Putting People First and Redefining Philanthropy with David Green – EP 137

Interview with David Green

Mario Matavesco

Putting People First and Redefining Philanthropy with David Green

How do you transform a $600 startup into a thriving multi-billion dollar business that not only endures, but flourishes for decades?

This remarkable feat is achieved by only a select few, and our guest on today’s episode, David Green, is one of those exceptional individuals.

David is the Founder and CEO of Hobby Lobby, the world’s largest privately owned arts and crafts retailer. Since founding it in 1972, he grew his company from its modest beginnings to an astonishing $8 billion empire, employing nearly 50,000 individuals across 970 stores nationwide.

David’s business model places paramount importance on the well-being of his employees, guided by his unwavering faith and a purpose that extends beyond mere profits. It is this unconventional approach that David attributes to the enduring success of Hobby Lobby.

A tangible manifestation of this philosophy is evident in the fact that all Hobby Lobby stores close their doors on Sundays, allowing employees to dedicate time to their faith, family, and well-being. Moreover, Hobby Lobby’s commitment to giving back is truly remarkable. The company generously donates over half of its annual profits to charity, all while maintaining a strong and sustainable financial standing. These decisions not only align with David’s core values but also serve as a testament to the fact that a business can thrive while remaining dedicated to its higher purpose.

In this episode, you’ll learn:

✅ The story of how David built the most profitable private retail chain store in the country on a $600 loan.

✅ How David, despite being a billionaire, maintains a humble outlook and does not associate wealth with personal value.

✅ The compelling reasons behind David’s decision to give away his multi-billion dollar company.

Featured on This Episode: David Green

✅ What he does: David Green is the Founder of Hobby Lobby, the arts & crafts shop he founded in 1972 with a $600 loan. Since then, his empire has grown from a single 300-square-foot store in Oklahoma City to over 970 locations, with over $7.7 billion in sales. A devout Christian, he still serves as Hobby Lobby’s CEO and goes to work six days a week. Stores are closed on Sundays, and workers make one of the highest minimum wages in the country, well above the federal minimum wage. He is a donor to a group called He Gets Us, a $100 million campaign to promote Jesus and Christianity, which ran two ads during the 2023 Super Bowl game.

💬 Words of wisdom: We all just learn all the time, and we still fail, and still hopefully, we do it better tomorrow than we did yesterday.” – David Green

🔎 Where to find David Green: Facebook

Key Takeaways with David Green

  • How putting employees before profit pays off big in the long run.
  • Acknowledging that sometimes doing good comes with a hefty price tag.
  • Why the most profitable retail chain in the country is closed on Sundays.
  • Building an $8 billion retail titan on a $600 loan out of a garage.
  • The joy of fulfilling work – when retirement feels unnecessary.
  • Don’t base your self-worth on the numbers you see in your bank account.
  • A look at David’s remarkable stewardship, which led to the distribution of 1.5 billion Bibles across more than 100 countries.
  • Why you don’t have to be wealthy to be charitable.

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David Green | Build for 150 Years, Not Just the Next Generation

David Green Tweetables

“If you can't give when you have a small amount, you're probably not going to give.” - David Green Click To Tweet “See, we all have something to give. Sometimes, it’s time, and sometimes it’s influence. God has created us different, but I think he's given all of us purpose.” - David Green Click To Tweet


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Read the Full Transcript with David Green

Justin Donald: Well, hey, David, it’s so great to have you on the show. Thanks for joining.


David Green: Hey, it’s good to be here with you.


Justin Donald: Yeah, this is fun. Well, I’ve been really looking forward to this session for quite some time. I know we’ve been working out the details here for a little bit, but I’m just blown away with all the things that I’ve learned from you that you’ve been able to accomplish over the years, wisdom that I’ve gleaned. It’s just been a real treat to get to know you, and I’m just excited to have you on the show. So, thank you so much for being here.


David Green: You’re welcome. Thank you.


Justin Donald: Yeah. So, I would love to learn a little bit more about you and about your story because you have figured out a lot of things in the world of business, in the world of finance, in the world of relationships. But I don’t know that it started that way. Understanding what I know about you, you started from very humble beginnings and you started like most entrepreneurs from one spot, from one shop, one small location, and kind of grew it from there. And I’d love to hear some of your story.


David Green: Sure. I guess, the main thing I would say is I came from a pastor’s home and that really gave me a tremendous background of, and from a preacher’s home and a mother and father that were really great, great examples for me. So, that’s the foundation that I had. And you talking about learning. I’m still learning in just about every area that you discussed. And so, now, we all just learn all the time and we still fail, and still hopefully, we do it better tomorrow than we did yesterday. So, that’s kind of where we are today, is still learning.


