This past Tuesday night, I had the opportunity to have dinner with two of my heroes. Dan Cathy is the CEO of Chick-Fil-A and Bill Hybels is the Senior Pastor of Willow Creek Community Church and the founder of the Global Leadership Summit. Our God has used these two incredible leaders to impact the world for Christ. There were six of us for dinner in Atlanta before Bill spoke at the WinShape Camp Host Rally with the Chick-Fil-A Foundation.
Here’s my five takeaways from our time together:
1. Never Stop Doing Ministry – Even though these men are at retirement age, they are not slowing down! In fact, it’s just the opposite. Both of these men are leveraging their God-given platforms and opportunities to further His Kingdom more than ever. In a culture where people do everything to get to 65, so that they can retire at the beach or a lake house and do nothing, these men are kicking it up to the next level. What an encouragement! Too many times people will say, “I will let the next generation do it” and back away. But, these are the people with the wisdom and experience. We need the Joshuas and Calebs to lead. Never stop until Jesus calls you home!
2. Go International – Bill Hybels is stepping back from day-to-day leadership at Willow Creek this coming October, but he said he is investing this next season of ministry by investing in leadership development in the 50 poorest countries of the world. I was inspired when he began listing theses countries – Nigeria, Egypt, Pakistan, Brazil and more – along with their populations. He challenged us all to invest time, energy and resources to make a difference for Christ internationally. We discussed how we have so much in this country, but the rest of the world has so little – not only food and other sustainable resources, but even Christian literature and leadership development. As Christ-followers, we need to be Christ to “the nations.” I am thankful for what our God is doing through Rolling Hills and Justice & Mercy International with mission trips, sponsorships, pastor conferences, and poverty relief, yet we must continue to do more. Jesus calls us to go to “the ends of the earth.” We must invest internationally.
3. Stay True to Your Principles – Dan Cathy asked, “Which day should we be closed when we open Chick-Fil-A restaurants in the Middle East?” Bill immediately said, “Friday.” Dan responded that this was a difficult topic for their family, as some are passionate about Sunday because it is “the Lord’s Day – the Resurrection Day.” Regardless of which day, I just love that they are even having the discussion surrounding the commandment, “Remember the Sabbath and keep it holy.” This, I believe, is one of the reasons that Chick-Fil-A has thrived: they stay true to their principles. They can honor God and their employees can have a day of rest, as well as attend church with their families. Many say it costs Chick-Fil-A over $500 million a year to be closed on Sundays. However, they would say that God blesses when His people stay true to His principles.
4. Camps Matter – We were all together because of a WinShape Camp Host Rally. Through Connect Ministries, there are WinShape Day Camps in 92 cities partnering a church with a Chick-Fil-A in a community for Christ. There were over 700 leaders at this Host Rally! Bill talked about accepting Christ at a Christian Camp unto his first spiritual leadership position at a Christian Camp and how the first person he led to Christ was at a Camp. He is passionate about this and so is Chick-Fil-A. There is so much incredible spiritual power as we help children and students (and adults) get away from the distractions of our day lives and truly focus on Christ and His Word. Sending our kids to Camps, and even being counselors at Camps, is so important. This – the front line of ministry – is something we need to help develop. This year, we are hosting our own Rolling Hills Summer Camps for children and students in June and a WinShape Camp at Rolling Hills in mid-July. I can’t wait to see what our God will do as He raises up the next generation for Christ!
5. The Impact of a Dad – Dan spent a good bit of time talking about his dad, Truett Cathy, who started Chick-Fil-A. Dan lit up talking about his dad being a godly man who invested in Christ, his children, church and chicken. Truett taught 7th grade boys in Sunday School for over 50-years at his home church. It is he who made the decision to be closed on Sundays. It’s been estimated that Truett was worth over 6 billion dollars when he died, but it wasn’t money that made him – it was Christ. On the other end of the table, Bill talked about his dad – but his dad was not a believer (until just before he died). Bill’s dad never told him that he loved him or ever embraced him, and Bill said that this still has an strong impact on his life. Dads – you are so important. The impact of a father on his children can leave an impact on generations. Nonetheless, regardless of whether you had a great dad or not, you do have a Heavenly Father who loves you. You can hold on to Him and find your worth and value in Him. Although Dan and Bill had very different dads, both came to their own personal faith in Christ, and God is using them to impact the world.
It was an awesome night being with these two incredibly godly men. I pray I can listen, learn and live my life for the glory of God as they have (and continue to do). I pray this also for you. I pray that you know that God is not finished with you. There is still breath in your lungs for a reason, and I believe your best days can still be ahead. May you be encouraged in the Lord, and invest your life in what truly matters.