Putting Faith to Work: Greg Menna and District Doughnut
Updated: Mar 4, 2019
by Henry Leachman
Fellows exists to inspire and equip the rising generation of church leaders for the workplace, church, and society. Indeed, making the clear connection between work and faith in Christ is essential as we seek to earnestly steward our gifts in each of life’s many endeavors. Using the rich experience of Fellows, combined with an entrepreneurial spirit and a desire to serve others, Greg Menna founded District Doughnut, which serves the DC area with carefully curated, hand-crafted doughnuts with exceptional customer service to boot.
Here, he shares not only the journey that led him to the opportunity, but the way he clearly connects his faith to the work before him.
Greg Menna is the Co-Founder and CEO of District Doughnut and completed the Falls Church Anglican Fellows program in 2011.
Henry Leachman currently works at District Doughnut and completed the Capital Fellows program in 2018.
Henry: After the Fellows program, did you ever imagine yourself in the position you are in now?
Greg: In short: I never even considered working in a business until the opportunity to start District Doughnut came about.
However, I applied for The Falls Church Anglican Fellows Program because I believed that I had a calling to lead but had not found the specific path that God had designed for me to take. I am motivated physically and intellectually, and during and immediately after the program, I clamored for an opportunity that would challenge and develop both of these ways that God designed me. Though I considered a career as a military officer, a pastor, and in international justice efforts, I realized that none of these were my calling.
Then, one of my lifelong friends called me and asked me to take the reins of an idea in which he saw truly grand potential. From the moment of his request to my “Yes”, to today, my sense of calling was (and is still) not based on a belief in my own extraordinary character, piety, or leadership capability - far from it! In truth, I have struggled regularly, even daily, to take confidence in being a leader because I am increasingly aware of my great weaknesses, shortcomings, and character flaws. But at every turn, God has honored my tiny faith and often-weak and delayed obedience with unimaginable blessings of strength, resolve, perseverance, and favor in my (and our company’s) efforts.
Henry: Why is it important to not only create a great product, but deliver it with great service?
Greg: The best way to speak to the world about Christ is through a life of integrity and commitment to what He gives each of us to do. Every human being, even those who have not come to know Christ, possess both a deep need for meaning and an aversion to hypocrisy. When a company creates something excellent but does so without genuine love for the recipient, they create an ultimately unsatisfying and unstable experience.
Though we are considered one of the best-in-class for our product, this would be crumble were it not for the extensive efforts that we have taken to hunt down our customers to serve them in a special way or to correct something that was not up to standard. The truth of 1 Corinthians 13 is written into the fabric of culture and human understanding - we are nothing but white noise if we make the best doughnut in the world but care not for the very man or woman who is enjoying it.
“We are nothing but white noise if we make the best doughnut in the world but care not for the very man or woman who is enjoying it”
Henry: Why are you committed to building an outstanding corporate culture? How?
Greg: District Doughnut has two “products” - doughnuts and our corporate culture. In the same way that we must constantly and carefully scrutinize each step in the handcrafting process of our doughnuts, we have the responsibility and joy to seek to reshape, bolster, and elevate the way that we work together and relate to one another.
Currently, we are seeking to establish a formal framework within which our team can excel and care for each other in the same way in which we have been cared for by our Lord and by many great people in our lives. Real organizational structure and thorough systems are the only adequate foundation for the development of a real, unique corporate culture. We are truly excited to finally reach the stage where we, as the leaders, can have enough separation from each operational detail to better focus on future growth for the company as a whole. Exodus 18 shows the indispensable importance of separation for the purpose of delegation, as this ultimately acts as an exponential multiplier and accelerator of God’s plans for his people. In other words, the more that each man and woman seeks/accepts and exercises real responsibility, the more truth and goodness that God can bring into His world.
Henry: What are some of the challenges you have faced when trying to seamlessly integrate your faith and work?
Greg: Understanding the actual distinction between my vocation and my own identity is one of the most difficult aspects of this integration. The Lord made us and saved us so that we would give ourselves fully back to Him. In order to do whatever the Lord gives us to do “with all our might”, we will find ourselves blurring the line between who we are and what we do. So, we must surround ourselves with men and women of integrity and honesty who will act as guardrails and guides to point us back to the Lord himself and not only the work He has blessed us to do.
Second, leadership is intrinsically lonely and can lead to feeling alone in our faith. A leader must necessarily take many actions and make many decisions with little guidance, previous knowledge, and often without a sounding board. To operate within a corporate leadership context without the companionship of like-minded Christians can make moral reasoning quite challenging. Even a small organization presents incredible complexity that requires many “stabs in the dark” where one learns through failure. This, however, proves to sharpen a Christian’s capacity for moral reasoning and prevents them from being “too heavenly minded and no earthly good.”
Henry: Finally, how has the Fellows experience helped you frame these ideas?
Greg: The Fellows Program clarified my approach to life and the world as a whole, which in turn enabled me to keep my bearings amidst a dive into the unknown of entrepreneurship. The friendship and guidance of older men of faith and brothers in the faith, whom I met through the Fellows Program, have been my ballast through many difficult storms, as they reminded me of our Lord’s ways and truths despite my immediate circumstances. As far as I can tell, the Lord wants each man and woman to live with vigor and with a fire of love in their hearts for Him and His work in this world, my fellow Fellows and I did all that could to we spur one another on toward this. It was a truly unforgettable experience.
The transcript of this interview has been edited and condensed for clarity. For more on Greg’s work in action, visit https://www.districtdoughnut.com/
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