But anyway, I had a tremendous background, and with a father and a mother that were really people of integrity, I learned from them so much. But yeah, we pastored, my mom and dad pastored churches that were small, probably never over 100, and there were six children. So, you can do the math on that if you want it. But in the same time, we saw God always provided for us. We were always provided for. So, we just saw God’s miracles in provision and what he had done for our families. So, that really gave me a lot of faith in him and to serve him and to give him glory for all that we do. So, that was a good start in my life as my upbringing and my heritage.


Justin Donald: Well, I love that. And I feel very blessed in the fact that I grew up in a Christian household. And my parents are very strong in their faith, always have been. And I grew up going to church from the youngest of age that I can remember. And there’s actually kind of an interesting story that I’m going to get to a little bit later about a church right down the road from me. But I’ll save that here for a little bit because I want to explore more of your story.


And I just think that what a gift it is to learn foundational life skills, foundational skills, I mean, just foundational lessons in faith at a young age that no matter what type of storms come, you can weather those storms, right? Adversity, I think, can impact you a little bit differently when your mindset is a little different when you come from a place where it’s not all up to chance. Would you agree?


David Green: No, I would definitely agree. I think for all of us that are Christians, if we really believe that the Bible is God’s word, we have such a foundation that we can work on. And so, my life, I want it to be, it has not always been that way, but I really want the foundation of who I am and what our family is, is God’s word. And so, sometimes, people talk about wisdom. Well, I don’t know how much wisdom I have, maybe none at all, but I do have God’s word that really gives me a solid foundation on how to guide my life. And God has left us with his word. And that’s what we think is so beautiful and what we love so much. And so, we’ve spent a lot of our time and effort just seeing that everybody has God’s word.


Justin Donald: Well, you’ve done a great job over the years of being very vocal about where you stand and how firmly you are in your faith. And it has shown up in the way that you run business. I think most entrepreneurs really try to maximize the dollar. They really try to cut expenses as much as they can. They try to grow profits at any cost. Unfortunately, I think most entrepreneurs are that way, especially when they’re being backed by money and they’re on the proverbial treadmill, someone else’s treadmill, right?


But you’ve done it a little different. You’ve got this incredible company that everyone knows the name of. It’s a household name. And Hobby Lobby, as a child, I shop there for my arts and crafts. My daughter today shops there as a 10-year-old for her arts and crafts. And you have really created this framework of hiring great people, paying them well, because I think your minimum wage is something in the 1,850 range, and then you don’t work on Sundays. The store is closed.


David Green: That’s correct.


Justin Donald: And so, I’d love to learn more about your thought process there because people had to tell you that you are nuts to do that, right?


David Green: Yeah. And I tell people sometimes, there’s so many things we’ve done that was completely against, I mean, biblical principles that says, no, this is not the right thing to do. And so, I always have to tell people when you do that in every case, I want to tell you something that might surprise you, it costs. It costs money to be closed on Sunday. It costs money in the last two or three years, we stopped selling Halloween and we were selling tens of millions of dollars. It costs money for us to sue the government. There’s a lot of things that I can tell you that it costs when you do something.


But if something doesn’t cost, it’s not worth much. But on the other hand, I said in the bigger picture, in the bigger picture, I think God wants it that way. And when if we did everything because we were going to make more profit by closing on Sunday, that would not be the right motive. We closed on Sunday because we just thought it was the best thing for our employees to be off and go to church.


So, I think he wants us to do things like not selling Halloween. He talked to us about that. That’s up to you if you want to sell it, but for us, we felt like we need to be out of it. But I just use those as an example. So, there’s so many examples, when it looks like it’s going to cost almost every time it does, but at the same token, God has blessed us beyond anything that we could expect in the bigger picture of things. So, he has blessed us to try to follow after him and do what we know that he would have us to do.


Justin Donald: Yeah, it is great seeing, you said earlier that you’re still learning today and I feel very much the same way that I am an eternal student. I just want to learn. There’s so many topics I want to learn on. There’s so many people that I want to spend time with and learn from, you being one of them. And I’m excited to come visit you and the headquarters here in a couple of weeks. I’m absolutely thrilled about that.


But when I think about your business, I mean, the “smartest of the smart people” said your model would not work. You’re giving away half of your profit to charity every year, half of your profit to kingdom work every single year. This is not supposed to work. The Ivy Leaguers said it wouldn’t work. The people doing case studies said it wouldn’t work. But it seems to have worked really well because last numbers that were out, I think you guys are at 970 locations and $7.7 billion in revenue. So, I’d love to hear your thoughts on the fact that it did work.


David Green: Well, the only way we can explain it is God blessing us for trying to give this thing to him. Not giving it to him, maybe that’s the wrong way to, but acknowledging that he owns it. The Bible is so plain, it says he owns everything. How can I own what God owns? We can’t both own it. So, if he owns it, then I’m a steward. And our lives is nothing but a vapor. So, how can anybody own anything when their life is a vapor and God owns it?


