What it is the role of faith in business? Does virtue make a difference? Business recognizes the value of social capital, is there such a thing as spiritual capital? One of my summer reads was Doing Virtuous Business by Theodore Roosevelt Malloch. I received a complimentary copy through the BookSneeze program of Thomas Nelson.
Virtuous is the key word in the book and the title. Malloch affirms that people and therefore companies can lack faith and still be virtuous. Even more he affirms “virtue endures and spreads because it is sustained by and through faith.” (p. 144)
The book’s main idea develops the concept of spiritual capital. The bottom line is not profit, but virtue. Key resources are not merely material, but spiritual. Wealth is not the ultimate goal, but a byproduct of doing virtuous business.
By looking at hard virtues (leadership, courage, patience, perseverance and discipline) and soft virtues (justice, forgiveness, compassion, humility, gratitude), Malloch provides historical context from Aristotle to Aquinas to Calvin to the application of these virtues in specific businesses today.
My favorite part of the book is this closer examination of hard virtues and soft virtures. He digs into their meaning, their origin, and how they have been applied in companies like Service Master, Tyson Foods, IBM and others.
As a pastor reading the book, I kept thinking this is a good understanding of how the law God writes on our hearts is lived out. Virtuous living can lead to positive results. Most world religions find the value of faith in what one does, and seeks to find their god’s favor in how they live.
What was missing for me in the book was a critique of those who claimed to be virtuous, but were not. The Christian concept of sin was missing, as well as the understanding of grace. When he arrived at specific questions of cynics, Christians and pragmatists in chapter 6, the Christian question he addressed dealt with Christ’s words about it being “easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle then for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven.”
That wasn’t my question as a Christian. How does Christ uniquely influence one’s work? What about the Christian understanding salvation is not what I do, but what God has done? The answer of the book did not matter whether one followed Buddha, Allah, or Christ. He readily admits an atheist can be virtuous, he just draws on the spiritual capital of others. That surprised me.
I still give the book 4 out of 5 stars because it does lay out its title: Doing Virtuous Business. Addressing not only the hard virtues which business books typically address in the areas of leadership, courage and discipline, but even more in addressing the soft virtues especially the power of gratitude, justice and compassion make this book a good leadership read.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com <http://BookSneeze®.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255