Upon graduating college, Chick-fil-A was not the place I envisioned myself landing. Endless amounts of chicken and the growing infatuation for chicken (plus two pickles) sandwiches seemed less than the bright future anticipated. Thankfully, it was the exact job God planted me in to grow my love for people, not poultry. And there are a few lessons the church should and could learn from Chick-fil-A.
While my time with CFA recently ended, what I gained from the company never will. Forgetting the times I spilt three gallons of sweet tea on the floor and had to remake 150 homemade biscuits…
I’ll pass along the valuable lessons during the past 13 months that we can learn from Chick-fil-A.
1. Learn from Chick-fil-A: It’s my pleasure! Or is it?
Chick-fil-A is known for having the most caring team members around, workers who take pride and pleasure in what they do. While working at my most recent restaurant, many guests posed the question, “Why is everyone here so nice?!”
Here’s the secret: The hiring process for Chick-fil-A is brutal and hard to get through. Operators only hire the cream of the crop in group interviews and stacks of applications. If it’s not going to be their pleasure serving others, then Chick-fil-A is not the company for them. In the words of a former operator, “the paycheck is not the reason they should be applying at this company.”
When considering if a ministry/church volunteer position is for you or someone else, take a close look at the reason why. If serving others isn’t the top reason, it’s not a good fit for the church.
2. Learn from Chick-fil-A: Stop stocking Polynesian.
The first faces of a Chick-fil-A restaurant are the front counter crew. If someone on the frontline isn’t taking an order, their first trained reaction is to clean and their second is to stock.
Know what America’s favorite dipping sauce is? Most guess Chick-fil-A sauce, but it’s surprisingly Polynesian sauce. With a high demand for the beloved, tangy sweet-and-sour sauce, many on the frontline find themselves keeping occupied and being on task by stocking Polynesian when the lines get low.
Unfortunately, if all eyes stay too long on the task, the guests are ignored.
Where are our eyes in the presence of guests? Is it on the church budget, the worship team set up, the attendance … or on the needs of those we have a moment with? There’s a difference in completing a task and actually doing our job.
3. Learn from Chick-fil-A: Treat potential leaders like icebergs.
Ten months into my Chick-fil-A venture, I was transferred from a marketing director to a manager. Initially, I fought the change; while being a leader comes natural for me, running a restaurant does not.
Thankfully, my operator and Chick-fil-A as a whole view leaders as icebergs.
The part of an iceberg above the surface makes up only a rough 10 percent of the icy mass. Ninety percent cannot be seen, for the majority of an iceberg is below the water. If people are like icebergs, the 10 percent most look at represents skills and learned habits—like putting together an ice cream machine and counting registers. Those things can be learned! The larger 90 percent represents the conditions of the heart—humility, character, honesty, integrity, etc.
In the church, how often do we base people’s stature and positions on learned skills, aka the 10 percent? Character and persistence will be what takes a vision farther after volunteers burn out on their own competence and craft.