Have you had your 2016 Cadbury egg(s)?
John Cadbury established the largest chocolate factory in the world. He came from a family of Quakers and that faith shaped the moral and social values of his company. Before there was a Cadbury chocolate, John Cadbury considered being a lawyer and physician, but he was a Quaker and the prejudice of the day kept him out of school. Quakers were/are pacifists, so the military was not an option. He turned to business.
Cadbury’s story in England mirrors Arthur Guinness’ Ireland story. It feels odd or providential that I’ve discovered the Ireland story as we approach St Patrick’s Day and Cadbury’s story during the short season when the Cadbury egg is available. I feel obligated to have another one.
Heartbroken by the poverty in his English city, Cadbury established a grocery store in the inner city and concluded that alcohol kept his customers in poverty. By 1831 he determined to begin manufacturing chocolate and cocoa. He convinced himself that drinking chocolate and cocoa would offer an alternative to the gin and whiskey that was destroying England. The biographer says, “Merging his business skills with his Quaker sense of social duty, Cadbury bought an old malt house on Crooked Lane and began making chocolate. His business thrived.”
Cadbury in England and Guinness in Ireland. Their stories of faith, business acumen and faith-driven social concern are much the same. And they were connected by one of the Guinness employees—Dr. John Lumsden– a full time company physician. His vigor and vision thrust the company’s generosity and dedication to caring for employees and families into warp speed during the horrors of the Industrial Revolution.
Lumsden visited the homes of the 3000 employees and hundreds of homes surrounding the brewery. He took extensive notes describing living conditions, health, education and evident results. He reported to the company board and submitted a list of nine reforms that were to be undertaken immediately. That included building new housing and destroying buildings unfit for habitation. I don’t know what you think when seeing the word squalor, but the word only begins to describe living conditions. The board of directors voted to fund the projects and to provide ways to improve their worker’s lives using Lumsden’s list:
- Technical education for the younger generation.
- Popular lectures of educational value.
- Program of athletics and exercise.
- Literature encouraging hygiene and prevention of disease.
- Courses in cooking
- Education regarding the feeding of infants
- Recreational opportunities: Concerts and socials.
- Opportunities for management and laborers to meet and socialize
Cadbury found the same conditions in his English city. His business increased so that he had to find another building and expanded land. He went outside the city and built villages. He solved the housing problem by building homes for his 2700 workers. Cadbury built new communities. Lumsden visited the Cadbury villages and suggested Guinness move to the suburbs. The board chose to rebuild the city of Dublin.
These men responded to what they heard as the call of God. They, the individuals and the company directors, sought God for strategies. An old question has taken on a laser-focus and an urgent desire to seek God—Where do I fit in solving the pressing issues of my generation? How do I find God’s will and plan? An acquaintance who works with CRU—Crusade for Christ—told us about a conversation she had with a Muslim about injustice. Two world views. One has God standing on the sidelines and in the other He is the prime doer. I hear God responding to the prayer of Arthur Guinness—“God do something,” with, “Let’s do something, and this is what you can do. Start here:”
After months of thinking, studying and some anguished praying, I adapted a seeking process developed by Dr. Mark Virkler:
Quiet the voices in your head. Quiet your body—sit in a comfortable chair with both feet on the floor and your spine straight. Invite Jesus to join you. Turn off all the noise makers. Where is that place? At your kitchen table? On a lake shore? If you can’t physically go to those relaxing places, imagine yourself there. A mountain cabin? I am comfortable in a quiet back booth of a café or coffee shop.
This works in several prayer settings. I put my family, ministry-life tribe and intercession lists in front of me. I ask at each name, “What should I know about this person’s life today? Jesus, how are you praying for them today? Is there something specific I should pray about?
Speaking of the Cadbury Bunny—which are Flemish Giants in the advertising—we have had a couple of flop-eared rabbits and a Persian bunny. We have had guard bunnies. Our family has had the experience of the bunny standing in front of us and thumping on the floor to warn us of danger. I’m not making this up. In asking about friends and family, it is not uncommon for the Holy Spirit to alert me. I don’t always know specifics, but I know the alert is real. I frequently hear from people who tell me of a need and I can honestly tell them that I have already prayed. The Holy Thumper was at work.
As I consider the needs in the news or needs in my friends’ lives, I ask, “Where do you want me to fit into this? What strategy is wise for me to pursue in these situations?” How am I to build my platform to expand my business to the ones who will benefit most?
I pray most for knowledge of God’s point of view and strategies, solutions and next steps. Something like, “What is your alternative view of the future that you want me to fit into?” or “What do you want me to do about…?” “How am I to pray miraculous healing for…?” “Where do I invest my energy and time to sow so that I may reap this benefit?”
Virkler says to ask and then listen for the first words that come to mind. He teaches that God speaks to us through spontaneous thoughts. You ask and God answers—what an idea! Using Paul’s words to the Ephesians in Ephesians one, “Open the eyes of my heart.” Listen not only to the words, but listen to the visions or images. What does God show you? The road to sober has visions of people and habits and probably places.
In this listening mode, think of the person or the niche of customers you are asking God how to serve. Listen to their hearts—empathy—what do they need to make their lives better? This is what Dr. Lumsden did in Dublin—he listened to what would make their lives work or live-able. It is said of Steve Jobs that “…he had the ability to stand in a potential user’s shoes and understand the impact that an innovation and its design might have on that person’s life.”
Using the instructions in Habakkuk, write what you hear. Virkler calls this two-way journaling. You write what you say to God and then what you think you hear from Him. There is an official term for this taught in writer’s seminars: shitty first draft. No kidding. Get it on paper. Don’t worry about spelling or correctness. Get it into your journal. Some use their word processor. Whatever works for you. Go back the next day or when you pray next and read what you heard. Correct and tidy up if you must. Ask, does it hold up? You will benefit having a spiritual director or close friends who can guide you in interpreting what you have “heard.” The more drastic the instruction, the more needful the counsel.
“…and you shall find me when you seek me with your whole heart” (Jeremiah 29:13).
©2016 D. Dean Benton—writer & wonderer