Archive for July, 2012

This Chicken is no Coward!

Tuesday, July 31st, 2012

During the summer of 2012, a first time earth-visitor would wonder just what this villain Dan Cathy had done. After all, government leaders, celebrities, and droves of common citizens railed against him and his Chick-Fil-A company threatening boycotts and calling them bigoted, intolerant, discriminatory and other slurs unfit for print.

Could he be CEO of the company that paid a $210 million settlement related to federal charges of deceptive marketing tactics against its customers?

No. That company is Capital One.

Perhaps he ran a government gun-walking, “Fast and Furious” scheme that put weapons into the hands of Mexican criminals, resulting in the death of Border Patrol agent Brian Terry?

No, that would be the United States government.

Doesn’t he produce movies and television programming so violent, virulent and vile that they regularly inspire and encourage sexual immorality, suicide and mass murder?

Nope, that culprit is Hollywood.

Dan Cathy is president of a family-owned chicken sandwich chain of 1600 plus restaurants. The offense he committed was to exercise his free speech right and share a biblically-based view on the merits of traditional marriage. That’s it. Period. End of Story. He didn’t shout, swear, get personal, lie, cheat, flip the bird, steal, embezzle, dodge taxes, commit adultery, father an illegitimate child, threaten or kill. He merely spoke biblical truth from his heart. Secular society’s response: “How dare you!”

“Did he really say that out loud?”

The fact that Chick-Fil-A is owned by a Christian family who lives and promotes biblical principles is no secret. Most know they don’t open on Sundays, and many are aware their WinShape Foundation supports long-term foster care programs, summer camps for more than 1900 kids annually, scholarships, marriage enrichment retreats, and more. What has offended a pagan populace is that Dan Cathy is convicted and courageous enough to publicly articulate his belief in the Bible’s definition of traditional marriage. In fact, someone like Cathy, who fears God more than men has always confounded secularists; they can’t sway, intimidate or control such people; thus they demonize them. His boldness also unsettles two groups of Christians:

  1. The “Christians-lite”; a churchgoer who readily confesses Christ with his mouth but denies Him with his lifestyle.
  2. The faithless Christian businessperson: he remains silent amidst social controversies fearing it will hurt business, not trusting God to replace what he may lose through his obedience.

“His views are antiquated!”

The outcry over Cathy’s promotion of traditional marriage might leave one to believe his stance is fringe when the opposite is true. Actually, the fact a far-left president, media, and entertainment industry supports same-sex marriage is evidence it isn’t mainstream; a fact proven by polls showing most Americans oppose it. Further evidence of its unpopularity is the reality that in thirty-two states where citizens had an opportunity by ballot to express their preference for traditional marriage, they did so thirty-two times.

The charges levied against Cathy and Chick-Fil-A by his detractors can be summed up in six words: bigotry, intolerant, discriminatory, and not inclusive. Are these accusations valid? Judge for yourself:

Bigotry

“Dan Cathy is a bigot!”

Morality isn’t bigotry. If it were, God would be history’s most renowned bigot. After all, He outlined uncompromising stances on sins like adultery, lying and homosexuality throughout the Bible.

To clarify the bigotry issue, consider that the dictionary defines a bigot as: a person obstinately or intolerantly devoted to his or her own opinions and prejudices. Ironically, by definition, those attacking and threatening a Christian like Cathy because of his biblical convictions are themselves guilty of religious bigotry and discrimination.

“Pssst…Christians are low-hanging fruit.”

It’s ironic that celebrities, politicians, and ordinary citizens quick to chastise Christians who promote traditional marriage give a free pass to Persian and Arab countries where homosexuals are imprisoned and executed. Evidently, it requires less courage and risk to bully a Christian and boycott his chicken sandwich than to offend a Saudi and refuse his oil. Perhaps by turning Chick-Fil-A into a high profile piñata, same-sex proponents expect to make the price of opposition to gay marriage so steep others will cower from publicly living their values.

“What does God say about homosexuality and marriage?”

Like all Bible-believing Christians, Cathy bases his values on the word of God, who he believes knows better than us how we should live.  To understand a genuine Christ-follower’s position you must know what the Bible says about both homosexuality and marriage.

The Bible describes homosexuality as a grave sin (Gen. 18:20), declares that homosexuals will not inherit the kingdom of God (1 Corinthians 6:9-10), and labels it a shameful error punishable by a penalty you’ll receive within your soul (Romans 1:26-27).  It also refers to homosexuality—not homosexuals—as an abomination (Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13). The definition of abomination is “loathsome and disgusting.” Incidentally, if these scriptures offend you, your argument is with God, not with Christians like Cathy.