So, here again, what we’ve tried to do is drill down on what does that mean to be good stewards. And as good stewards, we want to give the monies that belong to God, to him to do various ministry projects. And we get a tremendous amount of joy for that. So, we’re a company that has no debt and grows every year. We’ve been growing about 50 stores a year until COVID. But by the way, we’ll open our 100th store in about two months. We have 100 stores that are all paid for, no debt, and very, very successful, closed on Sundays, closed at eight o’clock, have one of the highest minimum wages, but it’s all a God thing.


And what God does for us is he sends us great people. So, I have to give a lot of credit to a tremendous amount of people that we have here that make all this happens. But I know we get those people from God and He blesses us with them.


Justin Donald: Well, I love the framework that you operate as an entrepreneur. I love that you put your people first and say, “Hey, let’s look at the needs of the employees. Let’s look at the needs of the people that run the company, not just the customers, not just the numbers that Wall Street and the publications are going to enjoy, but the people that are really building the business.” So, I think that’s incredible.


A fun little story, I don’t know if you know this or if you remember this. I’m sure you have some insight, but we’ve never discussed this. So, I grew up in Elgin and I grew up right down the road from Safety-Kleen right there, and they had their big headquarters. And somehow, Hobby Lobby or you may be separate from Hobby Lobby, ended up owning this building that you ended up donating to Harvest Bible Church. And a ton of my friends go there. And that church has been hugely impactful on many levels. And so, I thought it might be fun for you to hear kind of this story go full circle from someone that was profoundly impacted by your generosity.


David Green: Yeah, God has allowed us to buy a few buildings at a very, very good price and then gift them. And so, we have been able to do that over the years. And that’s one of the buildings I do recall, has been a few years ago, but I do recall that particular building.


Justin Donald: So, that building for perspective, just so those listening and those watching have context, but that’s a $9 million at that time, a $9 million facility and headquarters. And it is a gorgeous, gorgeous campus. And so, I love the work that you’re doing in the world. I think it’s incredible. And that’s part of the reason I’m so excited to come visit you here in a couple of weeks in Oklahoma City at your headquarters to learn all about the cool things that you’re doing with 150-year legacy planning.


And I’d love to just chat with you about how you even came up with this idea or thought, like, I guess I’ve always thought in terms of, well, while I’m on Earth, here’s the impact that I want to have, and then I sure hope that I have modeled this well and put some parameters and frameworks into place so that my family does the same. But you’ve actually structured it in a way where you can let some of your charitable giving and some of the passions that you have carry on long after you’ve passed from this life.


David Green: Correct. Actually, what we have done is we have everything we own. The companies, the investments, everything we own is in 100% is 1%. And there’s seven of us that sits on a board that we’re our stewards. We’re not owners, we’re stewards. So, I owned 85% of this company at one time, but now, I’m one vote of seven. And that’s all I have and that’s all I want. Because if I’m not here tomorrow, very little changes. Someone else takes my place on a board.


So, to be on this board, you have to be people that love the Lord and are godly people and will guide what belongs to God in the future well. So, we want to be good stewards. That’s our key. He owns that. We want to be good stewards. So, we only see ourselves as stewards. And once a month, we come together and decide what we’re going to do with the profits which we give half of our profits away and have for about 25 years. And then the family decides on what they want to do.


But I always also say, if you don’t have family members that can be on a board, don’t use family board. Family is good if they’re right, but if they’re not, wrong, and they’re not people that love the Lord and want to do something to expand the kingdom. And that’s what we want to do. We say there’s only two things that’s eternal, and that’s God’s word and man, so. And so, we want to commit ourselves to those things. We can spend a lot of our time doing things. It just doesn’t matter a hundred years from now. So, we want to make sure what we’re doing is going to make a difference in people’s lives.


Justin Donald: Yeah, that’s absolutely powerful. And so, in 25 years, you’ve given away half of your profits. What does that total come out to that you have given away?


David Green: Well, that’s one question that I don’t know that I would go with, but let me just say it’s in the billions. So, it’s a lot. And so, we tried to be careful in this. The Bible says don’t let one hand know what the other does. And we think about that. But we also think about how that we want people to know what God has done and how he’s blessed us in a big way. So, there’s a reason for us saying that, God, we give 50%, and that is to tell people, “Look what God has done.”


I think when we’re saying, look at what we’re done, we’re in trouble. And we never want to do what we have done, but we don’t want to do that. We want to say what we’ve done is because God has blessed us and to encourage others to do the same. And that is to do something not because they want to be personally blessed, because they get joy at bringing people to know Christ. And that’s the end game for us is tell more people about Jesus and have more people that accept him as their personal savior.


Justin Donald: That is powerful. And it’s really fun to think that, I believe you started with your first craft shop back in 1970.


David Green: Yes.


Justin Donald: With a loan, a $600 loan?


David Green: We borrowed $600 to make frames in our garage in 1970. And in 1972, we opened our first store in ‘72. Two years later, we had sold enough of these frames to have about $5,000 or $6,000 worth of merchandise in a store that would be the size of a living room, Lelo store here in Oklahoma City. So, our store was in 1972, our first, and it was a very, very small store.


