David Green is the founder and CEO of the country’s largest chain of arts and crafts stores, Hobby Lobby. David’s philosophy in life revolves around his faith and his family. His view of “wealth,” is not tied to how much money a person makes, but their relationship with the Lord, their relationship with others, and teaching others about God. His son Steve, who is the president of Hobby Lobby and Steve’s wife, Jackie, share these godly principles. They all discuss why it’s important to them that others know about the Bible and how to live generously.
Narrator: Welcome to the Jesus Calling Podcast. Today, we speak with David Green, the founder and CEO of the country’s largest chain of arts and crafts stores, Hobby Lobby. David has always approached his business with godly principles and believes that he should share the gifts that God has given him by giving back to others in return. He’s written a book about his life, his business, and his philosophy of giving called Giving It All Away…And Getting It All Back Again: The Way Of Living Generously.
The Green Family: Living and Giving Generously – Jesus Calling Podcast Episode 74
David Green: I’m David Green, and I’m the CEO and founder of Hobby Lobby Stores.
I grew up in a pastor’s home. My mother and dad pastored churches. By the way, I don’t think they ever pastored a church over 100. I had five brothers and sisters, so we grew up in a pastor’s home. We grew up in a home where you had a mother and father that really lived out their faith, and that was so exciting for us kids to see someone that not only taught it, but also lived a life of faith.
The faith that I got by watching my mother and dad tithe and give was the faith that really brought me into where I knew God would bless me in my tithing and in my giving. So, that was so important to me and my brothers and sisters. We learned from that. We’re all tithe payers. We’re all serving the Lord because we saw two people that played that out. I just think it really gives us faith in God when we actually see it being done and watch God bless us.
When I was a junior, that’s when I went to work for a five-and-dime store, and that was when–with no question–I knew that I wanted to be in retail, and that I loved retail.
I started out in Altus, Oklahoma in a five-and-dime that was called McClellan’s. By the way, that’s where I met my wife Barbara. We met there at that five-and-dime store, and I tell people I met my “Million Dollar Baby” in a five-and-ten cent store. I really did.
We moved from McClellan’s to TG&Y because, at the time in the 60’s, they were adding a lot of stores, and it was my dream to become a store manager. That’s why we left McClellan’s and went to TG&Y, and worked for them for about 13 years.
Growing With God: The Start Of Hobby Lobby
We started our business in 1970 actually, making these little small frames in our garage. Then in 1972–two years later–we thought we had enough money to open our first store, and it was only about 300 square feet. So we bought a little bit of crafts, and we put in this real small store in 1972, and that was our first Hobby Lobby store.
Today we have over 800 stores, and we thank God for His blessing our company. I thank God for my upbringing and my heritage because I knew money was not wealth. I never thought that, and I never sought to be wealthy so much as just to work for myself and be successful at retail. Because of my upbringing, I knew wealth had to do with our relationship with the Lord, having a great marriage, having a family that served God. So to me, wealth was just having a great legacy and not so much that we create a great value in our family of dollars and cents.
When we first started in business, we started very early paying tithes, as Barbara and I did when we first got married of income. So then we would pay tithes of the profits of our company, and as God would bless the tithe, then we would give more than tithe.
As we’ve grown and been profitable, we have reached the point that in the last several years, we’ve been able to give 50 percent of our profits for various ministries.
How God Opens Up Doors
There’s only two things in this world that are for eternity: God’s Word and man’s soul. We want everything we do to really tie into those things, and God has allowed us to do a lot of things in ministry. Of course, we’re opening up a museum in Washington D.C. as one of the projects that we’re a part of.
God has blessed us, and He’s blessed us with great people to make this happen–a great organization and a great company. So we thank Him, and this really excites us to be able to do things in ministry; to see people come to know Christ.
There’s only two things in this world that are for eternity: God’s Word and man’s soul.
It’s been really exciting to see how God just opens up doors, and solves problems, as I lean on Him for help every day. I think it is so important for us to stay in God’s Word as well as our prayer life.