God defines marriage in Genesis 2 as being between a man and a woman; Jesus reaffirms this in Matthew 19. This makes clear how God expects marriage to be carried out. Isn’t Dan Cathy permitted to say aloud what his God has declared to be true? Or in America do we now tolerate free speech from everyone except Christians?

Many today—including misguided Christians—argue we must change the definition of marriage to “fit modern culture”. However, Christ-followers who actually read their Bibles dismiss this error based on the words of Proverbs 30:6:  Do not add to his words, or he will rebuke you and prove you a liar and Deuteronomy 4:2: Do not add to what I command you and do not subtract from it, but keep the commands of the LORD your God that I give you.

Clearly, when prideful society attempts to defy its Designer and revise His words to accommodate their lusts, Cathy, and like-minded Christians draw a line. Why? God’s word doesn’t need anyone’s help.

Intolerant, discriminatory and not inclusive

“Dan Cathy is intolerant and discriminates!”

Gay activists want you to believe that to avoid being intolerant you must endorse homosexuality, despite your religious convictions. Total nonsense; the difference between being intolerant and principled is determined by the moral foundation on which one bases his stand.

Example 1: Cathy’s opposition to same-sex marriage is based on a perfect and loving Creator’s infinite wisdom, clearly rendering his stand to oppose God’s wishes as principled.

Example 2: Christians hating homosexuals are guilty of intolerance because their stand has no moral basis; in fact it contradicts Christ’s command in John 13:34: As I have loved you, so you must love one another.

Example 3: Cathy accusers, like the mayor of Chicago, who know that Cathy’s position against gay marriage is based on the Bible, but assert “Chick-Fil-A’s (the Bible’s) values aren’t Chicago’s values” and threaten to keep his company out of their city because of their Christian beliefs are guilty of bigotry, intolerance and religious discrimination.

Frankly, the accusations that Chick-Fil-A discriminates against homosexuals are foolish. The press would have you believe there is a separate entrance, dining area, restroom and water fountain for gays, and would prefer you remain ignorant of Chick-Fil-A’s Facebook page which  affirms:  “The Chick-Fil-A culture and service tradition in our restaurants is to treat every person with honor, dignity and respect—regardless of their belief, race, creed, sexual orientation or gender.”

As for claims the company’s stand against same-sex marriage makes them “not inclusive”, detractors should try to understand that inclusivity in Christianity means loving all, but not sanitizing, compromising with, legitimizing, accepting or validating sin. They also need to grasp that if, to be hailed as inclusive, a Christ-follower must endorse or promote behaviors God has called abominable the Christian is content to fail completely.

I have always loved Chick-Fil-A’s food, service, culture and leadership. However, in a world where even venerable Christian institutions no longer shape culture, but are shaped by it I more than ever appreciate their unflinching courage to articulate and live Christian convictions—regardless of the cost. I believe God will replace every customer boycotting them and then some. Speaking for my family and myself, we’re delighted to eat their share.

Note: Make copies and distribute freely. For permission to reproduce in a publication email Rhonda@learntolead.com.

Stop Chasing the Snake!

Tuesday, July 24th, 2012

Many people believe that forgiveness is solely a religious topic or should be relegated to the subject of sermons. After all, what benefit can a discussion of forgiveness have in the real-world, white-knuckle business arena? To appreciate the scope of possibilities, we are wise to consider what it costs us to have resentment, bitterness, selfishness, envy, factions, grudges, turf wars, gossip, and even hatred exist within the walls of our organization because we, or others, will not forgive, reconcile, and move past wrongs and offenses. The following five thoughts will put the importance of forgiving and reconciling in perspective, and make clear its importance in building and maintaining vital relationships between teammates, associates, partners, vendors, competitors, and more.

1. Forgiving someone doesn’t mean that the wrong they did to you is right. It means instead that you are going to release the anger and bitterness you feel about what happened, move past it, and invest your valuable time, energy, and creative flow into activities far more productive than nursing and rehearsing past offenses.

2. Forgiveness doesn’t mean freedom from consequences. Forgiving someone for what they did to you doesn’t mean that there shouldn’t be consequences for their actions.

In many cases, you won’t have the freedom or power to apply incidental or legal consequences to those who wrong you, yet you may be tempted to exact vengeance nonetheless. Be careful. I understand and respect that different faiths handle forgiveness and consequences in various ways. For instance, my Christian doctrine tells me that vengeance is God’s because His perspective is perfect. He sees the heart, weighs motives & disciplines as He sees fit. As a result, I’m well advised to let Him do His job.

