More than just a food quote

S. Truett Cathy, the founder of Chick-fil-A, passed away today. In light of this, I thought it’d be appropriate to take a look at one of his guiding principles. You can find this quote from Cathy in every Chick-fil-A restaurant:

“Food is essential to life, therefore make it good.”

This is one of my favorite quotes, but not just because it’s about food. This quote is more than simply a cooking philosophy; it’s a life philosophy. The idea behind this quote is that we should focus on what we can give people, not what we can get from people. Many businesses have the practice of identifying a need and then making as much profit from it as possible. Something like, “food is essential to life, therefore make as much money as possible from it.”

Now, I’m not saying making money is bad. But imagine just how different our world would be if monetary gain wasn’t the primary goal. What if the goal was to bless others? What if the goal was to make the world a more enjoyable place to live in?

This philosophy has made quite an impact in the fast food industry. Chick-fil-A stores are noticeably different from all other fast food restaurants. And people love it. Normally, when I go to a fast food restaurant, it’s because I need food not because I enjoy going to fast food restaurants. Chick-fil-A is the only exception.

I’ve made this quote from S. Truett Cathy one of my life principles. My goal is to view life through the lens of giving, not getting. I want to love life, not just live life. Cathy wanted food to be more than just fuel for the body, but something to be enjoyed. I want to live that principle out in every aspect of my life. For example, I don’t want to be employed merely so I can make money (although that’s a good goal also). I want to be employed because I love what I do and I know I’m making the world better for others through what I do.

Basically, this philosophy can be summed up like this:

People before things. Others before yourself.

That’s it. People before things. Others before yourself. That kind of philosophy can change the world. S. Truett Cathy did in fast food. How can we do it where God has placed us?

Image courtesy of thecreativepaige.com

Image courtesy of thecreativepaige.com

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Just Because I Can

head buttNo one likes to argue. No one likes conflict. Or at least that’s what we think. That’s what we tell ourselves. But it’s not true. In fact, often we feed on conflict. We like to argue. We like going contrary to everyone else. Why?

God has created humans in an incredible way. We are complex, full of emotion and depth that I don’t believe anyone will ever completely understand. And one of those characteristics is our rebellious side. Yes, we all have one. Even the most compliant person has a part of them that wants to resist. Rebellion makes us feel independent and strong. We’re standing against something. And in some ways, that’s really good. If that rebellious nature is channeled right, it can make us stronger and better people.

Unfortunately, there’s a downside of our rebellious side. When we find that we have the strength and gut to be contrary to others, we then start exercising that just because we can. We feel good being different and strong and independent, so we want more.

Now, this is different from a good healthy critical mind. It’s really important that we are careful about what we believe and what we think. But sadly what can happen is we can move from healthy critical thinking to always looking for a bone to pick. This has happened to me. At times I’ve found myself intentionally looking for problems in what others are saying not because I want to be cautious in what I believe and not because I want to have an intelligent conversation with them, but instead just because I want to find something wrong just so I can be a little rebellious. I want to argue just because I can.

We express this tendency in many different situations. It may be in a dinner time conversation. Maybe a text. Maybe it’s Facebook. In fact, today I was tempted to respond to a Facebook post I disagreed with. But I didn’t. And part of the reason was because I knew that deep down I just wanted to disagree because I could. It wasn’t really because I wanted to engage in a discussion on the issue. I just wanted to be a little rebellious. I might have been right about my opinion, but my motive was wrong.

Let’s admit it, it’s fun sometimes to go against the status quo. It’s fun to shake things up. But don’t let that feed you. Don’t rebel just for the sake of rebelling. Don’t start an argument (as orderly as it might be) just for the sake of criticizing. Have a purpose. And be honest with yourself. I’ve found that sometimes I’ll create a purpose for myself just so I feel good about arguing. Basically I’m lying to myself, telling myself that I have a good reason to be critical and rebel a little, but in reality I just want to argue because I can.

calvin_arguingNo one likes people who are always correcting everyone else. No one likes people who always have to bring up something contradictory whenever they’re in a conversation. Don’t be that person. Choose your battles. Choose the ones that matter, the ones that you actually care about. The ones that don’t fuel your desire to rebel just because you can.

Be the kind of person that people enjoy conversing with because you can disagree respectfully but you’re not out to disagree for the sake of disagreement. Be uplifting. Be encouraging. Be wise in choosing to be contradictory.

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Modesty: A New Perspective

A young woman looking at clothes

Modesty. It’s an issue people have been discussing for years. A lot of years. And we still can’t come to an agreement. Maybe we never will. I’ve been thinking a lot about the issue of modesty for quite a while and want to share a completely new perspective on the issue. The focus will be modesty for women, but I believe that what I’m sharing can apply to both genders pretty equally.