Our first full year, we did $36,000. So, do the math on that. That didn’t hardly take care of the payroll, but we kept buying and selling frames out of our garage, our selling frames, making and selling frames. And the profit that we made from that, we pumped into the retail because that was our lab, not manufacturing. And manufacturing is really the way we got started. But our lab was retail.


Justin Donald: Yeah, that’s amazing. And to go from 300 square feet to all the different locations that you have today, and obviously, one of the things that I think a lot of people don’t know is you’re still very active in your role today. I remember when our mutual friend Pete Vargas introduced us and you spoke with our group, The Wellspring, you said, “Hey, I’m involved in the business and I love having involvement in the business. I still love making decisions and I love involving God in the decisions that I make, even when they seem like really small decisions.”


David Green: Well, one of the things that I always like to make sure people understand, we really think you need to be when you have a lot of kids, you need to have a balanced life in terms of your life. And that’s what we try to get of our employees. That’s why we’re closed on Sunday. We work five days a week.


I work six days a week because my wife is busy. She says it’s okay. I tell her on Saturdays, if you feel like a widow, just call, I’ll come home. I don’t have to be here. But I love working and our kids are grown. They’re away from home. So, I’m not a perfect example of the amount of hours someone should work, especially if they’ve got kids at home. But anyway, we enjoy it.


The Bible says if you don’t work, you don’t eat. And I want to eat, so I’m going to continue to work. And I need a job. So, people need something to do, golf, fish, something. But my whole thing is just coming to work and finding something to do here. So, that’s what I love to do.


Justin Donald: Well, one of the cool things beyond work that I’ve observed you be part of is a group called He Gets Us. And you’re one of the donors in this group, in this charitable movement. And one of the cool things that was seen this year on the Super Bowl were a couple of different commercials sharing that. And I’d love to hear your thoughts behind that and what it is today and how you were able to get a couple of Super Bowl ads being the most expensive advertising to purchase.


David Green: Well, it’s important for me to say that there’s a lot of people that contribute to this and that aren’t part of it because the thing that we want to happen is for someone to see themselves in Jesus and not a third person. So, there’s a lot of people that are Christians that have contributed and a part of this. So, that’s very, very important for me to say because we want to tell people or those that are involved in that, want to tell people that there’s someone that loves them and that gets them. And so, we were definitely part of that, with thousands, hundreds if not thousands of people that have come alongside us.


But we really feel like that we need as a group of Christians to tell 350 million people, 350 million people that he cares about you and he gets you and that’s what he gets you means, he gets you, he understands you. He has some of the same problems you did. And so, that’s very important for us. And so, this program, we don’t think is a sprint, but it’s more of a long-term thing that we want people to continue to know that he gets us. And so, that’s the idea.


What we’re known as, as Christians, we’re known as haters. We’re beginning to be known as haters. We hate this group. We hate that group. But we’re not. We are people that have the very, very best love story ever written, and we need to tell that love story. So, our idea is let’s tell the story. As a Christian, you should love everybody. Jesus loved everybody. He died when we were yet sinners. And we just want everybody to know, we being those that are involved, which is a lot of people that want to tell people that he gets you, he understands you, and he can be your friend. And when you have problems, there’s someone you can go to and you can receive eternal life through the death of our Christ. So, that’s the story that’s being told.


Justin Donald: Well, it’s incredible seeing just everything come together from the standpoint of like even how do you market that, how do you bring the teams in that can create a commercial that can be captivating, that can kind of grasp all the different things that you’re looking for in a short, what, 32nd window? I mean, it’s really amazing seeing that creativity. And so, I kind of knew about these commercials ahead of time. And so, I was looking forward to seeing them and spotting them. And even I was unsure until the end, like, was this the commercial, was that it? So, I feel like it was a job well done.


David Green: Someone says about after, I think it was two or three days after the Super Bowl that the He Gets Us ads were talked about more than all the other ads combined. So, that’s good. We want people to talk about and to understand that he gets us. And I think God has given the group that has put this together, I think the really right words and I think the right words is he gets us. So, there was a lot of time spent in marketing and how do you reach the people.


Think about, for instance, New York City, the metro area has 20 million people. Do you ever drive in there and you say, “Do these people know Jesus? Do they have anybody even told them about Jesus?” And so, how do you reach 350 million people without the media? It hasn’t been done. We think it needs to be done, and hopefully, with a tremendous great number of people coming together, we can tell 350 million people. At some point or the other, on a billboard, someplace, they’re going to find out there’s someone that gets them.


Justin Donald: Well, you’ve got depression at an all-time high, you’ve got anxiety at an all-time high, you’ve got just so much unrest in several different categories that we could go into from the standpoint of financial markets, the banking industry, the racial inequality. There’s just so many different things going on, and even we’re in another political year, political season. So, it’s like you’re feeling this tug, this pull. There’s just so much happening. And I feel like what better time than now to kind of give people a message that has joy attached to it instead of the sorrow, the grief, all the things that I think we see on the news for those that watch the news. I stopped watching the news a long time ago, but I love that the He Gets Me campaign is going strong and giving people an outlet.


