I Am Third

I Am Third

In the fall of 1985, as a sophomore at Berry College, I had the privilege of meeting Truett Cathy, the founder and (at the time) President of Chick-fil-A. As part of the WinShape Scholarship Program at Berry, I had several opportunities to see Mr. Cathy, even spending a weekend in his home one time.

Mr. Cathy was a shrewd businessman, a hard worker, a great role model, and a man who was much in demand as a public speaker because of his success. I had many opportunities to hear him speak. He had a few “stand-by” themes or ideas that he would often use. One of the ones that impacted me the most – and one that he came back to time and time again – was his message, “I am third.”

The basic idea of Mr. Cathy’s “I am third” talk was this – our priorities in this life should be God first, others second, and myself third. So…”I am third.” A simple enough concept.

It was one that I saw Mr. Cathy live out before others, both in his personal life and in the culture that he infused into Chick-fil-A. This blog is not intended as a commercial for Chick-fil-A, but I spent close to 8 years of my life working at various Chick-fil-A-s – some as a part-time employee, and some as a full-time manager. One of the messages that was consistent no matter who my boss was or which store I worked in – God needed to be first in my life, the customers and their needs, then others around me second, and then – I was third.

The point of living life with the rule “I am third” is NOT that I am unimportant. Quite the opposite, in fact. The truth is that the only way to consistently live out of an “I am third” mindset is to be secure in who you are and in Whose you are. When you know how much God loves you, it becomes an act of gratitude to put Him first. And when you realize how much He loves others, and how Jesus Himself didn’t come to be served but to serve others, well, then putting others second and yourself third is just the right choice.

There are times I forget this simple little message. There are times I am selfish, times I want what I want, times I put my “needs” ahead of the needs of others. In those times, I am thankful for God’s grace and for the gentle reminders He sends my way. Life isn’t always simple when you choose “I am third” but it IS joyful and fulfilling. And it is honoring of Jesus.

I am third.

How about you?