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Recently Peter Brakke was invited to speak at our monthly staff gathering. You may not know the name of this influential leader, but you know his brand – Chick-fil-A. Peter is the owner of the Chick-fil-A restaurant in The District shopping center located in Tustin.
What does a fast food chain owner have to do with our work at Orange County Rescue Mission?
Peter became interested in Orange County Rescue Mission when students came to his restaurant to apply for jobs. He was intrigued by the abilities and professionalism of the applicants coming from a rescue mission program. Over time, Peter’s involvement with us and our work has grown. And it has become clear to me that Peter is a leader. Good leaders in either for-profit or non-profit can learn from each other.
Peter shared that in his restaurant, and throughout the Chick-fil-A corporate culture, servant leadership is not just the new buzz word. It is a value they have held to since the beginnings of the business, and that Peter teaches each employee in his restaurant. He believes that leaders are not just a title or a position, but something that comes from who we are and how we work. The phrase he uses to motivate servant leadership in his employees is to “go the second mile”, meaning, do more than just what is expected to serve customers. And for Chick-fil-A, training employees to be servant leaders is working. They are one of the top rated businesses for customer service, across multiple industries.
Most important to me and Peter is that this kind of servant leadership is biblical. Jesus Christ modeled it in how he interacted with people. And it is the kind of leadership that is needed to continue to change and improve our community. It doesn’t require a certain education or access to resources. It is the kind of leadership that anyone, including a student at Orange County Rescue Mission, can make a difference by choosing to think beyond themselves and contribute to the good of others.