You Don’t Know What You Don’t Know

I had the privilege of interviewing David Green last week on our podcast, Pardon the Mess. Mr. Green is the seventy-seven-year-old founder of Hobby Lobby.

I didn’t know a whole lot about Mr. Green before reading up for the interview, but anyone who believes in selling Christmas decor in July is just simply one of my people.

But I really wanted to talk to Mr. Green about the religious persecution his company faced in the last several years that so publicly played out in the legal system.

Stay with me, this is worth your time.

Hobby Lobby and Religious Liberty

To net it out, under the Affordable Care Act, Hobby Lobby was forced to pay for medications that terminate pregnancies after conception. This was contrary to Mr. Green’s religious belief that life begins at conception.

The Green family decided to stand on biblical standards and challenge the law, even at the risk of losing their entire business in doing so. After a lengthy legal battle, the United States Supreme Court ultimately found in favor of Hobby Lobby by a 5–4 vote.

I was curious about what kind of man David Green was, as someone who was willing to lose his business for the sake of his faith. As a parent, I wondered how he’d been raised that had led him to stand that firm in his convictions, even when everything he had worked so hard for was on the line.

Modeling Generosity

Mr. Green grew up one of six siblings in a rural pastor’s home. Despite having very little money, his parents loved the Lord and made Jesus the center of their home. Over the years, people routinely gave his family food and clothes to help the pastor and his wife make ends meet.

Mr. Green talks about how his parents would sit down and figure out the dollar value of those donations, then tithe that amount of money back to the church.

Their generous hearts etched generosity onto his. His life was marked with an understanding of the importance of giving to God what is God’s.

What Are You Doing For the Lord?

As Mr. Green became an adult and began to see some success in business, he would call home and tell his mom about his promotions, salary increases, and other accolades he’d been awarded in the business world.

His mother always congratulated him but quickly followed up with: “What have you done for the Lord lately?”

Supportive of his accomplishments, yes. But holding her son accountable for more than successfully climbing the corporate ladder, absolutely.

You Don’t Know What You Don’t Know

Mr. Green’s parents had no way of knowing all those years ago they were raising a future billionaire. Literally.

They couldn’t have known that their small-town son, who hadn’t been particularly good in school, didn’t attend college, and had fallen in love with working retail at a five-and-dime, was someday going to be referenced by Forbes magazine as a “biblical billionaire.”

Yet his parents were faithful in the small things:

  • teaching their children to give generously to the Lord (no matter your means),
  • teaching them that the Bible was the authority on how they were to live their lives (at all costs),
  • and routinely pointing them back to the one thing that was most important for them to see in their kids’ lives: What have you done for the Lord lately?

As parents, when we’re faithful in the small things, the Lord can show his favor in the big ones.

When we teach our kids that there are nonnegotiables in living for Jesus and hold them accountable to it, we set them up for a life the Lord can use in big ways to further his kingdom.

We see this repeatedly in the Bible:

  • Noah’s mom didn’t know he would face forty days and forty nights, but she raised a son with obedience to build an ark in no rain.
  • Daniel’s mom had no way of knowing that he would end up in a lion’s den, but she raised a son who would know the importance of standing firm in his convictions.
  • Moses’ mom didn’t know that day at the river that Moses would be called to lead an entire people out of slavery, but she raised a son who would follow God’s direction despite his inadequacies.
  • Mary’s mom didn’t know her daughter would someday parent the Messiah, but she brought up a daughter who would hear God’s call and obey.

And David Green’s mom didn’t know his faith would lead him to a legal battle nearly costing him everything.

Are you getting it?

When it comes to parenting the kids God has entrusted you, you don’t know what you don’t know.

Here’s What We Do Know

It is only going to get harder for our kids to live for Jesus in this culture.

If we are going to raise the next generation of the church—that lives out their faith in big ways for the Lord—we’ve got to be faithful to parent them in the small places today.

When Hobby Lobby was going through this litigation several years ago and the very existence of their company was at stake, Mr. Green put a billboard high above their corporate headquarters referencing Daniel 3: “Our God whom we serve is able to deliver us.”

Here’s what we do know:

  • Like the Green family, we are called to raise kids to know God’s Word and stand firm in biblical beliefs, even when it comes at great cost.

  • We’re called to give them such a deep-rooted faith in Jesus from living in our home that they are fully equipped to run the race God calls them to, no matter how big or small.

  • And we’re called to tell them we’re proud of their accolades but also to follow it up with the bigger question: What are they doing for the Lord?

Because you don’t know what you don’t know—but God does.