What the Chick-fil-A Owners Can Teach Us About Conviction

This week Chick-fil-A founder, S. Truett Cathy, passed away. For me Chick-fil-A represents a welcomed option to take my almost four-year-old son for a more than decent meal that both he and I will enjoy. And in most of their restaurants, he can expend some of his unlimited energy in their playground. For this I am also grateful.

But for many others, Chick-fil-A represents hatred and intolerance. You will remember the national coverage that Chick-fil-A received a couple of years ago after some comments CEO Dan Cathy made about their stance on marriage. The Cathy family hold deeply to the conviction that the biblical intent for marriage is the union of one man and one woman.

This view of marriage along with reported organizations supported by the Cathy foundation, WinShape, revealing seemed to, and continues to, fuel a hot social debate.

You don’t have to look far to find articles written espousing one view or another followed by pages of vitriolic comments hurled at other readers who simply hold to different beliefs and convictions.

In the midst of the social outcry a couple of years ago, this article, Dan and Me: My Coming Out as a Friend of Dan Cathy and Chick-fil-A, written by Shana L. Windmeyer, executive director of Campus Pride caught my attention.

What caught my attention is how Mr. Windmeyer portrayed Mr. Cathy’s deep unwavering convictions. Over and over, My Windmeyer reassures his readers that his just as deeply held convictions were not changing. But, he learned to respect someone whose views were diametrically opposed to his own.

In reading this article, I learned a few things from Mr. Cathy about deeply held convictions.

What can Dan Cathy teach us about conviction?

Don’t back away from your convictions especially when facing opposition.

Obviously the Cathy family and Chick-fil-A still to this day face criticism for the strong stance they hold on traditional, “biblical” marriage. Yet, they don’t apologize or change their stance to increase sales or avoid conflict.

All people deserve to be treated with respect regardless of their beliefs or lifestyle.

Mr. Cathy called Mr. Windmeyer in 2012, not to rip him to shreds for the campaign against Chick-fil-A. Instead Mr. Cathy treated Mr. Windmeyer with “kindness and openness”.

In 2013, Chick-fil-A released a statement that included this comment— “Our intent is to not support political or social agendas. This has been the case for more than 60 years. The Chick-fil-A culture and service tradition in our restaurants is to treat every person with honor, dignity and respect and to serve great food with genuine hospitality.”

Our convictions don’t need to prevent us from knowing people with opposing views.

The hate speech usually flows from mouths who don’t take the time to get to know other people with opposing views. Instead they become adversaries or opposing people. 

When the faceless adversary becomes someone who has a name, loved ones, fears and ambitions, the hatred or fear begins to fall away.

 Welcome a person with an opposing view or conviction into your own convictions.

Learn to overcome fear and awkwardness by participating in mutual dialogue and finding a way to respect each other.

This doesn’t mean that I have to be best buddies or by any means forfeit or soften my own convictions. It just means I can allow someone with a different mindset or worldview into my world.

Allow God to be the judge.

I glean this indirectly by how Dan Cathy handles the relations with Mr Windmeyer. I can hold onto my convictions and allow another to hold onto theirs no matter how different. And let God be the judge of us both.

What about you? Tell me of a time you sat down with someone who had different convictions with you? 

 

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Kennethcamp3d

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I am a longtime Austinite. Married my beautiful wife over 25 years ago. Adopted our son September 2012. Currently a writer and loving it. Previous jobs and careers include project management, missionary, and pastor. I enjoy sports (both watching and playing), traveling, reading, digging in dirt and hanging with my friends and family.

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6 thoughts on “What the Chick-fil-A Owners Can Teach Us About Conviction

  1. Webster’s defines the type of conviction you are speaking of as follows: “No clever argument, no persuasive fact or theory could make a dent in his conviction in the rightness of his position.”

    I’m glad you included the link to the article by Mr. Windemeyer. I had read it shortly after it was written, but reviewing it again was good, and I hope that all of your readers will review it as well. The point of your article is pretty well captured by the following extract:

    “Now it is all about the future, one defined, let’s hope, by continued mutual respect. I will not change my views, and Dan will likely not change his, but we can continue to listen, learn and appreciate “the blessing of growth” that happens when we know each other better. I hope that our nation’s political leaders and campus leaders might do the same.”

    It’s also worth pointing out that Chic-fil-A stopped support for a number of anti-LGBT organizations, and we can assume that is as a direct result of civil dialogue between Mr. Windmeyer and Mr. Cathy. It’s a great example of standing by one’s convictions, but changing one’s behaviour as the result of listening to one who’s convictions may not be in alignment with our own.

    Now, with reference to your question: “When was the last time I sat down with someone with different convictions than myself?” Of course, it depends on your definition of “sit down with”. If by that you mean eyeball to eyeball, so to speak, my recollection is that it was with my elder brother during his cancer treatments a little over two years ago. I had the honor of spending a lot of time with him during his long hospital stay, and though we never came to a theological agreement, our discussions led to some apparent lingering resentment he had from some old childhood wounds. Though I was surprised by this revelation, but we nonetheless were able to resolve those through tears and laughter and as a result become even closer to one another. He ultimately lost the battle with cancer, though I prefer to believe he truly won the war, as death was healing for him.

    Thanks for the thought-provoking article, Kenneth.

  2. You know, holding on to our convictions in the face of opposition, is harder than we think. I always appreciate those who set the good example.
    I also like what the other commentator said here, “cause I am one”, being a sinner. That humbleness to know that we are as lost without Jesus, that we are as much dust as the next guy is, that helps keep our hearts in the right place before we stand to speak.

  3. Great article, Kenny, and a true example of what it means to love the sinner (’cause I am one) yet hate the sin. Mr. Cathy kept his faith and principles, yet did not attempt to engage in public battles or debates.