I recently got a copy of Giving it All Away...And Getting it All Back Again by Founder and CEO of Hobby Lobby, David Green. I usually read with a pen in hand so I can underline and make notes in the margins. This book was such a good read! I was challenged to dream bigger, think bigger, pray bigger, and give bigger.
"Hobby Lobby takes half of total pretax earnings and plunges it directly into a portfolio of evangelical ministries," reports Forbes.
We've all heard stories of successful businesses having small beginnings, and I love love love those stories. Hobby Lobby opened its first 300-square-foot store in 1972. Today, they have 822 stores! (They just opened one in Uvalde, Texas!)
Green says in the book's prologue, "The funny thing about the questions of life is that the ones we ask at the end are the one we should begin with. It is tough to craft a meaningful life without considering our end: What do we hope for, what do we dream for, relative to our lives, our family, our children?"
Marcus and I are in the place right now, with a small home office, but also considering the idea of what it would look like to grow. While we have enjoyed meeting new people and clients at local coffee shops, restaurants, and even our home dining room table :) we believe we can better serve people with more square footage. Would you join us in praying for that?
Anyhow, back to the book!
Green shares how he grew up as a pastor's kid. His parents were often resourceful with very little, and very generous with what they had. (As a PK himself, Marcus can relate!) Green grew up, as many do, with the idea that those who were part of ministry roles like pastors and missionaries were "called," and not sure where he fit in.
"There was no category in our theology for people who were called to 'secular' pursuits, like business. Now, though, I realize that a man can be as called to business as nay preacher has ever been called to the ministry. But back in those days, devotion to business proved I was backsliding!"
He also talked a lot about legacy. About how our work ethic matters, how we treat our spouses matters, what is our heart's true treasure matters, too. In times of crises, like when Hobby Lobby sued the government in 2012, these values that were already established helped guide their decision making process as a leadership team.
Here are a few challenging ideas:
In Chapter 5 "A Company Owned by God," Green shared how they decided to give their base-paid employees a one dollar raise each year for several years in a row.
This is unheard of across-the-board-generosity for entry level sales jobs. Having worked at LifeWay bookstore retail and Apple retail, Marcus and I both know "that ain't normal!"
With each of the pay increases, it equalled about $10 million. "Amazingly," he says, "it never showed up on the bottom line. Why? Because we were running more profitable stores. ... Our profits have grown each year since we increased pay so dramatically."
Valuing their employees in this way led to the average longevity of their employee on the sales floor to increase from 18 months to 36 months. (Wow!)
In Chapter 6 "Journey into Generosity," he talks about stewarding our business resources with an eternal mindset and the posture of our hearts. After feeling the prompting from God to give $30,000 to a mission organization back in the early days of the company, he took a faith step.
He didn't have that much to give, but wrote four separate checks for $7,500 and postdated them one month apart. The very day he sent the gift, was the very day four African missionaries gathered together to pray for the $30,000 they needed for literature funds. How cool is that?
Green says, "It settled permanently inside of me that God had a purpose for a businessman. He had called me. He had blessed me. There must be a role for people like me in the work of the Kingdom of God."
There's a lot more in the book, but this blog is getting long! And I don't want to get into trouble for quoting him too much! :D
Whatever area, whatever market our business gets to serve, we want to do it with God in mind, with crazy generous open hands, and with excellent service that values people above all else.
Now it's either time to read a good book, and/or go shopping! Haha!