Hundreds of students, faculty and friends from the Greenville community—including more than 100 employees from local Hobby Lobby stores—gathered in the Founder’s Memorial Amphitorium on Monday, Feb. 25, to hear Steve Green, president of Hobby Lobby, speak.
The Hobby Lobby Story
Green shared the story of how his family’s business grew from a small frame-making operation in a 300-square foot garage to the leading hobby store in the world with more than $3 billion in sales.
Green emphasized that Hobby Lobby’s rise was nothing spectacular. It was just a series of small and consistent successes blessed by God that led to extraordinary results. Today, Hobby Lobby operates 525 stores in 42 states with plans to expand even further this year.
Living Out Faith in Your Vocation
Throughout his presentation, Green continually pointed to the faithfulness of God in the company’s history and God’s ultimate ownership of Hobby Lobby. “It’s God’s. It’s not ours,” he says. “We’re just stewards of what God has given to us.”
This recognition of and reliance on God led the Green family to incorporate direct references as to how they would live out their faith in their company. Hobby Lobby’s statement of purpose states that the owners, employees, customers and the Board of Directors are committed to “honoring the Lord in all [they] do by operating the company in a manner consistent with Biblical principles.”
Trusting God for the Future
A key part of honoring God is trusting Him. Green recounted one particular story of how God inspired the family to trust Him with the future of the company. In 1985 David Green—his father and the founder of Hobby Lobby—gathered the family together and told them that he didn’t think the company could survive much longer. Profits were not what they needed to be, and it looked like the company would soon lack the finances to keep operating. But resting in God’s faithfulness, the family prayed, and God heard. In 1986 the company had its best profit ever.
This story inspired the family to affirm their trust in the company’s statement of purpose. “We believe that it is by God's grace and provision that Hobby Lobby has endured,” it reads. “He has been faithful in the past, and we trust Him for our future.”
This trust is also the impetus behind closing Hobby Lobby stores on Sundays.
God’s Word Changes the World
In addition to retail operations, Hobby Lobby partners with and operates a number of ministries. These ministries include efforts to publish and distribute Bibles and biblical literature to the entire world as well as the Green Scholar Initiative (GSI), which is dedicated to advanced Bible research.
A subset of GSI is a traveling exhibit called Passages. Passages contains 400 items from The Green Collection, comprised of over 40,000 biblical antiquities, and is among the world’s newest and largest private collections of rare biblical texts and artifacts. Passages is currently on exhibit through March 30th at 8405 IBM Drive in Charlotte, N.C.
The motivation for these ministries is rooted in the belief that God’s Word changes the world for the better. Motivated by this belief, Green plans eventually to create a curriculum for public schools that studies the history, impact and story of the Bible and to found a Bible museum in Washington, D.C. “If we want to see a change in our nation, I think it’s going to start with God’s Word,” he says.
Green pointed to his grandmother Marie as an inspiration to his own faith and to Hobby Lobby as a company. Marie often quoted the line of a poem that read, “Only one life, 'twill soon be past, Only what’s done for Christ will last.”
Though she didn’t do anything great from the world’s perspective, her simple and sweet faith made an impact on the Green family that is still felt today. Of her six children, five either became or married ministers of the Gospel. And one of her children—Green’s father—founded a business. It is called Hobby Lobby.
Hobby Lobby is the largest privately owned arts and crafts retailer in the world. Headquartered in Oklahoma City, Hobby Lobby employs approximately 20,000 people companywide and operates approximately 525 stores in 42 states. Hobby Lobby sales for 2012 totaled more than $3 billion.
Published March 1, 2013