Dare to Serve Reflection: How do you think about the people you lead? Last night I enjoyed a dinner conversation with a Popeyes leader who oversees more than a dozen restaurants. In our chat, we were reflecting on how grateful we both were for the momentum in our business – and how blessed we felt to be a part of this company. I was so impressed with this person’s genuine love of the restaurant business. It led me to ask him to share a bit about his family history.

He told me about his grandparents. He had spent summers with them – working the land. Learning what hard work looks like. Learning what it means to serve others – the workers on the farm. Learning how to prepare food from the barn and the garden. A hard life in many ways, but a place to learn how to love others, do productive work, and treasure the simple things. He then said – “I think this is where I learned my love for the restaurant business.”

And then I understood so much about the man – his values, his perspective, and his attitude. His mindset was – “I can find joy in serving others, in working hard, and in treasuring life shared with the people in our restaurants.” Wow. I want to work for him. Wouldn’t you?

When I joined Popeyes in 2007, we were suffering from a lot of things. Discouragement, disappointment, skepticism, frustration, and more. Our employees had watched multiple leaders come and go without a turnaround of the business. Our franchise owners were exasperated at the poor performance. Our board wanted to know what was wrong. Our shareholders wanted their investment to provide a return.

We needed new results to be sure. But to get there, we also needed a new attitude. We needed to think freshly about our work. Why it is valuable? Why do we want to work hard to solve the problems? Why we want to serve the Popeyes family well? Without a fresh mindset about the work, we would have been doomed to repeating history.

Is your attitude determining your altitude?

What emotions do you have about your workplace today? How will your mindset affect your work today? What could you do to approach the work freshly and positively?

Serving Performs.

Redefining Failure

I am leveraging Rick Warren’s Daily Hope blog for this beautiful perspective on redefining failure. It inspired me.

“Fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the LORD is kept safe.” Proverbs 29:25 (NIV)

Satan’s favorite tool to diminish your faith is the fear of failure. But you cannot serve God and be constantly worried about what other people think. You have to move forward. Proverbs 29:25 says, “Fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the LORD is kept safe.” (NIV)

So how do you get rid of the fear of failure?

One way is to redefine failure. What is failure? Failure is not failing to reach your goal. Failure is not having a goal. Failure is not failing to hit your target. Failure is not having a target. Failure is not falling down. Failure is refusing to get back up. You’re never a failure until you quit. So if you’re attempting something for the glory of God, that’s a good thing. Failure is not trying and not accomplishing anything. Failure is failing to try.

Another way to get rid of the fear of failure is to never compare yourself to anybody else. You’re always going to find somebody who’s doing a better job, and you get discouraged. And, you’re always going to find somebody who’s not doing as good a job as you are, and you become full of pride. Both of them will mess up your life. Discouragement and pride will keep you from serving God’s purpose for your life.

The Bible says in Galatians 6:4, “Each of you must examine your own actions. Then you can be proud of your own accomplishments without comparing yourself to others.” (GW)

Did you notice that the Bible says there is a legitimate pride? There’s a good kind of pride and there’s a bad kind of pride. The bad kind of pride is comparing: “I’m better than so and so!” The good kind of pride is, “God, I’m proud of what you’re doing in my family, my business, my life, my walk of faith.” That’s the good kind of pride.

God hasn’t called me to be the best business owner / coach / trainer / facilitator / leader in the world. God has called me to be the best business owner / coach / trainer / facilitator / leader I can possibly be given the gifts, talents, and experiences he gave me. When you get to Heaven, God isn’t going to say, “Why weren’t you more like so and so?” He’s going to say, “Why weren’t you who I made you to be?”

Let go of your fear of failure, because anything you’re attempting for God in faith is a good thing, regardless of the results.

A Wheelchair Container

I have been a champion of  Free Wheelchair Mission since 2008 when I saw the video at a Barnabas Group meeting. I showed that video to my Convene members back then. Things were very tight in the economy, and I had lost a fair share of members. One of our members was very moved and decided if he ever had a chance again, he would make a donation, but as it was, he couldn’t even stay in the group. Fast-forward four years…we have been in touch, and my wife and I were even invited to his son’s wedding (his son has been employed at the company of one of my members for a couple of years). The member who had left the group has had his best year in company history, and while on a Christmas ski vacation, he felt moved by the Lord to make a contribution. Finally the timing was right. Driving home, he and his wife decided what to do.

“Hello, Jeff, Happy New Year!” He shouted into his cell phone with his wife listening. “How are you doing? Have you been on another trip yet to South America? Did you take a container of wheelchairs? How does that work? How many do you take? How many are in one container? How much does a container cost? OK! I’m gonna buy one of those! Come down to my office and we’ll work out the details!” Of course I was blown away and told him how grateful I was that he would think of such a thing to do.

“You know, it really blesses me to see you taking teams down to Ecuador and doing this for the people, and I can’t think of a better person to give the check. When you showed us the video way back then, I saw a man walking on his elbows. This should never be. That image was burned into my mind, and all this time I have never been able to escape it. I told the Lord I want to give Jeff some money for his work way back then but I couldn’t. Now it’s different. We’ve had our best year ever.”

I thanked him and went down to receive the check…$40,000. “Just rounded it up to 40,” he said. I delivered it to FWM a couple weeks ago, and of course they were thrilled.

Sometimes the benefits of being a Convene Chair are direct…you can see them. Other times, the Chair battles through disappointment and discouragement over a member leaving his group and so on. It is meaningful to me that the Lord would encourage me through this, not that I got some money in my account (though that is a great encouragement), but that a member learned to be generous and faithful, and associated his giving with a lesson that I had taught him years ago. It is my prayer that all of my Convene members would be touched in some way where they decide to take significant steps of faith and stewardship, not just with their money, but with their lives. Delayed gratification…the life of the Convene Chair.