There are things you only learn through association with others. I’ve been blessed to be surrounded by incredible people who are constantly teaching me things I’d never get to experience otherwise. One of these people is David Green, founder and CEO of Hobby Lobby.
My connection with David began in 1997. I was meeting with leaders in the Philippines about the possibility of distributing the Book of Hope in schools. At the end of the meeting, we were miraculously granted permission to give all six million high schoolers in the Philippines a Book of Hope! I eagerly promised that we would deliver, without the slightest idea of where the funds would come from to fulfill such a commitment.
Around that same time, my dad was connecting with an entrepreneur and businessman named David Green. After promising those six million Books of Hope, I discovered that David, unaware of my promise and the accompanying need, had provided a multi-million dollar check for the exact amount needed to minister to the Philippine school children!
The Green family has faithfully continued to support OneHope efforts around the world for more than two decades. Not only am I thankful for the friendship, partnership and extreme commitment to investing in things with eternal value, but I’ve been challenged to view wealth and generosity differently. The entire Green family lives with eternity in mind. Here’s what I’ve learned from David specifically:
God’s economy works
While David clearly possesses the ability to compound profits, he has determined that his best investments aren’t in things or money, but in what will leave a lasting legacy. That’s why he’s chosen to run his businesses according to God’s economy, which defies mathematical reasoning. For David, six is more than seven. He made the hard choice to close his stores on Sunday as a result of concern for the well-being of his employees. God has honored that decision by allowing them to generate more income during the six days/week they are open. This illogical economy works in other areas as well. Concerning prayer, an hour spent with God shows big returns through the rest of the day – 23 is more than 24. David’s father, Walter, taught him that when it comes to tithing, 90 is more than 100, explaining, “Ninety percent with God is more than 100 percent without him.”
God owns the tree
David not only believes that everything belongs to God, but he lives it. He says, “God owns the tree; we just get to work for him and pick some of the fruit.” We have prayed fervently with the Green family during difficult seasons in their business, especially during their 2014 Supreme Court case. To them, Hobby Lobby is a gift that has been entrusted to them not an entity to be put under lock and key. We still have so much to learn from them about letting go of the trivial things of this world and embracing what will last for eternity.
You can’t out give God
“I’ve tried and failed every time!” my friend often quips. I use the Greens as examples of business-minded persons possessing the spiritual gift of giving because they don’t run a typical business model. Their company gives 50 percent of its earnings to different charities. I’ve yet to encounter another business model structured for such radical generosity!
Wealth doesn’t make you generous
I remember a time when a young man asked David at what point in his wealth journey did he start giving big amounts. David replied that if you aren’t giving generously now, you won’t later. His mother, Marie, was always generous, giving sacrificially, and setting an example of intentional stewardship, and so does he. David is building a lasting heritage and passing it on to future generations as he models the strong, God-centered inheritance of tithing and intentional living his parents passed on to him.
Let your giving flow out of your life
The Greens love God’s Word. Their life theme is, “This Book is Alive.” Their giving reflects it. They support ministries that promote the translation, distribution and engagement of the Word. They’ve set a strong example of what it looks like to exemplify who you are and invest in what you believe.
The OneHope and Green family legacies are tightly woven together. Through the years, we have often been reminded that everything is in God’s hands – the past, present and future. I’m so thankful for David Green living a life of radical generosity in our highly consumeristic society. The Kingdom-minded principles I’ve shared are just a few I’ve picked up from his example over the years. You can learn from David’s own hand how to strengthen your eternal investment strategy, in his new book aptly titled, Giving It All Away… And Getting It All Back Again: The Way of Living Generously.
Rob is President of OneHope and Chairman of the board at Oral Roberts University (ORU). His innovative Outcome Based Ministry model and training has helped thousands of global ministries shift their paradigm and begin incorporating best practices that dramatically increase their effectiveness.