We really felt it was real important for Hobby Lobby to start picking up Bibles and bestselling books because of so many stories. We just think that these books and bestsellers such as Jesus Calling–one of our very very best sellers–needed to be in Hobby Lobby. So this last year we started carrying a lot of books, and we’re really excited.
We know we’re making a difference in people’s lives by being able to sell Jesus Calling and other books.
Giving It All Away, And Getting It All Back Again
Narrator: David has gone on to write his own book about his life, his business and his philosophy of giving called “Giving It All Away, And Getting It All Back Again: The Way of Living Generously.”
David: I think the book came to be because we wanted to inspire people in their generosity because we know God rewards that. We think God rewards it when He says to, “pay your tithe and the windows of heaven will open up.” For me, the greatest things that God does for me in my generosity is not give us more money. He may do that. He may give, that may be what those windows of heaven mean, but it also means so many other things that are more important to us. You know, maybe our relationship with our children or our relationship with our wife. Maybe by giving our children great spouses. So God’s blessing is there for us as we give, and we wanted that book to say that, but we also wanted to say things other than generosity and that is about legacy. What are we doing about our legacy?
I don’t think we have the ability to measure what is big and what is small. I think what God wants us to do is; He want us to follow after Him, and Love Him, and be obedient, and find what He would have for our careers and our life.
It’s very important for us to know God is there by our side all the time. If we really, really get to thinking that and knowing that, then I think it encourages us to pray because we know that He’s right there. That encourages us to pray without ceasing because He’s by our side. He doesn’t leave us or forsake us. It’s exciting to know God is there and on your side every day.
Narrator: To find out more about David Green’s book, Giving It All Away, please visit HobbyLobby.com
We’ll be back with another interview from the Green family – David Green’s son Steve and his wife, Jackie, after this brief message from Audible.
As a special offering to you, the listeners of the Jesus Calling Podcast, Audible is offering a free audiobook download with a free 30-day trial to give you the opportunity to check out their service. Find your favorite Sarah Young titles, including Jesus Calling and Jesus Always in an audiobook version, and get it for free by trying Audible.com. Check out a small sample of the Jesus Calling audiobook featured at the end of this podcast. To download an entire free audiobook today, go to audibletrial.com/jesuscalling. Again, that’s audibiletrial.com/jesuscalling for your full, free audiobook. Now, on to the second half of our show.
Jackie And Steve Green On The Legacy Of Hobby Lobby
Narrator: Next up on the podcast, we talk to Steve and Jackie Green. Steve is the son of Hobby Lobby founder David Green and the president of Hobby Lobby Stores, Incorporated. Steve and his wife Jackie share a little bit about their background and the desire they have to share the truth of Scripture with as many people as possible through a majestic and educational presentation of Bible history. This idea culminated in the creation of The Museum of the Bible, which opened in the fall of 2017 in Washington, DC.
Jackie Green: I’m Jackie Green, I’m the wife of Steve Green, president of Hobby Lobby Stores, Incorporated. I’m a mother to six children ranging from 11 to 31 years old with two sons-in-law and one daughter-in-law and four grandkids.
Steve Green: And I’m Steve Green, husband of Jackie Green. Currently I’m the president of Hobby Lobby Stores.
My father is still CEO and involved in the business, but more recently–in the last seven, eight years–I have been involved in the Museum of the Bible, getting it started and launched and sharing our story around the country. I have been involved in the business for many years and love our business and work. As Jackie mentioned, we have six kids, four grandkids, and I love spending time with our family as well.
I was born here in Oklahoma City, and I’ve lived here all my life. My father traveled around as he was growing up. He went to high school in Altus, Oklahoma where he met my mom and took a job in a retail store in Oklahoma City, and that’s how we got here. I’ve lived here all my life.
We had great parents, were loved and cared for. We would regularly go to church and grew up in a Christian home and accepted Christ at an early age–just a great upbringing. Went to school like any other kid would.
I have fond memories of our home life with great parents.
Being A Part Of The Business
Jackie: I look back and I realize I grew up in sort of a “Leave It to Beaver” world. I grew up in a small community with a wonderful church where many of the church were family members, or I knew them from our community. It was a great way to grow up. I sang in church choir with my family and enjoyed all different ways of volunteering in the church with children’s ministry, church camp, Bible school, church nursery, etc. I just am so blessed to be a fourth-generation follower of Christ. Now I get to raise the fifth generation. I’m thankful to say all six of our children have decided to be a Christian.