So get ready for something maybe a little different than you’re used to when reading about the issue of modesty.

I’ve noticed that modesty has become an issue that’s a whole lot bigger than it needs to be. Here’s what I mean. The Bible makes it clear that purity of heart and mind is just as important as purity of body (Matthew 5:27-28). But a mistake that Christians have made is that they’ve inadvertently employed the power of suggestion to make things a problem that aren’t really a problem at all.

Let me explain. Throughout history, clothing fashions have changed a whole lot. It’s interesting to note that some of today’s styles would have been considered horribly inappropriate a hundred fifty years ago, and styles that were totally fine a hundred fifty years ago are today considered immodest. Why? Just for the simple reason that what society deems acceptable changes over the years. It’s how culture operates. And for us to say that the standards for styles today are better than those from a hundred fifty years ago just doesn’t make sense. For example, at one time in history, exposure of ankles was considered immodest and provocative, while exposure of additional skin elsewhere was completely acceptable. Today it’s the opposite. What was once considered immodest is now considered modest, and what once was considered modest is now considered immodest.

My point is this: it’s not how much skin is shown. It’s not where that skin is. It’s not about the tightness of the clothing. It’s not about any of the things we typically talk about in the “modesty talk.” Here’s what it is about. It’s about attitude and heart. The attitude and heart of both the girl wearing the clothes, and the guy looking at the girl.

In fact, I’m much more inclined to put more responsibility on the guys than the girls. When I see a girl and my mind goes in a direction it shouldn’t, my reaction is to change my thoughts and apologize to God for those thoughts, not to immediately think “wow, her clothes are immodest.” Why?

Because I chose to have those thoughts. I allowed my mind to go that direction. My attitude and my perspective is my choice and my responsibility. I control it. I can make a decision when I see a girl to either think things that are inappropriate and objectify her, or to view her as the beautiful woman God designed. And it’s completely up to me. My thoughts and my mind are controlled by me, not by anyone else.

A challenge I face, though, is that for much of my life I’ve had the impression that certain clothing or styles are “sinful.” But what that did was sensationalize them. The power of suggestion and curiosity is huge. Because I was led to believe that a certain style was sinful, my mind would go there. But as I’ve trained my mind to move away from those thoughts, I’ve been able to view styles not as “sinful” or “not sinful” but instead simply as a style. Guys, our minds are our responsibility. But removing the stereotypes sure would help. As I’ve been able to remove my preconceived beliefs about certain types of clothing, I’ve discovered that they are no longer a stumbling block. The style hasn’t changed. How much skin it reveals or covers hasn’t changed. How tight or loose it is hasn’t changed. But my mind has.

Intention-MattersI do have a few thoughts for girls as well. Because the issue of modesty ultimately comes down to attitude and heart, I think there is some responsibility on the side of the girls as well. I would encourage ladies to consider their motive and attitude for what they wear and how they wear it. Because it shows. I know that might sound strange, but normally it is pretty easy to tell why a girl is wearing what she’s wearing. I can typically tell if she’s looking for attention, if she just wants something comfortable, if she wants to look pretty, if she doesn’t care, if she wants to appear provocative. And that most certainly does factor into the equation. Guys are definitely going to have a tougher time keeping their mind pure if the girls around them are wearing clothing with the intention of getting the wrong kind of attention. So it is helpful for girls to be aware of their attitude and what they might be communicating through what they wear and how they carry themselves.

Also, ladies, it’s good to be aware of the kind of guys you’ll be interacting with. In Romans, Paul talks a lot about being aware of what could be a stumbling block to some. Depending on how guys have been raised and their background (among other things), certain styles could be a stumbling block. That doesn’t mean you should never wear that style, but it may mean not wearing it in certain situations.

Notice that in this entire post, I haven’t said anything about amount of clothing or how much skin should be allowed to be shown or how tight or loose clothing should be or whether one-piece swimsuits are more modest than two-piece suits or how skirts need to be a certain length or anything about necklines or anything like that. That’s because rules just don’t work. The Bible doesn’t make rules. In fact, it has very little to say on the subject of modesty. And when it does address the issue, the focus is primarily on attitude and heart. So who are we to make rules? Also, rules are made to be broken. Someone playing by “the rules” can be super immodest but get away with it and someone “breaking the rules” could be totally modest but restricted by the rules. It’s not about rules; it’s about heart.

