A six-month-old in tow, two heavy bags draped across the shoulder, and one overwhelmed nanny. It was my first venture out of the house with Lucy. Who knew a baby required so many things for lunch at Chick-fil-A?
When I walked in the door, an employee greeted me and walked me to a table. To save me the hassle of maneuvering the line with a small child, he took my order as I sat down. With the smell of fried chicken filling the air and children running from the playground to their seat to grab a bite of a nugget, I sat dumbfounded and grateful at this level of service. The feelings of stress resided, and I focused on enjoying time out with Lucy.
As I sat at the table waiting for my number one with a sweet tea and Chick-fil-A sauce, I thought about the excellent service the restaurant employees provide. The young man who greeted me may have brought a sandwich and a smile, but the extra mile measures he took to make my life momentarily easier meant a great deal more. It reminded me of the description of servanthood found in Scripture. Paul calls himself nothing more than a servant and a steward of the Gospel. He writes in his first letter to the Corinthians that “This, then, is how you ought to regard us: as servants of Christ and as those entrusted with the mysteries God has revealed. Now it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful” (1 Cor. 4:1–2). The apostle calls Christians to live in the same way. Through the passage, we see that servants serve with a single purpose, steward with diligence, and develop a faithful track record. Do I exhibit the same lifestyle of Paul and the employees in front of me?
Paul asks for the people to regard him “as [a] servant of Christ” (1 Cor. 4:1). After his radical conversion (Acts 9), Paul realigned his life to the character and teaching of Jesus. More than this, we see Paul set aside his authority to follow Christ. Paul chose to serve the people rather than use his leadership position in the church for selfish gain. The mission with which Jesus entrusted him stood far above the earthly status and praise of the world.
Likewise, believers should also serve Christ alone. Jesus calls all believers to a life of single-minded servanthood. We can agree that we rarely, if at all, jump to serving others first. We want others to serve us not the other way around. When we give our lives to Jesus, he gives us a new identity and purpose. We love and serve those around us because Jesus did the same.
Chick-fil-A employees serve with a single purpose: “To glorify God by being a faithful steward of all that is entrusted to us and to have a positive influence on all who come into contact with Chick-fil-A.” Service stands at the heart of Chick-fil-A’s business model. Without it, the chain would function like any other restaurant.
Believers, in the same way, seek to align themselves with the teaching and character of Christ. He embodied true servanthood no matter the situation or person. Maybe you live with an aging parent or sick relative. Maybe you manage a household of chaos or work with difficult people. These situations make serving others hard. Jesus and Paul understood. They dealt with hostile people all the time. But, they both knew the gravity of their mission. They looked past the outward appearances and saw the person’s spiritual need instead of their actions and attitudes. They saw their need for Jesus. Sometimes Chick-fil-A employees do not want to show kindness to a rude customer or serve after a long lunch rush. They know, though, that the experience of the customer far outweighs their current feelings. Placing aside personal wants and preferences for the other person outlines the life of a servant. Without a single focus, we easily lose sight or give up on serving others.
Steward with Diligence
Paul continues that he serves “as those entrusted with the mysteries [of] God” (4:2). A steward protects or manages their master’s property. Christ changed Paul to steward the Good News of Jesus, proclaiming it to the Gentiles living outside of Jerusalem. He understood his responsibility and gave up his entire life for the Gospel.
Most people serve if it’s convenient, secretly hoping for reciprocation. The call of Christ-followers, though, requires giving up our time to steward the Gospel of Christ. Some may think, “That sounds great, but I spend my day doing mundane or seemingly small things,” or “God did not grant me the gift of evangelism.” You play a vital part of God’s mission here on earth. You possess skills and talents to contribute because God gifted you. Whatever life may look like in this season, your gifts matter if you use them with intentionality.
Stewarding the Gospel means walking with a posture of expectation. You stand ready to see people and love them. We proclaim eternal life found in Christ and then love the people around us as Christ would. One summer, I lived in Vancouver, Canada. On the subway, I shared the Gospel with the person next to me. Though our talk ended without a proclamation of faith, I utilized the time on my commute to hear another person’s story and to share mine. When we serve with a single purpose and steward our time and lives with diligence, we see God at work in those around us.
Chick-fil-A employees exemplify this concept. They steward their position to serve every customer through the biblical principle of second-mile service (Matt. 5:41). They strive to do more than expected to provide the best experience possible.
A Faithful Track Record
Paul declares that “those who have been given a trust must prove faithful” (1 Cor. 4:2). The apostle worked to develop relationships with the people in Corinth. He remained faithful and served the people with the love of Christ for a year and a half, earning the right to speak into their lives.
Faithfulness should, likewise, mark the life of the Christian. If the level of service differed each time I went to Chick-fil-A, my loyalty would wane, but the restaurant’s proven track record of second-mile service keeps me coming back for more. When we create a faithful track record, we win others’ trust. Whether at home, work, church, or around town, seek to serve others. God has you where you are at this exact time for a reason. Steward your circle of influence well. By loving those around you and intentionally developing relationships, our lives make a greater impact on the world around us.
Most CEOs lead their employees from behind a desk. Whether serving in the drive-thru at one of the Atlanta restaurants or spending time getting to know the newest hire, Chick-fil-A’s CEO, Dan Cathy strives for Christlikeness, serving all of his employees with care and intentionality. His goal is to make Chick-fil-A a great environment because he loves his employees at every level. Jesus authored the concept of servant leadership, leading the disciples and the people by interacting with them face-to-face. He could have come to the earth and asserted his position as Messiah, yet Jesus’s genuine love for His creation fueled His mission. Believers can also authentically love others through their relationship with Christ. As we walk with Jesus, the Holy Spirit works in our hearts, and we begin to love out of delight rather than duty.
As I carried Lucy back to the car, I left with more than a full stomach. I felt seen, loved, and grateful. True servanthood leaves a lasting impression. It may take more time and effort. It may stand counter to your natural tendencies. If we see ourselves as servants and stewards first instead of moms, employees, wives, daughters or friends, we will live as Jesus commanded. Service becomes a pleasure rather than a burden. Next time you step into Chick-fil-A, take notes. Watch how the employees work. You can do the same through the simple reminder of a sandwich and a smile.
About The Author
Emily Bradberry is a graduate of Dallas Theological Seminary. Her passion is to teach women the Word of God and to see the life change that comes through knowing Christ. Emily is originally from Atlanta, Georgia. She is a proud fan of all Atlanta sports teams and her alma mater The University of Georgia. She now calls Dallas her home and enjoys exploring all that the city has to offer.