When Malcom Chapman speaks to a group, he often starts by saying: “I am a product of separated and divorced parents.”
Chapman, of Rapid City, South Dakota, says he asked to be and was raised in the home of his paternal grandparents when his parents divorced. While his mom, dad and maternal grandparents were actively involved in his life, his nuclear family included his paternal grandparents, an aunt and her two children, and his younger brother.
“Jokingly I say it was too much adult supervision,” says Chapman, who grew up in Chicago. “But in reality, I got everything I think every child should receive. I was challenged, disciplined and there wasn’t a single day that I didn’t know I was loved. I wouldn’t trade my childhood for anyone’s.”
He played high school and college sports, and then served in the U.S. Marine Corps, where he earned the rank of captain.
That’s the key to life. Let the heart lead the way.
Chapman’s formative years set the stage for his life of gratitude and service. He’s a community leader, speaker and consultant. He’s a Bush Fellow and today works as a grant maker with the Bush Foundation. The foundation provides grants to people in Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota and 23 Native nations who think bigger and differently about solutions to problems in their communities.
He volunteers on local, regional and national boards, including currently on the board of the
“My role there wasn’t to agree all the time. It was to listen, to understand the issues and how they would impact the community,” he says.
Chapman and his wife Cheryl (whom he proposed to the night he met her) have three adult children. “She didn’t say yes that night, but eventually we married in 1994,” he says.
How did he know Cheryl was the one? “That’s the key to life,” he says. “Let the heart lead the way.”
How did you first learn about Thrivent?
Cheryl grew up in the Lutheran church, so my first introduction was when we bought life insurance policies in the late ‘90s. We are longtime members of Calvary Lutheran Church in Rapid City, active and serving on several committees and councils.
What’s your first memory of money?
My sister and I would pool our money and buy snacks. I also remember going with my grandfather when he’d take his paycheck to the bank. He’d wait in line and make a deposit. I was curious what was on this check. How was that money, and why did he trust to leave it there?
What are your guiding principles around money decisions?
Spend less than you earn. Make investments. Avoid debt. Be generous. We should always share; it’s not ours anyway.
What’s the best piece of financial advice you’ve ever received?
I think it came from my dad: Start as early as possible and save 10% of everything you earn. I’ve tried to pass that on to my children as well.
What’s your favorite volunteer activity?
I’m a lifetime Optimist Club member, a service organization that focuses on youth. A lot of my volunteerism is around youth. When I was in elementary school, my mother made me help two boys study for a quiz. I didn’t want to. One of the boys told me he got the highest grade he’d ever received, and it was because of me. Ever since, I’ve thought about the gift he gave me by telling me and how I felt. As a result, I want to contribute and serve.
How do you show gratitude?
I think about gratitude as being thankful for whatever experience, moment, person or relationship is before me. I have five tenets written down that help me show gratitude: making financial contributions, giving gifts, serving and volunteering, sharing radical hospitality and providing for emotional relationships. If these things are happening daily, my life is richer.
What does it mean to thrive with purpose?
Thrive conjures up movement. I think thriving is about changing, growing, and for me personally, love is the most important thing. But it’s relational how love manifests itself—with God, family and friends.