David Green: They need hope and we have hope in Him. And so, that’s what we believe we need to be doing now because the suicide rates, everything you said is true. We’re living in a time when we don’t know up from down, I mean, we’re just pulled. But there is one person that gave us God’s word that can guide us, and this is what we believe God can do and Christ can do in people’s hearts.


Justin Donald: You recently wrote a book. And I’ve got it right here, Leadership Not by the Book.


David Green: Right.


Justin Donald: And so, we got a chance to kind of dive into this book a few months ago as it came out. And I’m just really impressed with the quality of content in here. But I would love for you to share kind of your thoughts and why. Why now? Why write a book today when you’ve done so much already? I love that you did, but I’d love to hear your story around it.


David Green: Well, there’s quite a few different chapters in there that I think that I really wanted to speak to the public. And I said one of the greatest things as people that have God is blessed a lot and to let them do something besides just for themself in some sort of world that they don’t need to be in. The Bible also tells us that we need to be content. Are we content? Or do we need another house? Do we need a bigger boat? What do we need? I think God wants us. I learned this from my parents.


I think if you gave my mother a million dollars, she would have given it all the way because she was content with her life. She was very, very successful, not in the dollar and sent things you see today, but in the terms that she knew where she had hope, she knew where she was going at the end of her life. She had a marriage that lasted for life. She had children to serve the God. She was very, very successful. And that’s what real success is.


So, in this book, hopefully, we talked about what real success is, and it’s not millions and billions of dollars. And so, we really want those that all of us, whether we have a lot to give or not. See, we all have something to give. Sometimes, it’s time and it’s influence. Different things that each one of us has to give, we have something different. God has created us different, but I think He’s given all of us purpose. What is our purpose? And so, hopefully, in this book, someone, if they haven’t found their purpose, knows that God has a purpose for their lives and they can make a difference in other lives.


Sometimes, I say, and I don’t know I should be saying this on media, but sometimes, I talk about the book that says good, the great. I haven’t read the book, I have to admit it, but someone says there’s nothing eternal about it. So, I would have to say it’s good, the better. Okay. I don’t see anything great. That doesn’t matter a thousand years from now. So, what we want to do, and what I think this book spells out is the fact that we need to do something. There is a purpose in our life. We need to find it and we need to get on with it. And so, hopefully, we can all do that. And we are trying to do that here. What does God have for us? And what can we do to tell more people about Him?


Justin Donald: Yeah, that’s great. And are there other actual lessons? Or I guess you outlined a few things in the many different chapters that stand out. Were there things to you that were really close to you personally, things that maybe you observed, like, hey, society does it this way, but biblically, I know to do it this way?


David Green: Yeah, there’s several of those in there. I can’t pull them up right now, but I can think of one or two, for instance, I think, just those that are employed for us. I think at one time, God just said to me, I put these people in your charge. So, how can I be an example to them? And I tell people, if I only had $1, I would give it to my help before I give it in some– to missions, as an example. So, I really think that in this book, you’ll find out it’s very, very important for us to come alongside those people that have made all this happen. So, we’re very, very focused on the people that have brought us here. And we know that they, with God’s help, have brought us to where we are.


So, I think we go into that a little bit and different areas of just business of, we talked earlier, just about doing what’s right regardless of the costs because I think in the book, I’ve talked about several different things that I knew going in, it was going to cost me. I had a property that I had a 15-year lease, and after five years, I had to leave because gangs would just come in and it was putting people in harm’s way. And I had 10 years left on the lease and I had an alcohol company that was willing to take me out of it. It was a wholesale liquor company. And I said, “No,” I paid for that lease for 10 years, so I did the right thing, but it costs me for 10 years. That’s one of those things that I talked about that sometimes you do the right thing and it costs. But I have to come back to say, God, because we do that, I think, blesses us in the bigger picture.


So, there’s a lot of those stories in there that we put together. That’s how God has blessed us when we’ve done the right thing. Just do the right thing. And that’s what we’ve tried to do. Not that we always have, but we’re trying to move into that direction.


Justin Donald: Well, there are a lot of chapters in here that really spoke to me. I mean, I love this. Put your employees first, not your money. You just talked about that. The drive family practices, not profit practices, I love that. You’ve already hinted through that throughout today’s episode. But I’ll tell you, the one that really just resonated and I guess just made me sit back and contemplate life more than anything else, any other book I have read, and I don’t know, most of my life, you had a chapter here, Billed for 150 Years, Not Just the Next Generation.


