This weekend I watched the movie detailing the beginnings of McDonald’s and the creation of the multi-billion dollar, multi-national company. The movie tells the story of the relationship between two creative brothers who invented the quick system concept for cooking burgers and the Midwestern salesman who expanded the company through franchising and land deals. The tension between growth and quality, between the original vision and market adjustments becomes the battlefield of words, legal actions, feelings, identity, and relationships. The McDonald brothers are purists, wanting to keep the vision exactly as it is in the first location. Mr. Kroc sees potential for growth with some compromises. Which changes are mission-altering and which ones are superfluous to the core concept is the debate that rages throughout the movie. The most gut-wrenching part of the movie is when the brothers are forced to remove their own name from their original restaurant because Kroc has gained legal rights to the name McDonald’s.
You can see the relationship going south when Kroc first affirms that he is, in fact, the founder. Kroc’s claim to that title is a grasp at the right to guide the enterprise as he sees fit, regardless of whom he has to step on in the process. I paid very close attention to this claim. My business card says, “Co-Founder and Executive Director,” For years I have embraced that role. It was scary to see how even the best of concepts can get off track, leaving broken relationships and com- promised integrity in the wake. It raised the question, “Who has the authority, the right, the burden, the privilege of directing the future ministry of Agape Development?”
I am so grateful that Jesus is that authority, not I. It is He who started the movement that Agape is a part of. It is Jesus who knows the best blueprint for our neighborhood. I am at my best when I stay close to Him and follow His lead. Recently, the board, staff, neighbors, and some supporters entered into a month of fasting and prayer about the future of Agape Development. We as believers need each other in order to clearly hear from the Lord. In isolation, we can never be sure we have escaped the blinding, self-deceptive touch of sin. In community, we wrestled in prayer, discussed the future, and sought divine intervention. In the end, Agape felt unified in our new housing initiative. We see God’s provision for extra facility space. We are excited to see our friends and neighbors become homeowners. I’m committed to listening to our neighbors and to Jesus in all of our work. We are excited to see all that our Founder has in store.
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