitful in an economic way for other people. And, Jesus is there with you. So, the role of Jesus in the marketplace, especially. And, it’s a real privilege by the way, for that reason, to be in the United States, to be in a world where free markets can thrive. We could have been born in North Korea for Heaven sakes, or Cuba. China is flourishing. It may be ruled by the Communist party, but it’s flourishing because wherever there’s free markets, the Chinese are extremely resourceful people, and they are putting free markets to make China a more prosperous place.

I want to talk about calling if I might. The bottom line is each of you is called by God, most likely to continue to do whatever you’re currently doing. If you go, I think it’s 1 Corinthians 7:23. Paul says, with respect to new Christians, “Wherever you were, whatever your situation was when you were saved, stay there.”

I would just like to talk about myself. I don’t like to say it this way, but I’m going to. I was saved when I was 37. My first thought was to go to seminary. I mean, for Heaven sakes, “God, why have you got me?” I was in practice in law, but I don’t think I felt the same when I went to protect it. “Why am I a lawyer? Why am I in insurance when I can be full-time for you?” So, let’s go to seminary. I messed around with that with my wife, and she says, “You ain’t going to seminary.” And, there were other reasons too, but I sort of fought. I sort of fought with God and I said, “Open that door.” Finally, I didn’t hear an audible voice, but it took place within a 10-hour period. He said to me, “You ingrate! I’ve given you a great job. I’ve given you a wonderful family. I’ve situated you in Birmingham. Now just bloom where you’re planted”.  So, you’re called to your workplace and perhaps, God wants you to change. I’m not saying He doesn’t. But the presumption ought to be, “I’m not going to. I’m going to serve God right where I am. I’m going to try to make whatever I’m doing, I want to glorify God. And, I want him to give me the wisdom. I want him to give me the resourcefulness.” And, in all likelihood, you will flourish in that particular position.

But the point where we start with the idea of calling is whatever your work is, you’re not called principally to that work, primarily to that work. You’re called to belong to Jesus Christ. That is what the calling is. “Come and follow me.” He doesn’t say come and be a lawyer. He doesn’t say come in and be an architect. He says, “Come and follow me.” Paul begins his letter to the Romans. There are many verses I could use on this point, but his letter to the Romans, it’s written to blah, blah, blah, “And all who belong to Jesus Christ.” So, you are called to Jesus Christ. He has put you where you are. You’re called to your job because you’re serving Jesus Christ in that job. And, He has planned for you to be in that job. All your days were written in His book before the first one came to be. But our calling is to Jesus Christ.

Let’s go back to the title of this talk, “What is the Place of Jesus Christ in the World of Work?” All of us, as Christians, are called to belong to Him. He’s right there with us. He’s in our heart. He has a plan for us. He is Lord. He has dominion over our lives. Are you with me? So, are you called? We’re called to Jesus Christ first. And then, we’re called to serve Him and the work that He has given us. And, He will indwell us. And by the way, we are in Him as well. If you go to John 15, the vine and the branches. There, the whole teaching of Jesus is “You will dwell in me and I will dwell in you.” And, He also says one other thing, and this is said a number of times in Scripture. “Without me.” What does Jesus say? “Without me” what do we have? “Nothing.”

Can that be so?  No, you can probably make a ton of money, even without Jesus. Some people do, but you, who have given you lives to Jesus, who’ve looked at him and said, “Be Lord,” it is nothing if you’re doing it on your own. That’s a choice we have. Jesus has some teaching on money. Some of the reasons that we can think in terms of success and significance. He says, “You can’t say serve God and money,” and he’s absolutely right. You can’t serve God and money, but that does not mean that money can’t serve God.

And, this is, now, Richard may never ask me back. That’s okay. But I would love to give a talk on one of Augustine’s dictum. And, he says that “Righteousness,” he uses the word virtue, “is love rightly ordered.” If we just get that right, everything else will fall into place. And, the top of love is always God. “Thou shall have no other gods before me.” That doesn’t mean there can’t be money in your life, but that money is to serve Jesus. It’s to serve God. You’ve got to order these things. Family is important in your life, and you love your family. You love your spouse, your wife, and your children. But in the right order; God comes first. You love them. And, through that love, He provides for them and He is glorified.

