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Leadership Not by the Book By David Green with Bill High

Leadership Not By the Book: 12 Unconventional Principles to Drive Incredible Results

Today, the CLA Higher Thinking Blog features an except from the first chapter of the 2022 release, Leadership Not by the Book, by David Green. This is used by permission from Baker Books, a division of Baker Publishing Group. David Green and Bil High presented at the Outcomes Conference 2021 and we are delighted to share this excerpt from their latest book with you!

Does God Really Own Everything?

The Word of God insists,

“The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it”

Psalm 24:!

No exceptions. No caveats. David likewise prays,

“Yours, Lord, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the majesty and the splendor, for everything in heaven and earth is yours”

1 Chron. 29:11

Just before the Israelites entered the promised land, Moses warned them,

“You may say to yourself, ‘My power and the strength of my hands have produced this wealth for me.’ But remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth, and so confirms his covenant, which he swore to your ancestors, as it is today.”

Deut. 8:17–18)

Has your power produced wealth for you? Has the strength of your hands created a thriving company? Moses would tell you, “You have what you do only because God gave you the ability to generate wealth.”

In fact, everything belongs to God. Wealth comes from Him and belongs to Him. None of us owns anything, whether we admit it or not. God owns it all.

Stewardship versus Ownership

If we don’t own the companies and organizations that God has enabled us to create, then how are we to manage them? If we’re not owners, then what are we?

Bible would answer, “You’re stewards.” You carefully manage the resources and property that belong to someone else—namely, God. I have discovered that every one of the vexing problems ownership created for me, stewardship has resolved.

When we acted as though we owned Hobby Lobby, we thought the company owed us. When we started viewing Hobby Lobby as God’s, we realized that we owe the company. We now see Hobby Lobby as a ministry whose mission God calls us to further through our service. We are stewards, not owners.

When you’re an owner, wealth can easily become a curse. When you’re a steward, wealth becomes a tool.

When family members see themselves as stewards, they don’t feel entitled to wealth. Unlike owners, they know they must earn their income through their labor.

When you’re not the owner, you’re just one among equals. As a steward, you’re not the elephant in the room.

It’s a hundred times better to be a steward of a company than to have to worry about how to handle ownership and who gets what after you die! Recognizing that God owns Hobby Lobby solved every one of my troubles with succession, inheritance, and operations. (If you would like the short version of how we handled these things, see appendix A.) But more than that, it set us up to make an outsized difference in this world that otherwise would have been impossible.

Give God the Vote

Leading as a steward of God’s resources requires divine wisdom. Just because you can do something as a leader doesn’t mean you should. Power can cause great damage when handled poorly—and a lot of power can cause a lot of damage.

Because God owns Hobby Lobby, I have learned to give God the vote in all major decisions. For those big decisions, I hit pause and set up the decision in a way that gives God the final vote.

I first saw how this could work through the example of a man named Gideon who lived a long time ago. He needed to make sure that it was God who had called him into battle against a huge enemy army. If God hadn’t instructed him to send his men into the conflict, he wouldn’t dare to put his soldiers’ lives on the line since it looked like a hopeless cause. He asked God for a sign of confirmation, and God gave it to him (Judg. 6). We often call such a request a fleece, recalling the unlikely nature of the sign Gideon requested. Gideon moved forward and won a great victory.

I’ve learned to do a similar thing when I face a big decision regarding some situation about which the Bible appears to give me no clear guidance. First, I pray about it and ask God to show me what to do. If I’m still unsure, I “put out a fleece” as Gideon did. I structure my requested outcome in a way that seems extremely unlikely. I stack the cards against myself, if you will. That way, if it happens, I take it as God’s answer that He wanted it to take place. If it doesn’t happen, I take it as God’s no.

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David Green borrowed $600 in 1970 to start making picture frames in a garage. He is now CEO of Hobby Lobby, which employs 50,000 people at 900 stores in 48 states and grosses $8 billion a year. The coauthor of Giving It All Away, Green received the World Changer award in 2013 and is a past recipient of the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award. David and his wife, Barbara, are the proud parents of three, grandparents of ten, and great-grandparents of seventeen (and counting). They live in Oklahoma City.

Bill High is the founder of Vyne Legacy—Family Fruit That Lasts. He is also the founder and executive chairman of The Signatry, a global Christian foundation. He speaks and consults regularly on the subject of family legacy, including leading biblically based workshops on the subject. Named one of the Top 25 Speakers in Philanthropy in 2015, High is part of the Forbes Nonprofit Council. Bill and his wife, Brooke, are the proud parents of four and grandparents of three. They live in the Kansas City area.


“I’ve written and spoken about God’s Kingdom agenda as His visible manifestation of the comprehensive rule of God over every area of life. I can think of no better person than David Green to write about God’s manifestation and the rule of God in the arena of business. This book, Leadership Not by the Book, is a must-read for those desiring to live by God’s Kingdom agenda with their business, their ministry, and their leadership.”

Dr. Tony Evans, president of The Urban Alternative, senior pastor of Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship

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