Doctor of Leadership in Global Perspectives: Crafting Ministry in an Interconnected World

How Do You Teach Others To Dig In?

Written by: on April 23, 2023

Max Weber’s work The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism was published in 1905. Weber investigates the relationship between religious ideals and economic development in Western Europe in his book. He believed that Calvinism, with its focus on hard work, delayed gratification, and worldly success, played a significant role in the creation of modern capitalism. Calvinism was a form of Protestant Christianity created in the 16th century by the French theologian John Calvin. Calvinism, at its core, highlighted themes such as predestination (that one’s eternity is determined by God alone at birth), emptiness (that humanity is fundamentally evil), and asceticism (which values labor above leisure). Weber contended that these forces combined to generate what he called “the spirit of capitalism” – a diligent and thrifty mindset that was primarily responsible for Europe’s economic change at the time.

At its core, Weber maintained that Calvinism had a distinct set of ideals that aided in the cultivation of the spirit of capitalism. Calvinists, in particular, believed strongly in predestination, or that God alone determined one’s eternity at birth. This provided them with a tremendous motivation to pursue wealth and success on earth in order to gain salvation in heaven. Beliefs in emptiness (that humanity is fundamentally evil) and asceticism (which valued labor over leisure) were other important components. These principles resulted in a focus on personal discipline, self-control, and frugality – all of which are necessary characteristics for successful business people or entrepreneurs.

Weber also maintained that the bonds between Calvinist congregation members were vital in igniting economic growth. The close-knit nature of the communities created trust among members, allowing them to collaborate on common goals or business initiatives without fear of being taken advantage of. Members also had a higher level of psychological investment in their community as a result of their shared experience in church services and activities such as Bible study groups, which encouraged participation and provided support when they failed or had difficulty finding success.

Finally, Weber argued that Calvinist theology had an impact on everyday life outside the Church as well, arguing that people tried to live their lives according to Christian teachings such as hard work and frugal living even when dealing with secular matters such as business transactions or investments. This concept influenced capitalist development further by encouraging individuals to pursue not only their own financial goals, but also those of those around them – if you succeeded, everyone else prospered along with you because there was a sense of mutual benefit from doing so rather than just personal gain.

Finally, The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism shows how religion can shape our world views beyond what happens inside churches or temples; it has implications for how we approach all aspects of life, including financial decision-making. While other cultural foundations for economic progress (such as education or technological advancement) are certainly necessary, this work serves as an important reminder that faith can be both personally fulfilling and produce tangible results throughout society at large.

“The Puritan wanted to be a person who lived up to his calling, which meant that he was willing to work hard, save money, and invest it wisely. He believed that by doing so, he would be serving God and contributing to the greater good of society.” (1) 

I wanted to break this quote down further into examples of what I am currently working through within my ministry/NPO as well as be able to have an opportunity for a more relaxed/less rigid post…

Something that I am struggling with within my context of ministry/NPO is how to keep interns accountable for coming to work, so that we can continue to help them. I cannot help them if they are unwilling to help themselves. This in itself is the most frustrating conundrum. I can teach them how to save money, invest it wisely, and serve society as a whole… I cannot force them to come to work. I can teach them job skills in multiple facets but I can’t make them come learn and do it. At what point do I walk away from them in this process? How much grace is too much grace? How do we teach to embrace the Puritans spirit? The only thing I know to do is pray and pray hard.

(1) Weber, M. (2013). Chapter 4, P. 51. In The Protestant Ethic and the spirit of capitalism. essay, CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform.


About the Author

Alana Hayes

Alana is a mother to four beautiful children and wife to a farmer in Texas. She is an avid world traveler with a heart for both the world and education. She is the president of the nonprofit Against the Grain Texas where they focus on providing education to children overseas and at risk adults in the states. To date the nonprofit has given almost $100,000 to individuals around the world. In her free time she loves spending meaningful time with people and reading to further her personal education.

2 responses to “How Do You Teach Others To Dig In?”

  1. Alana – Teaching responsibility is a difficult, but important life skill. I’ve worked with many interns and found the following to be critical to success. Perhaps this might help you: 1) Set simple, clear expectations and consequences for not meeting the expectations. I’ve found a weekly checklist is helpful using a tool like Monday where you can see when they check off their list 2) Provide timely feedback when expectations are met and not met 3) Ensure that the consequences are followed through on, i.e. if you don’t show up XX number of times, your internship is over. Your interns are lucky to have you as a mentor. I hope they realize that sooner rather than later!

  2. Alana, I agree with what Laura posted. Having clear consequences and following through with them at each step is important. If you all agree on these at the start of the internship and you uphold your end of the covenant you are actually teaching them responsibility through modeling and through holding them accountable. You are doing good and meaningful work.

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