September 25, 2004
"Better To Build Boys Than
How does a corporate
leader who is also a deeply committed Christian behave differently from
other businessmen of nominal faith?
Consider S. Truett Cathy, 83, founder of the Atlanta-based Chick-fil-A
restaurant chain. At one level he is quite similar to other businessmen:
successful. Since he opened his first restaurant in 1946, more than 1,150
restaurants have opened in 38 states. Sales in 2003 were $1.5 billion, and
it is the second largest quick-service chicken restaurant chain in the
Everything else is different. First, all Chick-fil-A's close on Sunday, a
big day for business. His son, Dan Cathy, 51, now the firm's President,
explained that his father grew up in a fatherless home, which his mother ran
as a boarding house. While his sisters laundered sheets, Truett helped his
mother cook. He did not mind doing so during the week, but he longed for a
divine day of rest on Sunday.
"He decided that if he ever opened a restaurant, he would not ask others to
do, what he was unwilling to do. Sunday was a special day for my dad. And
it has not hurt business. We demonstrated more sales in six days than
competitors who were open seven."
His father asserts, "It's the best business decision I ever made. We
realize we could do a large amount of volume that day but it's been to our
benefit. I think people go out of their way to eat with us six days a week.
I say let them eat somewhere else on Sunday and compare the food and
Dan adds, "There are also practical benefits. We feel better on Monday when
we have had the opportunity to rest on Sunday. Retail is a high stress
business. Pressure is constant. We allow 60-70 Chick-fil-A employees to
Second, Truett Cathy has used his day off to worship at First Baptist Church
of Fayetteville, GA and to teach Sunday School to 13-year-old boys for more
than 50 years. Nor is he just a Sunday Christian. His WinShape Centre
Foundation, which grew from his desire to "shape winners" has given $18
million in scholarships to Chick-fil-A employees.
He has opened 14 WinShape homes for foster children, giving kids who have
often been shuttled from one foster home to another - the opportunity to
have a "true, permanent home" with up to 12 children and a "mother and
Third, the business is designed to have a positive impact on young people's
lives. "Our purpose is to glorify God by being a faithful steward of all
that He has entrusted to us," says Dan. "We use this business as a front for
impacting young people's lives," both employees and customers. The
placemats do not feature a monster of the month, but character values.
Another charity focuses on strengthening marriages, such as a conference
center that helps couples in crisis.
Finally, Truett Cathy has just written a little book that would make a nice
gift for any father called "It's Better to Build Boys Than To Mend Men." As
Art Linkletter writes in the Foreword, "Never before in the history of
Western civilization has a generation of children been subjected to such an
avalanche of vulgarity, violence, drug abuse and sexual promiscuity."
Cathy's answer is simple: "God wants to work through you to change the life
of a child. Every child I know who overcame long odds and grew into a
responsible adult can point to an adult who stepped into his or her life as
a friend, mentor and guide."
He notes that 90 percent of all homeless and runaway children are from
fatherless homes plus 71 percent of school dropouts and 85 percent of those
in prison. As a father, grandfather of 12 plus 135 foster children he's
helped, Chick-fil-A's founder writes wise words of counsel:
"Stop arguing in front of your children."
"Don't consider watching TV with your children to be 'quality time.' You
may be in the same room but you are not together. Participate in activities
with your children. Play games."
"One of the quickest ways to turn sixteen-year-old children into prodigals
is give them their own car."
"It is much easier to hire a good attitude than to change a bad one."
"If our children are to remain pure, we must do three things:
- "Pray for them."
- "Model purity."
- "Talk to them about remaining pure. This is your responsibility as a
Truett Cathy "is one of the extraordinary people of my generation,"
concludes Art Linkletter.
30+ Years / 1700+ Columns
2017: Column 1861: Cohabitation: A Growing Problem - Part II
Cohabitation: A Growing Problem - Part I
Texting While Driving - A Killer
Why Have "Religious Nones" Tripled?
Norma McCorvey Roe of Roe v. Wade
The Worst Valentine: Cohabitation
Pornography: A Public Health Hazard
Christianity Gives Women Equal Opportunity
Sextortion Kills Teens
Assisted Suicide Is Growing
same sex marriage,
abortion and infanticide,