When we see pictures of Colonel Sanders today, the founder of Kentucky Fried Chicken, it is always him as an old man. Why is that? Simply because Colonel Sanders founded KFC at the age of 65…….. 65!!?? However, there is more to the story than him arbitrarily beginning this franchise. There are also a few important lessons that we can pick up from his late endeavors.
Life Before Chicken
Before becoming the infamous Colonel Sanders of KFC, he had quite an
exchange of careers and failures. In summary, he was a farmhand, a streetcar conductor, a fireman, a lawyer (which ended due to a brawl in the courtroom with his client), an insurance salesman, a ferry boat operator, owned a company manufacturing acetylene lamps (which failed after the introduction of electric lamps), tire salesman (the plant closed), and ran a service station (which closed).
In 1930, at the age of 40, he took over a service station in Corbin, Kentucky and began to serve chicken dishes as well as other meals. In 1939 he acquired a motel in North Carolina with a 140-seat restaurant in it. It was there he developed his “secret recipe” for fried chicken. Unfortunately, due to the effects of World War II his motel closed. Sanders continued to run cafeterias until around 1955 when he began KFC due to the success and demand for his fried chicken.
An Encouraging Example
At the age of 65 most Americans are calling it quits to a life of work and settling into a retired life of seclusion and “me time.” (I’ll let John Piper explain that one to you). However, this was prime time for Sanders. A life filled with business failures evolved into a niche he found in chicken, culminating into a franchise at the age of 65. Several encouraging lessons can be gleaned from his life:
1. A successful business or ministry rarely appears overnight. “The plans of the diligent lead surely to abundance, but everyone who is hasty comes only to poverty.” When Sanders discovered his success in his fried chicken recipe, he diligently worked in cafeterias and promoted that success until the time came for him to reap his efforts worldwide. One should not seek instant success, but a consistent work ethic.
2. Sanders had more jobs than most of us (I do realize it was a different time then) and we complain about our significantly less amount and our discontent in them. The Bible tells us God blesses the work of the diligent. “A slack hand causes poverty, but the hand of the diligent makes rich” (Proverbs 10:4). Be diligent in the job you are in and work hard, God will bless it. In addition, be on guard for advancement and change. Make contacts, meet people. Look for opportunities.
3. The culmination of your diligence may come later in life. Your website may not have many visitors yet, your book may not be selling. Your new business may be struggling and your new school may only have 7 students. He who is faithful in little will also be faithful in much. Keep at it.
The Great Commission is not only for those who go as missionaries. The command is to disciple the nations, which stems from Christ receiving all authority in heaven and on earth, and that includes Christians who demonstrate a Christian work ethic in their business, whether big or small, and advance that business for the kingdom of God. Let Colonel Sanders be an example to all of those not seen, those who are older and think they have nothing left to contribute, and those who have not yet found their “niche.” Be diligent and faithful in your work to prepare to be found faithful in more.