Steve: My father was a retail store manager that did well, but when he started the business when I was nine years old, he took a cut in pay. So it was challenging, and even after I graduated from high school, there was a time when my father didn’t know that our business would make it or not because of the oil boom that had busted in the mid-80’s. It was a challenge for the business, but we did well.
Jackie: Steve and I met at church camp when I was about 13 and he was 15 years old, and we started dating my senior year of high school.
Steve: Yeah, I remember when I was a senior in high school, sitting in the auditorium of the high school that I graduated from, and I was just thinking about my plans and thinking about going to college and wondering: “Would I be further ahead if I were to just go into the business and work for the four years, or if I would go to college and then go into the business?” And I remember thinking and making the decision there–I don’t think I’m going to go to college.
I know what I want to do, and I want to go ahead and go work in the business.
Now, when I graduated, I think we had eight stores at the time and there was a lot of opportunities to grow the business. So it was it was in high school when I made that decision to go work in the business, and I’m excited that I was able to have that opportunity there for me, which not everybody has. It was just a great opportunity, and I was just excited at the time and continue to be about being a part of this business.
Jackie: We got married three months after I graduated, and we were the ripe old ages of 18 and 20. We knew each other going to church camps, and I worked at the Hobby Lobby store in Muskogee, Oklahoma.
Bringing Jesus Calling To Hobby Lobby
Steve: I had worked at the stores during the summer and even on weekends, so it was it was not anything new to me. I knew that’s kind of what I wanted to do. I knew that dad had in mind growing the business.
Jackie: There were eight Hobby Lobby stores when we married, and now there are over 800. So the business has grown. Our family has grown. Things were very different than when we started, but we’ve been married 33 years now.
Steve: To have a privately held company of this size that is still operated by the family is uniqueness. We’ve never perfectly ran our business according to Biblical principles, but that’s what we strive to do. We make mistakes daily, but that is what we want to do, which means that we are serving our customers as best we can. Working hard, being fair, paying our bills on time–all those kinds of things that are what we are instructed to do in God’s Word.
…so to have the Jesus Calling book there is exciting…to be able to have the opportunity to share that book with our customers and hopefully see that it has a positive impact on their life as well.
Jackie: I think the fact that we both embrace our faith in God wholeheartedly helps keeps Steve and I individually grounded, and then it helps our marriage. It helps us to be much better as a husband, a wife, or a parent. It helps us be a better employer, a better business owner. Everything you do is better when you can have the foundation in the Word and in your relationship with God.
Steve: We had decided to have a section within the store–just a small counter there at the front–of some books that have had impact on different people’s lives here. So it’s not necessarily the best sellers, but it’s just some of the really good books. It’s very exclusive. It’s just a handful of them compared to a bookstore that is going to carry thousands, so to have the Jesus Calling book there is exciting…to be able to have the opportunity to share that book with our customers and hopefully see that it has a positive impact on their life as well.
Jackie: I think one of the things I appreciate about Jesus Calling is the heartfelt way that each devotion is presented as a reminder that we just can go right to the Word, and the messages are always backed up with the Scriptures. They’re clear, they’re concise, and they apply to each person individually. The Word is planted in our hearts, and God will water those seeds as we meditate on Him. I think in my own busy schedule, I’m currently enjoying Jesus Always, the newer book. It often amazes me when I can open it up and see how God is just right there every day, and has the perfect message for me when I can give time to Him.
Presenting The History Of The Bible
Narrator: The Greens dreamt of a bigger way to share God’s love and the truth of Scripture. They go on to talk about their idea to show others the history and relevance of Scripture, which led to the development of The Museum of the Bible. This also led them to write a book about the Bible called This Dangerous Book: How the Bible Has Shaped Our World and Why It Still Matters.
Steve: It was really just a dream of having a Bible museum. There have been many that have had that thought and idea, and many have asked as we’ve been on this journey: “How come this hasn’t already been done?” Which is a good question. Here’s a book that’s changed the world and there’s not a Bible Museum of significance.
