After decades of accruing professional experience from Minor League Baseball to the real estate market, Christian businessman and activist David Benham is airing out his wealth of wisdom for aspiring entrepreneurs.
In an exclusive interview with The Western Journal last month, Benham spoke in depth about three biblical business practices that have guided he and his brother Jason’s every venture, from the wildly successful to the troubling and trying.
The Benham brothers’ first major moment in the national spotlight was a trying one, coming in 2014 as HGTV publicly canceled a planned home renovation program starring the 44-year-old identical twins. Their unwavering support for traditional marriage and the pro-life movement had been a point of contention with the network and its audience.
Since then, recurring appearances in the news cycle and several more high-profile entrepreneurial endeavors have made the brothers a household name in conservative, Christian circles.
David made headlines again on April 11 when he was arrested for alleged violation of a state public health order while offering counseling services to pregnant women outside an abortion clinic in Charlotte, North Carolina, amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The young entrepreneur, who was released from jail later in the day, had been serving with Cities4Life — a nonprofit pro-life ministry he founded in 2011.
Taken into police custody despite saying he had observed the proper social distancing procedure, David fought the detainment as an unlawful violation of the group’s First Amendment rights. He later sued the city, according to The Associated Press.
The incident captured widespread attention from conservative politicians and people of faith, with many highlighting it as an example of public discrimination against those deemed too vocal in their advocacy for more traditional values.
Using the controversy for good, however, Benham saw the arrest as an opportunity to live out those values in front of a wider audience.
At the heart of that effort — and every business venture the brothers have embarked upon — is Jesus Christ’s Great Commandment: “to love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind” and to “love your neighbor as yourself.”
The Benhams’ three key biblical business practices:
For God, every detail is important. For a client, “nothing is too small,” Benham told The Western Journal. An action might seem small, but the intention behind it never is.
After stepping away from Minor League Baseball in 2001, David Benham worked as a school janitor. The work was challenging; it certainly wasn’t an upgrade from chasing dreams of becoming a culturally influential Christian athlete. And to make matters worse, the former ballplayer was anything but familiar with the day-to-day job activities.
“I exchanged a baseball bat. Now I’m holding a broomstick and I had to come to through grips with myself,” Benham said at an online-only networking event through Sure Connexions in June. “I don’t like telling people that I’m a janitor. I loved it at the Christmas parties. ‘Yeah, I’m a baseball player.’ Now, ‘Yeah, I’m a janitor. Oh, and I have no idea what these 16 keys on my hip really actually go to. And I barely know how to change a trash bag and snake a toilet, let alone fix an air conditioner.’ “
“I was horrible, but I did my best,” he added.
It was in those challenging moments that Benham recalled a childhood memory: the time his father took him out to the mall … to watch a busboy working at Denny’s restaurant.
The man was older and his job, to some, hardly would make him memorable. But when Benham, his father and brother arrived at the restaurant window, a crowd was gathered to watch the man work. It took him only a moment, clearing the table in a flash before checking his watch and departing.
All in a day’s work.
The small excursion had been a teaching moment for Benham’s father — an opportunity to relay to his sons that, no matter how humble the work, you must always work with purpose. It is a matter of stewardship that, when God entrusts you with work, you do it well and trust Him to work greater good and reward from your efforts.
“Every job that I do, including studying for college or playing baseball and preparing for a game or any little thing that I had to do, I wanted to do it with all my mind, even when no one recognized me and it was seemingly insignificant and small,” Benham told The Western Journal. “As soon as we started our business in Charlotte, that was a guiding principle from day one.”
“That was very simple because there are a lot of real estate professionals that would do certain tasks for clients — helping them connect utilities, meeting inspectors out at the house when you don’t really have to meet them, you know, just little simple things that you don’t really get a lot of credit for — and you certainly don’t make any money on — but when you’re faithful in those little things, it turns into a referral source,” he added.
Similarly, Benham suggested that upstart Christian businesspeople do everything in their power to make service a primary focus in their labor and entrepreneurship.
While finding their way in the business world, the Benham brothers often were forced to pick up odd jobs in order to make ends meet. Strange hours and at times grueling work, however, brought an abundance of lessons.
One of which, stumbled upon by the brothers as they worked a one-day gig for a local print-shop owner while attempting to get their real estate operation off the ground, was that it never hurts “to produce more in value than you take in pay.”
Making quick work of their assigned duty in the print warehouse, the brothers weren’t ready to stop, instead moving on to organize major sections of the facility, which previously had been a mess.
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On returning, the thrilled print-shop owner offered both brothers permanent positions previously closed to them.
“That was where Jason and I realized, ‘Wow, did you see how this dude immediately flipped?’” Benham said. “In one day, he says, ‘I don’t have a job — just one day’s work.’ Then he comes back and offers us both full-time jobs. It’s like, wow. We just, all we did was more value than we took in pay. And it opened a door that was already closed.”
“So, specifically for us with real estate, we would always go that extra mile with either staging the home or the extra mile with an extra mowing or, you know what, I’m going to go ahead and put flowers in your beds, because I think it’s gonna make you a little bit more money,” he said.
“You know, just a little thing, not anything overwhelming. I’m by no means eliminating my commission, and all I’m doing is giving things to people — you can’t do that because you can’t run a business in that way. But it’s just the little touches that by using that little extra value, it really helped our business grow.”
David Benham also was firm in discussing the entrepreneurial relevance of Christ’s call for followers to “love your neighbor as yourself.”
Christians in the business world are in a unique position to drive positive cultural change and extend a hand to others, whether they operate a small business or a multinational operation. According to Benham, the expanded resources and engine for opportunity at their disposal must never be wasted.
“Don’t glean to the edges of your field,” Benham said.
Coming from the lesser-known biblical story of Ruth and Boaz, the statement was a nod to historical Israelite farming practices by which the perimeter of a crop was left untouched by its owner so that the working poor might join in the harvest, providing a meal for themselves and a service for the farmer.
Though largely unrelated to even the modern agricultural economy in the literal sense, the principle has been foundational for the Benham brothers, keeping their business model “people-driven, not profit-driven.”
From extending hiring opportunities for underprivileged individuals to engaging in charitable endeavors, excess resources often can be leveraged for God’s kingdom. And, though the result isn’t to be expected or sought, such investments often will pay dividends in the way of more diversified business success and a better community.
The Benhams lead by example in this wisdom, having established pro-life and gospel-preaching ministries at home and abroad, funding local mentorship programs and investing holistically in their employees, all while their business ventures flourished.
“You do have to pay attention to your bottom line. If you don’t pay attention to your bottom line, you’re not being a faithful steward,” Benham said. “But our primary focus is people, not profit.”
“And what happens a lot of times in business is, as Christian business owners, we have this paradigm that we make as much money as we possibly can so that I can give to the poor. Now, while that is important, to some extent, the real biblical principle that Jason and I found even more valuable is to leave room in your business for the working poor. In other words, don’t suck out all of those lower-level jobs with really good technology. Now, yes, you need good technology,” Benham said. “But sometimes you need to say, ‘You know what? I’m keeping these two positions open because I know there are people out there that can really use a good-paying job.”
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