To wrap this up…

Ladies, as a guy I would ask you to analyze your heart and your attitude as you choose what to wear. But don’t allow the stupidity of guys to limit you. You are beautiful. You are attractive. And that’s good. That’s what God intended! Guys, let’s take responsibility for our mind and our thoughts. Let’s get our minds out of the gutter. We control what we think. We control our attitude and our heart. It’s up to us. Let’s take some responsibility for what belongs to us and not shove it onto the girls. We are men. Let’s act like it.

If you’re interested in reading another man’s perspective on this, check out this blog post. I can’t speak for anything else on the blog, but thought this post was excellent.

Thoughts on this topic? Share in the comments below!

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You Get What You Expect

Take a quick look around your world, and it’s pretty obvious how much of a mess we’re in. Especially when it comes to young people. Young people think they’re entitled to everything, are disrespectful, and it’s pretty sobering to think of what the world will be like once the next generation takes over. If we were to plot this reality on a graph of 0-20 (with zero being as bad as possible and twenty being incredible), it might look something like this:Low reality

But there’s more to this graph. Reality can also be referred to as “results.” Why? Because you get what you expect. In other words, reality is the result of whatever you expect. So there’s actually two parts to this graph: results and expectations. And they are very closely related. Today, we have very low expectations of young people. You might think the reason is because the results are low. But it’s actually the other way around. We have low results because we have low expectations.2

When expectations change, the results will follow to match the expectations. So if you raise your expectations, then your results will rise.3

So what happens when you lower your expectations? The results decrease.5

This is the problem with today’s young people. Our culture expects “not much” from young people, so “not much” is the result. Young people play close attention to the cues given them by adults. And they respond. Society tells us that teenagers go through a rebellious stage. So parents expect their kids to go through a rebellious stage. And so they do. Not because it’s “natural” but because it’s expected. I never went through a rebellious teenager stage. Not because I’m unique, but because my parents didn’t expect me to. In fact, they expected the exact opposite. Results follow expectations.

So if we want better results from young people, what do we have to do? We must raise our expectations. Once our expectations rise, then results will rise to match them. And this trend will continue.7

Not only are we not getting good results by having low expectations, but what are we communicating? If I have low expectations of you, what am I telling you? That I don’t believe in you. That I don’t think you’re capable of something better. That I don’t think you’re mature enough. This is what’s being communicated to young people today. But here’s the deal. Young people won’t become mature unless they’re expected to and are treated like the people they’re expected to be.

Of course, this does’t acquit young people of responsibility for their actions. Not by a long shot! Young people can fight against low expectations. Yet, they might not even realize that there’s something to fight against. The environment young people live in has a great effect on them. I was able to fight against low expectations because of the environment my parents created at home. If that environment doesn’t exist, then young people might not realize that they should be fighting to start with.

If adults expect young people to waste their life, they’ll treat them like that, and young people will waste their life. That’s what we’re seeing today. Let’s reverse that! Adults, I ask you to expect more of us as young people. And we will rise to that expectation. Treat us like the people you want us to be. We will rise to the challenge. Because you always get what you expect.

What’s Your Standard?

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For everything in life, we have a standard. Whether it be a tape measure to determine the length of a board or a rubric to determine the quality of an essay, we use standards all of the time in every area of life. Some standards aren’t as obvious as a tape measure or a rubric. When we eat food, for example, we determine its quality by taste. We probably wouldn’t be able to explain how exactly we determine whether or not a certain food tastes good or not, though. Nevertheless, we still measure the quality of food against some sort of a standard.

What standard do you have for your life? How do you determine what’s a good choice to make and what’s not a good choice? How do you determine the path you’ll take in life? What do you use to measure how successful you are?

Whether we realize it or not, we’re using a standard to measure our lives against. Therefore, it’s really important that we choose our standard, that we have a standard we can point to. As Christians, the standard we should have ought to be pretty clear. God’s Word is the only standard we should abide by and measure our lives by.

Sadly, many Christians say that the Bible is their standard, but don’t actually practice it. I know it’s hard to recognize Scripture as my standard sometimes, when the Bible’s instructions are in conflict with my own opinion or desire. But it’s just a fact that honoring God isn’t easy. However, although it might not be easy, honoring God’s truth as your standard brings joy, peace, confidence, and satisfaction! What do you say your standard is? What really is your standard? The answers to these questions may not be the same. They should be though.

I pray that you will trust God and make His Word the standard for your life. Always. Regardless of how hard it gets. Regardless of what might have to change in your life. It’s absolutely worth it! Because when the Bible is your standard, you are on God’s side! “What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31, NKJV)

What’s your standard?