Donovan Rogness Shows Biblically-based Presentation on Power of Investment for Economics Class

“Why did Jesus talk about money so much?” The question from Donovan Rogness hung in the air during Big Boss Monday in Economics class. Donovan is a 2001 graduate of Hillcrest who owns and operates a construction management and land development company. Students were reeling after Donovan’s lead question. Donovan referenced that Jesus spoke to money over 2300 times in the Bible. Donovan said that Jesus talked about money more than love, heaven, and hell combined. Donovan continued, “It’s something that He knows if we abuse it, can take over His role in our lives.”

Bibles clapped on the desks before students flipped the thin pages following Donovan’s commands. “We’re going to read a parable that Jesus spoke in Matthew 25.” Students scribbled the Bible reference on the worksheet Mr. Garvin provided. “We’re going to read this in the mindset of an investor.”

Donovan read the passage out loud. Students dragging their fingers along the pages of their Bibles as they followed along. “There’s three different advisors that he entrusts his money to,” Donovan continued, pointing to tie points that helped students gain a picture of what Donovan does in construction management and land development. “The reason I do this (look at the Bible to explain my job) is because it is super important for me to have Jesus look at me at the end of the day and say ‘Well done, good and faithful servant.’”

Donovan used the Bible passage as a spring board for students to catch a glimpse at what motivates him in his job. He outlined how he strives to live his life, with family, friendships, and his job in a way that honors God. Having set the ground work in Scripture, Donovan pivoted to explain his business to help students understand that managing finances well is a God-honoring endeavor.

“Why do people invest their money?” Donovan continued. He pulled out a list of reasons after a few students shared their thoughts. He referenced security and safety as a primary motivator for investment. He spoke to some who look to simply compound their wealth and prepare for retirement. He shifted to explain his investment plans for people looking to invest their money. He started by explaining how his business in land development and construction works to meet needs.

“When we look at property development we first need to figure out what kind of need is in a community.” Donovan spoke to needs in a community, mentioning housing, storage, and recreation. He spoke to forming a land development idea that would be used in a community and bring a return on investment. “These are investments for the long haul. This is what people will do when they have an abundance of resources.”

Donovan drew attention to a detailed worksheet. He called the sheet a pro forma worksheet and began going over the specific items to help students understand what goes into the investment process. Income, expenses, financing, and cash flow were main headings on the sheet. Large amounts of money were detailed on the sheet. The financing for the proposal Donovan is working on topped four million dollars. After explaining the categories Donovan continued, “So, this is something we would sell to the investors. We have our building, and design. We figured out our cost pro forma. So we tell investors, ‘If you invest x amount of dollars we project a cash return of 5%.’”

After explaining the basic principles of his company Donovan gave greater perspective. “This is what’s super important to me. When we finished reading out of Matthew 25, the master gave five bags of gold and the investor earned five more.” Donovan paused to let the point sink in. “When money doesn’t become your master money can be a good thing.” Mr. Garvin interrupted the lesson to make a point. “Jesus says that when you can be trusted with little, God will trust you with more.” Pencils in students’ hands started writing the point on their worksheets. Building wealth is not bad, and is supported in the scripture in being good stewards.