That chair can be somewhere in the order. I hope not in the top 20 but just think of your life that way. What do you love? I’m not going to embarrass you, but if I used Alabama and Auburn as an example, and say, do you love their football? I probably would get hands from 90% of the people in this class. Be sure that love is in the right order! Just think about that. How much passion we have for competitive sports, in relation to the passion that we may have for God over Jesus Christ.

There are a couple of prayers, a couple of verses. Every verse that relates to business, for me, is a prayer. But I’ve tried to give you a little bit of the flavor of the prayer, this in Ephesians 3.  He finishes that prayer. He says, finishes it this way, with, really, sort of a doxology.  “Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all that you ask. Imagine through My power at work within you.” You’ve heard many discernments on that, haven’t you?  God is able to do immeasurably more through power at work within us.

First, that particular statement comes only after we are told that Jesus will dwell in our hearts through faith. And, then the next Word, when you go to Ephesians 4:1. He says, “Be worthy of the calling to which you have been called.” And, how does he say we are to be worthy? He says, “With all humility and gentleness and patience, bearing with one another in love.”

So, you’re going to be in your office, and in a macro sense, you’re serving Jesus Christ as Lordi n your office. In a macro sense, you are fulfilling God’s commission, and that is, you are making this world productive and fruitful and multiplying it. But in a micro sense, which is just as important, the way you work today, and don’t hold me to this. I’m just going to hold you to it, Okay?  That’s fair enough. I’m teaching.  You’ve got to be humble and gentle and patient.

In the Wednesday talk, here was a guy in here. He actually worked for me.  And, boy, it’s so hard for me to say that. Of course, if I let him, he would have stood up and he says, “Nabers was never gentle!” “Bearing with one another in love.” That’s how we take Jesus into the workplace. He’s going to give us the wisdom, He’s going to give us the strength, He’s going to equip us.  But also, we have His Holy Spirit, so we can be patient and gentle as we work through things, even in a competitive world. I’m not going to get too much into the world of competition. That’s another one. But I’m trying to talk about calling now. That is what we read in Ephesians 4:1.“Be worthy of the calling to which you’ve been called.” And then, “Behave with all gentleness and patience and humility, bearing with one another in love.”

2 Thessalonians 1:11. This is Paul praying for the Thessalonians. “We constantly pray for you that our God may count you worthy of His callings.” We”re accountable in our calling. We need to be. God’s counting it; count is just a subpart of accountability. “Worthy of your calling, and that by His power,” God’s power, “He may fulfill every good purpose of yours and every act prompted by your faith.” That’s a sweet prayer to have, isn’t it?  God, may I be worthy of your calling!  And then, God, with me today, whatever we’re doing, whatever the challenges are, through Your power, will You fulfill every good purpose of our company, of my work, of my unit?  And every act prompted by my faith?” So, calling is related to God’s power working through us to accomplish everything that comes from Him.

I’m getting closer. I want to talk a little bit about Truett Cathy. There’s a whole chapter in the book, Chapter 21, about Chick-fil-A. I imagine we all go to Chick-fil-A from time-to-time. Truett Cathy was a wonderful man, didn’t go to college. He got out of the Army after World War II. He didn’t serve valiantly, I don’t think he even left the United States. But he served and he was discharged. He went to the bank. Richard, I bet you would have loved to have been his banker! He borrowed $6,000 and opened up a house called The Dwarf House near the Atlanta airport. I think it had six stools at a bar and a couple of tables, and he served ham and eggs, sort of like the old Huddle House. I think he did that for 21 years. He started it with his brother. His brother was killed in an aircraft, so he’s doing it by himself. It was open 24 hours a day, but he was mopping the floors. He was flipping the hamburgers, he was washing the dishes, and he was closed on Sunday. Of course, he said, he said he was worn out on Saturday night. I mean, he didn’t go to the 10 Commandments. He just said, “I was worn out on Saturday night and so I was going to rest on Sunday.”