In other instances, you may have direct control over necessary consequences and will be expected to apply them to maintain a high performance culture. In such instances, you have an opportunity to balance forgiveness with consequences. For example, when an employee repeatedly lied to us about a performance issues we forgave him, but we still fired him because he violated a non-negotiable and clearly stated value that our company holds sacred. Because we forgave him, we weren’t bitter or angry towards him. Rather, we cared enough to confront and coach him to do better in the future, and earnestly wished this young man the best as he left our organization. In other words, we have forgiven him, but forgiveness didn’t mean he escaped the consequences of his actions. If he had committed a lesser offense, we may have given him a second chance. But we couldn’t afford to confuse forgiving this person with allowing him to compromise our engraved-in-granite value concerning lying.

3. Forgiving helps you more than the person you forgive. Sometimes people think they’re getting even with someone by not forgiving him or her, but the sad fact is that the offender may be barely affected by, or aware of, your unforgiveness. On the other hand, what you’re suffering as a result of bitterness, resentment, anger and lack of peace may be severe.

If you go beyond forgiving the person and reach out to reconcile with them it matters not whether they accept or reject your reconciliatory gesture. You will have satisfied your leadership obligation to make the first move even though it was difficult. In the process you will have also strengthened your character, peace of mind, and freed yourself from the distracting guilt or anger associated with leaving an area of offense unaddressed or unresolved.

Think about it this way: if a poisonous snake bites you, what should you do first: kill the snake in vengeance or remove the venom so that you can begin to heal? Many people choose, in effect, to chase the snake to get even, failing to realize that their actions cause the poison to spread faster, guaranteeing a quicker death for them as the snake escapes unscathed. This metaphor holds true for those who fail to forgive in business or life. Rather than begin the healing process by removing the venom of the offense, they hold onto the poison, bond with it, rehearse it over again in their minds, and exacerbate their own inner torment. By seeking vengeance they die faster: emotionally, mentally, spiritually, and even physically.

4. Reconcile immediately. If you offend another, or are offended by someone else, don’t wait for the other person to make the first move. Take the initiative and go clear the air, and do so without feeling the need to prove you are right, or to judge someone else as wrong.

I learned long ago that it was important to forgive quickly, and also recognized that it is easier said than done. I never fully appreciated why speed was so important until July of 2002. I relate my story in chapter 5 of How to Run Your Business by THE BOOK. Here’s an excerpt from that passage:

My mother and I had endured a strained relationship for many years. As her health worsened, and I was able to spend less time with her because of my travels, I had a strong urge to reconcile with her during an evening I spent at her home during a visit.

The evening before I was supposed to leave back for California we sat in the living room alone, she on a couch and I in a chair across the room. It was just her and me. The moment was perfect. I wanted to go over and tell her how sorry I was for the hard feelings we had nurtured for too long and assure her that I cared for her and wanted to start over again in our relationship. But for reasons I still cannot explain, I sat pat. The moment soon passed, and others came into the room, and I determined that I would speak with her in the morning before she and my dad took me to the airport. That never happened. The next morning was hectic as I packed and left for the 90-mile trip to the Knoxville airport. As a result, I resolved to have my talk with her when I called the next Sunday. That never happened either. The Saturday before I was to call her, my mother died. The guilt I carried in the wake of her death was even greater than the resentment and bitterness I felt during the years we were estranged. When I finally said the words I intended to say for so long, I spoke them to her as she lay in a coffin.

Based on what you’ve just read, some of you may wish to stop reading this and make the call, write the letter, or pay the personal visit you’ve put off for too long.

5. Forgive yourself. Sometimes the most difficult person to forgive is you. Maybe it was the bad investment or wrong hire, a poor career choice, an ill-conceived acquisition or some personal character failing that caused loss or pain. Let yourself off the hook, because the same principles of forgiveness apply to you as they do to others. Until you get past your own failings, and move forward free from the anger, bitterness, or resentment you hold against yourself you will continue to suffer undue stress and distress within the depths of your soul. This will distract you, embitter you, cause irritability and make you far less effective in your leadership responsibilities than you should be.

For those of you determined to hold out and continue to begrudge bosses, friends, teammates, vendors, bankers, competitors or family, ponder the veracity of this insightful quote on the matter:

“Of the seven deadly sins, anger is possibly the most fun. To lick your wounds, to smack your lips over grievances long past, to roll over your tongue the prospect of bitter confrontations still to come, to savor to the last toothsome morsel both the pain you are given and the pain you are giving back; in many ways it is a feast fit for a king. The chief drawback is that what you are wolfing down is yourself. The skeleton at the feast is you.”—Frederick Beuchner