And I got to tell you that chapter kind of messed me up. I sat there. I mean, my mind is still racing today about it. I’ve become obsessed with– it’s interesting. Part of me was, like, well, I don’t want to give the wealth that I’ve created away to my family, or all of it or even part of it, if it’s going to cripple or hinder them or enable them in any way. But then part of me always felt like, well, I can solve that by just giving it away. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re giving it to a charity or an organization that’s going to steward that money right either, like they may not be equipped to do that. And so, this has been a pretty powerful topic, subject, I mean, just thing I’ve been wrestling with this. And so, I’d love to just hear your thoughts on it, especially before I come out and hang out for a couple of days with you.


David Green: Well, what you are saying is you want to be a good steward. You’re concerned about where the money goes. And so, that’s why we call it the Green Stewardship Trust. We’re stewards. It belongs to God and what would you have us do with it, God? And so, we have about 300 requests for money every month or approximately. So, there’s a lot going on.


So, once a month, we know what we’re going to vote on. Before we vote, there’s seven of us, we pray about it. We come together. It’s not like we’ve done everything perfectly. But our family would say 95% of what we’d given to the last 25 years, we’re okay with. We’ve been with companies like OneHope for 25 years that have given a billion kids the gospel. Every Home for Christ, we’ve been with them about 25 years. It’s given a billion homes the gospel. So, we’re very, very pleased and have joy in what we’ve done in our finance.


But you can’t give to organizations that you’re just wasting your money. So, we’re asking God for guidance. It was his before we earned it. It’s his after we earned it, the same. So, now, we’ve got to steward it. So, we need to take and we all need to take very serious what God has entrusted on us to be good stewards of what we have, and not just our finance, but our time, our influence, all the things that we have because we have different things to give. And so, we just want to be good stewards. And that’s why we call it the Green Stewardship Trust. God help us.


And also, the Bible says and a multitude of counsel, their safety. So, we think there’s a lot of safety coming together. Sometimes, I go in these meetings and I know what we got to vote on, and I cry even before we get started. I don’t know what to do, but every single time when we finished and everybody gets to speak, everybody’s an equal, we’re really pleased with what we’re doing, what God has given us. So, I think there’s a way that you can gift what God has given you in such a way you feel like God is also with you and with your decisions.


Justin Donald: Yeah, that’s such a profound way of kind of looking at everything. And it’s interesting, like if for those that have wanted to be charitable or have done any sort of due diligence on charities, you will find that the vast majority of them have an overhead that’s 40% to 70% of the dollars that are donated. And some of them, I mean, I’ve seen some that it’s like 90%, 95%. So, basically, you’re donating money for them to have a charity but not do anything with the funds that are being donated. And it’s really a shame.


So, not only do you need to do– I talk a lot about doing due diligence and doing your research and your homework on companies you invest in and whatever the investment vehicle is, but on the charitable side, it’s the same way. There are good charities, there are bad charities, there are charities run by people that have great integrity, and there are charities, unfortunately, that are run by people who do not. And so, yeah, that’s important.


What I love about the way that you’ve gotten me to think is that instead of entrusting it all to one charity or 10 charities or 100 charities, instead it was this framework that I hadn’t looked at before, which is why don’t we create a trust, an entity that can how is this, where we can set up the framework, we can set up the structure, we can set up the guardrails, and we can put in play people that can help make these decisions. So, instead of the money not being used in its highest and best use, it can do so long after we have left this earth. And that has just been so inspiring and so captivating and so motivating for me. So, I just want to thank you.


David Green: Well, one of the things we do also is because there’s literally thousands of charitable organizations out there, hundreds of thousands, for that matter, and so, we feel like God has guided us to do a few things in a larger way. I mean, just we’re involved with He Gets Us. That’s a larger thing. OneHope has a billion kids. How do you do a billion kids in 25 years that has the gospel? How can that be wrong? We’re also involved in getting all the translations of all the languages that we, among tons of people, want.


There are 6,000 languages. And the Bible says, “Preach the gospel to every creature.” How do you do that without the gospel? So, you need translation done. So, there’s projects like that, God’s Word, that’s one of our main projects. So, we have a few that we’re deeper in, but we still do some smaller things, but probably, 85% of our finance goes to probably seven or eight different ministries.


But these are ministries in most cases, we’ve been with many, many years. We know who they are. None of them have probably spent more than 10% for management and overhead. So, those are the things that you’re talking about that’s very, very important. You’re not a good steward if you’re paying for some ministry that spends 90% or even some crazy number.


Justin Donald: Yeah, there’s no doubt. And it’s interesting in this. I mean, gosh, I could go so many layers deep. Let me just kind of create an analogy here because, on the investment side, I talk a lot about investing with my community. It’s something that I’ve been active in for about 25 years. And more specifically, on the private equity and alternative investment side for about a little over 15 years. And so, I always kind of look at these investments as a portfolio, certain allocations to certain things.


