Truett Cathy, founder of Chick-fil-A, was recently honored at an event celebrating his 90th birthday. Mr. Cathy's son Dan shared stories about his dad and how he was a great father, friend and mentor to many.
There wasn't a dry eye in the place when Dan thanked his father for being honorable and a great role model to his children, teaching them the importance of living life based on biblical principles, keeping family a priority, having a strong work ethic, serving others and what it means to be a man of integrity.
In addition to being the father of Dan, Don (Bubba) and Trudy, grandfather to 12 grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren, Mr. Cathy claims 150 foster grandchildren who have grown up in the eight foster homes operated through his WinShape Foundation.
Knowing how tumultuous the teens years can be, Mr. Cathy spent 50 years teaching Sunday school to 13-year-old boys. Because so many children are growing up without parents who are actively involved in their life, Mr. Cathy saw this as a way to speak into the lives of young people, encouraging them, teaching them and giving them hope for their future.
Additionally, Mr. Cathy has given more than 25 million in scholarships for Chick-fil-A employees to further their educations.
"Nearly every moment of every day we have the opportunity to give something to someone else: our time, our love, our resources. I have always found more joy in giving when I did not expect anything in return," said Mr. Cathy in his book, "Eat Mor Chikin: Inspire More People."
When it comes to giving, Mr. Cathy understands that children crave time and attention from their parents. In his book, "It's Better To Build Boys Than Mend Men," he shares this wisdom when it comes to raising children:
"Every child I know who overcame long odds and grew into a responsible adult can point to an adult who stepped into his or her life as a friend, mentor and guide."
"Don't be too concerned that your children don't listen to you. But be very concerned that they see everything you do."
"Be so consistent in your discipline that you're boring."
"Stop arguing in front of your children."
"You may think children have outgrown the desire to be rocked to sleep at night. They haven't."
"Children will never believe in the covenant of marriage unless they see you living it with their own eyes."
"How do you know if a child needs encouragement? If he or she is breathing."
Clearly, Mr. Cathy has been very intentional about the legacy he wants to leave for his family. This didn't happen by chance. It took time, forethought, a concerted effort and making the decision to do the right thing no matter the cost. It isn't about being a perfect father but being the best father he could be to his children and the children who crossed his path.
Most parents want to leave the kind of legacy Mr. Cathy has built. If you asked your children what kind of legacy you are building for them, what would they say?
Email Julie Baumgardner at firstname.lastname@example.org.