Staying true to one’s calling

Posted 1/18/22

To ring in the new year, a friend and I hit up Hobby Lobby last Saturday, one of our favorite places to shop. I’ll admit, we do walk up and down those colorful aisles for hours. After learning …

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Staying true to one’s calling

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To ring in the new year, a friend and I hit up Hobby Lobby last Saturday, one of our favorite places to shop. I’ll admit, we do walk up and down those colorful aisles for hours. After learning of its humble, divine origin, we’ll be planning even more trips to the retail shop devised in 1970.

David and Barbara Green, from Oklahoma, actually incepted the arts and crafts store from inside their garage. Forty years ago, the Greens were approved for a mere $600 bank loan to manufacture miniature frames. David would construct the frames; his sons, Mart and Steve would glue them together for a 7-cent wage; and Barbara would oversee shipping of their products.

Five years later, David quit his full-time managerial post at the five-and-dime, TC&Y, to launch Hobby Lobby’s first 300-square-foot Oklahoma storefront. Green attributes his success to heeding scripture, particularly Matthew 6:21, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

Today, the retailer is the largest, privately-owned arts and crafts business in the world — employing 43,000 within 47 contiguous states and now worth more than $5.1 billion. Wow.
The billionaire said the company always “honors the Lord in all they do,” reportedly donating in excess of $500 million to an estimated 60 different Christian ministries.

What’s interesting is the enterprise is owned entirely by the Green family. Their son, Steve, is Hobby Lobby’s CEO, their son, Mart, is its ministry investment officer, their daughter, Darsee Lett is vice president of arts while Barbara is a product buyer.

David Green was even instrumental in constructing and launching Washington, D.C.’s Museum of the Bible in 2017. The project was completed at a cost of $500 million, most of it funded by his son, Steve.

Coming from a long line of preachers, David Green said he honed his good work ethics from his father, who pastored a small, country church with 35 congregants. David Green is now ranked No. 79 in a list of America’s 400 Richest Individuals.

David Green continues to purchase properties for the purpose of donating them to Christian educational organizations. After acquiring the Ericsson plant in Virginia, he gave the parcel to Liberty University in 2017. The entrepreneur also presented an entire campus to Zion Bible College — both acquisitions costing Green $27 million. David Green bailed Oral Roberts University out of debt at a price tag surpassing $70 million.

Steve, like his father, is also not immune to philanthropy. In addition to funding the biblical museum, he continues to support the Green Scholar Initiative whose intention is to offer a Bible-based academic curriculum in our nation.

Running a billion-dollar enterprise is not without its challenges. David Green publicly opposed the Affordable Care Act, deeply concerned by Obamacare’s mandate that employers must provide women with access to morning-after pills. He argued before the Supreme Court in 2014 that he and his executives believed “four of the 20 contraceptive methods potentially terminated human life,” a total violation of his Christian faith.

During the unprecedented Supreme Court ruling, in a 5-to-4 vote, Green won his case against the ACA citing failure to comply due to his religious beliefs as part of the 1993 Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

Isn’t it amazing how David Green, who only attained a high school education, attributes his entire fortune to a higher power? His plans for the future are admirably simplistic: He wants to be a good steward of God’s money, and he wants to earn enough in a “godly, ethical way” to donate even more to the ministry.

I see quite a few more shopping trips to Hobby Lobby in our future. What better way to support an organization whose administrators stay true to their divine calling?

Kim Lambert is a former reporter with The Daily Record and former editor of The Angier Independent.

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