And it’s interesting because if you look at the charitable side, there’s a certain amount that I think when you’re entrusted with the responsibility of great wealth, you are in turn entrusted in how to make sure that it’s going to other things, like we can’t just be consumers, we can’t just keep consuming. The more that we have, we need to be giving and we need to be charitable and we need to make sure that money doesn’t have a grip on us. And so, when I think about charitable giving, you can almost look at it like the investment side where you’ve got a portfolio and you have maybe your largest holding with this company, but you want to spread it out over these different niches, right?


We’ve got some, for us, it’s important on the human trafficking side, and you’ve got this here, which is clean water and this is really important because so many third-world countries don’t have clean drinking water. And a lot of dangerous things happen on the way to getting the water. And you’ve got over here this charitable organization that helps out right here in the United States and this one that helps out over abroad in various different countries. And so, I love taking the charity side and kind of making it more like a portfolio. And you can look at it as like a portfolio of impact.


David Green: Yeah, you think about the Bible and we think about all the things God has asked us to do. Like we feed children and we drill water wells. But in every case, we also talk about Christ. You can drill water and people never tell people about their eternal life. They’re just their vapor life. Our vapor life is real short. And then we have an eternal life.


And why would you help someone in their vapor without taking it to another level? So, we never get involved with feeding children. All the things that God has asked us to do, we want to do that. But there’s also something that really, really gets us exciting, and that is the Bible says, “Preach the word, the gospel to every person.” And so, that’s one of the biggest challenges he’s given us. By the way, we’re just going to take care of the hungry and the thirsty just because we’re Christians, that’s just natural. But we ought to also be smart about it by talking to them more than just giving them clean water, but also talking to them about their eternal life.


Justin Donald: Yeah, that’s great. So, I hesitate to even ask you this question because I know one of the things that you don’t want is to draw attention to yourself, but at the same time, what you’ve been able to accomplish, it’s going to be hard to not draw attention to yourself. So, I’m going to ask you a question here because it pertains to just the fact that for years, you’ve been on the Forbes billionaires list. You’ve done well in the world of wealth creation. You’ve done very well in the world of giving it away.


But I also think that today, there’s almost this culture or this feeling like, maybe only the wealthy or only wealthy people should be giving or providing, or are they giving enough? I know you’re completely generous and charitable. My big question to you is, do you need a lot of wealth to be charitable, both with time, with money? For you, when did it start? When did you begin this? Because I think I hear people say all the time, well, yeah, when you have great earthly riches, it’s easy to do that. But it’s actually not if you haven’t been doing it early on, like, if it’s not a habit that’s kind of foundational, it’s actually not easy. It actually can become harder from what I have observed in my life and in the life of those that I know that I’m close with that have amassed great amounts of wealth.


David Green: Yeah, I would argue in most cases that if you don’t give when you have a small amount, you’re not going to give when you have a large amount. And there’s a lot of people that are more charitable that give a lot less. You think about the scripture that talks about the widow that gave what she gave. She gave more than the rich man. So, God sees things so much different than we do. And so, I just want to know that we’re just doing what God would ask us to do. But I think that if you can’t give when you have a small amount, you’re probably not going to give.


And by the way, maybe you have a small amount because you’re not giving. That may be the reason. Maybe you’re not paying your tithes. But wealth also has to be redefined. Wealth is not a lot of money. I said that earlier. My mother was wealthy, but she had very little. Think about a marriage that lasts us forever. Think about all of your children serving the Lord and your grandchildren. Think about when you’re dying and you got your daughter holding you and says, “Do you see them? Do you see them?” And she says, “What is it?” She said, “Angels.” That was a wealthy mother.


A billionaire would love to die the way my mother did. So, I don’t see wealth as a lot of money. It’s a lot of responsibility. But God says too much giving as much is required. So, it’s required of us. But all of us can be generous with whatever God gives us. Sometimes, it may be, as we said earlier, our time, our talents, our influence, different things that we all have that we need to be charitable and give back to God what he’s given us.


Justin Donald: That’s powerful. And even just the reframe of, hey, maybe you’re not wealthy because you’re not charitable or you’re not giving what’s been entrusted to you. I often say within my community and the Lifestyle Investor community, that at any level, like all of us are top 10% of the world of income earners, at every level, right? If you are here in the land of the free, if you are in a first-world country, you are already so much further ahead than most people worldwide. So, we all have been blessed.


But it takes a different way of looking at it to recognize. It’s really easy to always want what other people have or what you don’t have. It’s a lot harder to recognize how great you have it. And you mentioned this early on when you talked about contentment and, I mean, that’s one of the things that I work so hard to feel and be and live a life of contentment. And I think– so anyway, what I say to my community all the time is if you can’t give at whatever level you’re at, then money has a grip or a hold on you, right? You don’t own money. Money owns you. If you cannot give of your money, then it most certainly owns you.


And so, I have found early in my career, I didn’t give, then I didn’t give much, then I didn’t give joyfully. And so, it’s like every iteration I’m being refined and resharpened to the point that now I can give, I can give joyfully, I can give generously, and I want to help other people experience it because there is so much fulfillment in being able to provide that way and everyone has the opportunity to experience it.


