I had never heard the phrase “spiritual capital” until I had the chance to review Theodore Roosevelt Malloch‘s book Doing Virtuous Business: The Remarkable Success of Spiritual Enterprise for Booksneeze.com.
Until I read Mr. Malloch’s book, I was only vaguely aware of corporations with a spirit-infused culture. Companies like Chick-fil-A (which surprisingly doesn’t make an appearance until the end of the book) readily spring to mind as well-known faith-based companies. But through numerous case studies to backup his claims, Mr. Malloch meticulously makes the case that doing business in a virtuous manner is the only way to ensure long term success and profitability.
Doing Virtuous Business is divided into 6 chapters where Mr. Malloch deals with related topics such as spiritual capital (1), virtue (2), faith, hope, and charity (3), hard virtues such as leadership, courage, patience, perseverance, and discipline (4), soft virtues such as justice, forgiveness, compassion, humility, and gratitude (5), and some common objections (6).
This book struck a chord with me because early on in my career I decided I wanted to start a business with the express intent on building it around Christ-centered values. Though I possessed precious little knowledge of business itself, I instinctively knew that if I were to form a business that would not only survive (the failure rate of start-up businesses is astronomical) but thrive (meaning it would fulfill my deepest desires and goals in life) it would need to be build on something more transcendent than quarterly profit reports.
One point of concern I had with this book is how Mr. Malloch seemed to posit a view of faith which made it more of a blind leap into the dark (ie. Immanuel Kant’s upper/lower story dichotomy) than simply a conclusion based on evidence that is held on to in spite of uncomfortable external circumstances.
Where other authors have taken on the task of defending capitalism from its critics, specifically showing Christianity to be compatible with capitalism. Mr. Malloch’s book is unique in that it attempts to meld the valid concerns many liberals instinctively raise with the historical success of capitalism as fleshed out by businessmen who understand their chief aim is not simply to turn a monetary profit, but a cultural and spiritual profit as well.
I must also point out that I found Mr. Malloch’s section answering skeptical questions to be rather apt. I think the answer to the person of no faith’s objection was excellent. I’ve known many companies that operate either knowingly or not on the spiritual capital invested by others. I’ve also, unfortunately, seen companies (or unscrupulous businessmen rather) attempt to pillage spiritual capital from others and/or fake their.
I also loved how Mr. Malloch pointed out how modern spiritless attempts to infuse ethics and virtues into businesses ring hollow. There is, simply put, no substitute to real spiritual virtues like compassion, forgiveness, charity, etc.
Overall I would highly recommend this book to anyone who wants to know where business and spiritual interests intersect, why it matters, and how they can work together to provide a rich blessing for everyone.