We’re just saying we want to present the facts of this Book and educate people about it because we probably know this Book less than we ever have as a nation because we don’t teach it as we once did. We just think it’s time to reintroduce this Book to a new generation and encourage them to engage with it and learn for themselves what this book is all about.
Jackie: I have been blessed to be co-founder and help Steve in whatever way I can as a mom and a wife, and also just joining in and helping with the development of events. I enjoy being a part of that aspect of doing the hospitality part of it, and having people at dinners, and just meeting people all over the world, and even around the world, that share the love for the Bible.
I just have enjoyed getting to meet so many different people, even people of other faiths. People in the Catholic world, and the Jewish world, as well as the Protestant world. It’s just been a lot of fun.
I love that the museum is going to be so great as a whole for an individual to come in and enjoy, or a couple, but also families. We have a children’s floor. We have a restaurant. So it’s going to be very user-friendly for everyone. My favorite part of the impact would be the stories. I love to connect with people and hear their stories and hear how God has been at work in their lives. And there’s a place where people can come in and record their personal stories.
This Dangerous Book: Sharing The Bible
Steve: It’s been a wild journey for both Jackie and I and all those that have been a part of making this dream come true.
So our book, This Dangerous Book, is telling three different stories. We tell a bit of the Bible story. We wanted a person to have a basic understanding of what the story is. We tell about this journey and building the museum and how we got involved. Some of it is just Jackie’s and my story as we’ve grown up in a Christian home and what that was like, and how we’ve seen God and directing our lives as believers in the Book and following and striving to follow its principles. So it’s not a scholarly book. We don’t get into languages and translations and all that. It is a book for people just to have an understanding of this Book’s impact in our life, and in our world, and understand a little bit about the Book itself.
The more we learn about it, the more I have come to appreciate it because there are the naysayers out there that sometimes sound like they’ve got some good arguments, but the more you learn, the more you know, the more you realize that there is an incredible Book that tells an incredible story. And the more I’ve learned, the more I have rubbed shoulders with some of the experts in their fields, the more appreciation I’ve had, and my faith becomes stronger.
Jackie: I think for our book, This Dangerous Book, I have learned a lot. As a believer, I’m not new to the Word. It’s been something I’ve grown up with, but I have been more grounded in the Word the more that I learn.
I think if there’s one takeaway that I would like everybody to grasp after they’ve read the book and after they’ve gone through the museum of the Bible, it’s just to say, “This Book is real, and maybe I should learn more about it.”
Narrator: Next time on the Jesus Calling podcast, as we look to a new year, we visit with two guests who have each started over in unique ways in their life. Emily Ley is a mom, a business owner, and author who recently found out that she had to simplify her life in order to really enjoy what mattered most.
Emily: I’ve loved reading Jesus Calling in the morning because I love that direct, specific and short reading that really just speaks to things that really matter. Life is busy and there’s a lot going on, and a lot of times it’s just so special to just sit down, and really find joy, and find truth before you start the day.
Narrator: Today’s featured passage comes from the December 1st entry of the Jesus Always audiobook.
Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for Me, not for men. Half-heartedness is not pleasing to Me, nor is it good for you. It’s tempting to rush through routine tasks and do them sloppily, just to get them done. But this negative attitude will pull you down and lower your sense of worth. If you do the same tasks with a thankful heart, you can find pleasure in them and do a much better job. It’s helpful to remember that every moment of your life is a gift from Me. Instead of feeling entitled to better circumstances, make the most of whatever I provide—including your work. When I put Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, I instructed them to work it and take care of it. Even though it was a perfect environment, it was not a place of idleness or total leisure. Whatever you do, beloved, you are working for Me. So give Me your best efforts, and I will give you Joy.
Narrator: Hear more great stories about the impact Jesus Calling is having all over the world. Be sure to subscribe to the Jesus Calling Podcast on iTunes. We value your reviews and comments, so we can reach even more people with the message of Jesus Calling. And if you have your own story to share, we’d love to hear from you. Visit JesusCalling.com to share your story today.