The so-called “One Percenters,” those at the very top of the American economic heap, are favorite targets for politicians. In the name of populism, they are derided for their greed. Socialists blame them for “income inequality.” They are pictured in their limos and super-mansions and New York penthouses, uncaring about the needs of common people. How surprising it is then, to read the story of a “One Percenter” who is known primarily for his charity, his faith, and his abundant generosity.

David Green is the founder and president of Hobby Lobby, a chain of large craft stores with over 700 locations across America and over 32,000 employees. David could have qualified for the Forbes 400 list of the wealthiest billionaires on the planet if he hadn’t given so much of his fortune to Christian ministries and non-profits. This includes providing the lion’s share of funding for the new Museum of the Bible in Washington, D.C. His company is also known and celebrated for courage in standing up to the government’s overreach. Hobby Lobby fought the Obama administration’s attempts to force the company to pay for abortions, which are contrary to its spiritual and moral values. The 5-4 victory at the Supreme Court five years ago was a strong victory for the defense of religious freedom and the First Amendment.

The incredible story of David Green’s business success has profound lessons. He has lived the American dream. Growing up poor in a family of six  children in small towns in Oklahoma and Texas, and never attending college, Green discovered in his late teens that he had a love for retail. Working his way up from stock boy at “five and ten” stores in Oklahoma, he decided to assemble picture frames in his spare time as a side business. He would  cut the wood in his garage, and his wife and children would help him glue the frames in their kitchen. Their products sold to other stores, and they decided to open a small 300 square-foot craft store in Altus, Oklahoma. Those humble beginnings, along with hard work, fair treatment of customers and visionary risk-taking, resulted in today’s Hobby Lobby empire.

The most important parts of the book focus on how to deal wisely with material blessings in a way that honors God; how to make decisions about helping children and grandchildren financially and in their careers without making them dependent or taking away their initiative and motivation; and how to pass on a family business while avoiding the usual pitfalls and decline.

David Green, now in his 70s, is thinking clearly about legacy and what the future will be for his company and his family. He offers profound thoughts on how parents who have been financially blessed can make the best choices for the next generations. He talks openly about how to pass on our spiritual values to those who follow. And he offers insights into how one philanthropist has determined the best ways to respond to multiple requests for charitable gifts. Any Christian who desires to make a difference in the world, whatever your net worth may be, will find David Green’s book to be inspiring and thought-provoking.

by Pastor Doug Pratt

“My journey into generosity has shown me two important things… First, generosity has a starting point. You don’t just wake up one day and poof, you’re generous. It begins with a decision to steward your resources with a heavenly mindset. Second, generosity depends not on how much money we have but on the posture of our hearts.” – David Green, Founder of Hobby Lobby

David Green, Giving It All Away… and Getting It All Back Again: The Way of Living Generously (Grand Rapids, MI, Zondervan, 2017) p. 77.