David Green: It’s good. That’s good. And one of the things we got to remember in the Bible, no matter how much you make, the Bible, I think, would ask us to pay our tithes. It’s the only place in God’s word that says, “Give it a shot. Try me and see if that’s not true.” It’s the only place in the Bible. And my parents did that. My parents, when I was raised in the 40s, people would bring tithe in their vegetables because they had vegetables but not cash. And my mother and dad would write these things down to pay tithes on them because it was increased. They went to pay tithes with the increase.


And I saw how wealthy they made them, not the way world sees wealth. But the wealthiest thing for me is when I pass away to know my children are serving the Lord and have the marriage that God has given me for 62 years. So, God has given us wealth in that respect. And that’s the greatest wealth we have. There’s our children serving the Lord, our grandchildren serving the Lord, and the marriage that we all want. And by the way, there are no perfect marriages. I haven’t had one, but in the bigger picture, God has blessed us.


Justin Donald: Well, I just hope that I can even have a small fraction of the abundance that you’ve experienced across the board from marriage to family, relationship with your kids, relationship with your grandkids, a knack for entrepreneurship, a knack for loving people well. And it’s really just inspiring, David, I’ve got to tell you, and even just introducing me to Bill High, who works hand in hand with you as a good friend, but also helps run your estate and has done some incredible stuff. I mean, that guy is a wealth of knowledge. And I feel blessed that I’ve gotten a chance to have several conversations with him that I think are really shaping the direction that we’re going as a family and some of the family values. And really, it has just been such a blessing to get to know you, to have you on the show, to learn some of the things that you have learned, and for you to just be willing to share of your gifts the way that you have so freely. So, I want to thank you.


David Green: You’re welcome. Enjoyed it.


Justin Donald: Well, I hope that we can have more people in our audience learn more about you and learn more about Hobby Lobby and more about your book. So, where can people go to find out more?


David Green: The first place you have to go is the Hobby Lobby store, okay, but if you can’t find it there, which you better, but anyway, you can get it just about anywhere. Amazon, yeah.


Justin Donald: Well, I love it. Any final words that you’d love to share as we wrap up our time here together?


David Green: No, I don’t think so. I enjoyed talking to you. And I think when I talk, I always like to make sure that all of us need something as a foundation. And I want for me and my family to be God’s word and not that I got it right. I have it right all the time, but I think it’s so important for us to stand, have something to stand on, because if we have not, the scripture, and if we don’t believe this is God’s word, we’re out here in Never-Never Land. And so, I don’t want to be there.


And so, I appreciate God’s word. And that’s why, by the way, the museum, that’s why we are working to get 6,000 languages is God’s word is so important to me. And one of these days, maybe I’ll get it right, but at least I know where I can go to find out how to guide my life.


Justin Donald: I love it. And what you’re talking about is the museum that recently opened in Washington, DC, right? I think back, in 2017, there are– I’m not sure if this is many families or if this is just your family, but I know that you have been a huge advocate of this. And really, it’s the Museum of the Bible. So, do you want to share anything about that before we wrap up?


David Green: Well, my youngest son is the one that is the CEO, is the chairman of that organization. So, a lot of people came alongside helping financially to put the museum together. But the reason it’s there, and you asked for the last words, last words for me is God’s word. And so, it’s so important to us that we wanted to put it on a shelf. If anybody studied anything about some of our colleges, like Harvard and Yale, they started out that way. But they’ve worked away and they’re as far away from God as they can possibly be.


And so, our life and my life, and hopefully, all of our lives is about knowing from whence we got– was created, knowing our creator. But we really think the Bible is so important to run our lives. I tell people I have no wisdom outside of what God’s word is. God’s word is the wisdom that helps us to guide our lives. And so, we love it. That’s why the museum, that’s why we’re working along with a lot of other people to have 6,000 different languages that everybody has God’s word. So, those are the things that we really get excited about. And given God’s word to a billion children and given God’s word to a billion homes so when the, really, bottom of us and who we are is about God’s word, which takes us to eternal life. So, those are the exciting things that we get involved in.


Justin Donald: Well, thank you so much for taking the time to share all these great things with us and share your story and share your faith and share the journey that you’ve been on. So, it’s been wonderful. I love ending every episode that I do asking a question of my audience. And that really is a simple question, although I’m going to tweak it, for the first time, I’m going to tweak it. What I normally ask, I’m going to switch it up a little bit.


So, normally, I want to know what people’s takeaway is in getting on their path to financial freedom. I actually want to know both that for financial freedom and spiritual freedom. So, what is holding you back? What’s holding you back from financial freedom, from spiritual freedom, from the freedom that you know that you deserve? And what did you learn in today’s episode to help you conquer this and really kind of check off this milestone in your life? I’d love to hear about it. Send us an email. We’d love to support you, but thank you for tuning in. And we’ll catch you next week.


David Green: Yeah, good, very good.

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