And then, this was back in the days, all of you too young to even know about these days. But there was once a day and a time when you could fly from New York to Birmingham, and you’d get a meal on the plane. So, the people that cater to the airlines were next to The Dwarf House and they were serving breasts on airline flights and they had some scraps. So, he started doing, sort of, nuggets there at the waffle house.  And, people loved chicken nuggets. No fast order place ever had chicken. Well, he had the first chicken in a fast food place. And then, he said, “Boy, they love these nuggets so much.” He started buying the whole filets and making a sandwich. And, that is how Chick-fil-A started.

At the time I wrote this book, which was 2010, he had 1500 Chick-fil-A’s. I guess he’s got three or 4,000 now. I don’t know. It’s still a family company. And, in fact, there is a covenant within the family, a generational covenant, that they’re never going to go public, that all of the stock is going to continue to be held within the family. The family is getting pretty large now.

So, in the early part of this century, about 2000. Now, Richard help me. When did interest rates get up, hit the roof? Early eighties? Okay. That about put him under. So, he went through this crisis and he couldn’t pay his debts. He couldn’t pay his loan. It was a $6,000 loan; I’m sure it was larger than that. So, he really got his family together and said, “Let’s go have a strategic planning session.” His son was Dan, and they started talking about how they’re going to pay their debt. Richard, I’m sure you love that kind of talk. And Dan said, “Wait, wait.  We’ve got to answer this question; What’s the purpose of this business?” And Truett was more practical with Dan. Truett said, “No, we’re going to talk about how to deal with our problems.” Dan said, “No, we’ve got to talk about what the purpose of the business is.” And, so they came up with this statement for the purpose of the business, and I want to share it with you.  It’s on page 255.

And, this became the two-sentence purpose of the mission of the company, a statement of the mission of the company.  First, to glorify God by being faithful stewards of all that He has entrusted to us.” That’s okay, isn’t it? It could apply to everyone in this room. I don’t know what you have outside of your work, what’s been entrusted to you inside of the work. But the purpose of your life, our lives, should be to be faithful stewards of whatever resources we have. That includes whatever intellect we have, whatever we have in our body, whatever we have with respect to financial resources, to glorify God. You ain’t here for any other purpose, and that purpose applies to what you will be doing today at work. Because Jesus is going to be there with you. And Jesus, His mission is to glorify His Father, us is to glorify Jesus, by being faithful stewards of whatever He has given us.

Number two, “To have a positive influence on all who come in contact with Chick-fil-A.” With you, with your company, with what you do.  I hate to admit this, but I’m going to. For 79 years, not really, but the adult part of that, I thought the book How to Win Friends and Influence People was just a bunch of malarkey. I mean that was, I’m all about character, and that’s just about superficial personality stuff. I read that book about three months ago and I said, “Why did I wait so long?” If you want to have an answer to the question, how do I have a positive influence on all who come in contact with you, go read How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie. I think it was first published in 1925 or something like that. And, it is nothing but Biblical wisdom. And so, what better statement of our purpose and working for God and serving Christ in the workplace or bringing Christ into the workplace. What better statement than these two sentences: be faithful stewards of all He’s given us to glorify God, and be a positive influence on everybody that comes in contact with you or your business.

So it sounds like that’s it, and that’s okay.  But let’s pray:

Father, this is a glorious day, and this is a day that we will go into the world of work, and just put in our hearts and in our minds, a sure and certain knowledge and faith that Your Son, Jesus Christ, is gonna be with us. He is going to be with us so that we will be faithful stewards of whatever is entrusted to us in our work today. Faithful stewards, so through that we can glorify You. And, Jesus will be with us so that we will a positive influence on everybody that we may come in contact with.  And, we even pray that, more broadly for our business, wherever our business touches anyone.  May it and our people be a positive influence on whatever that relationship is.  And, Jesus, what a privilege it is to be appointed, to be Your stewards here on earth, to be productive and to multiply, creative and to multiply, and to bear fruit.  And, let us never forget that is the reason we are here.  That is the reason You died. That is the reason our sins are forgiven.  That is the reason that You have given us the Holy Spirit so that in our work and in all that we do, we will bring You glory.  So that’s our prayer, Jesus.  And, we pray these things in Your Holy name. Amen.

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