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

What Spirit Are You Led By?

Written by: on February 15, 2019

In the social sciences field, similar to Karl Polanyni’s, The Great Transformation: The Political and Economic Origins of Our Time, Max Weber’s, The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism, is considered a seminal work and “still remains one of the most influential and widely read works in social science”.[1] Weber using both empirical research and theoretical musings lays out the argument of the relationship between ascetic Protestantism and the spirit of modern capitalism.

The book itself has an introduction and five chapters. The first three chapters make up what Weber calls “The Problem.” The first chapter addresses “Religious Affiliation and Social Stratification,” the second “The Spirit of Capitalism,” and the third “Luther’s Conception of the Calling and the Task of the Investigation.” The fourth and fifth chapters make up “The Practical Ethics of the Ascetic Branches of Protestantism.” The fourth chapter is about “The Religious Foundations of Worldly Asceticism,” and the fifth chapter is about “Asceticism and the Spirit of Capitalism.

On the surface, Polanyni and Weber seem to disagree on “what” brought about this new way of framing life called capitalism. While tracing the historical roots of the modern day economic system known as the free market, Polanyni sets out to discover the trends within human institutions that enabled the self-regulating free market system to come into existence.[2] His thesis is, “the idea of a self-adjusting market implied a stark utopia”[3] created by economic liberalism through the creation of false commodities of land, labor, and money, which in turn created a system outside of societal control which was the norm. Weber, on the other hand, focuses on the spiritual leverage (theology doctrines) of ascetic Protestantism, particular Calvinism, that produced the framework of calling and signs of salvation which fed into the spirit of capitalism.[4] Where the two intersect is at the point of profit, both see that the idea of profit as the driving force in the ethos of this economic shift away from relational equity.[5]

Gary Vee

As I continue to explore relational leadership, it is interesting to see how money continues to play a significant role in defining who culture demands as successful or in the church world as anointed by God. Looking at the business market, Millennials have been deemed the entrepreneur generation[6] moreover, with the boom of the internet and social media, voices such as Gary Vee[7] are their modern day prophets. In the church world, the influence of the Prosperity Gospel and the notions of God’s blessing (in particularly material items)[8] while being condemned still, have mass influence.  What does this have to do with relational leadership, it all seems to revolve around the displacement in the understanding of personhood.

Disneyland, not Disney World

Personhood from a biblical perspective is understood “within the context of a life lived in relationship with God, in community with others and as part of creation.”[9] When we lose our true self or personhood by uplifting profit or capitalism above God, the other or creation, everything including leadership becomes a commodity. David Lyon in his book Jesus in Disneyland notes, “is in the commodification of everyday life and the impact of mass consumer cultures, facilitated by the CITs, that the impacts on faith and practice are felt most deeply.[10] As leaders, we must begin to deregulate the spirit of capitalism and submit back to the Spirit of God as we live for calling and not via commodification.


[1] Gorski, Philip S. Social Forces 82, no. 2 (2003): 833. http://www.jstor.org.georgefox.idm.oclc.org/stable/3598212.

[2] Karl Polanyi, Great Transformation: The Political and Economic Origins of Our Time, (Boston: Beacon Press, 2001), Accessed January 22, 2019, ProQuest Ebook Central, 4.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Weber, Max. Protestantische Ethik und der Geist des Kapitalismus. Florence: Routledge, 2001. Accessed February 13, 2019. ProQuest Ebook Central. 108-125.

[5] Karl Polanyi, Great Transformation: The Political and Economic Origins of Our Time, 45-58. See also, Weber, Protestantische Ethik und der Geist des Kapitalismus, 2.

[6] Asghar, Rob. “Study: Millennials Are The True Entrepreneur Generation.” Forbes. Last modified November 12, 2014. https://www.forbes.com/sites/robasghar/2014/11/11/study-millennials-are-the-true-entrepreneur-generation/#530757ab73dc.

[7] https://www.garyvaynerchuk.com/

[8] “Prosperity Theology.” Wikipedia. Last modified January 30, 2019. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prosperity_theology.

[9] M. Robert Mulholland Jr., The Deeper Journey: The Spirituality of Discovering Your True Self (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2006). See chapters 2 footnote 1.

[10] Lyon, David. Jesus in Disneyland. Wiley. Kindle Edition. Location 148.

About the Author

Mario Hood

Most importantly, I am married to the love of my life, Misty Hood, and I'm kept on my toes all day every day, by my son Dalen and daughter Cola Hood. I also serve as the Next Generation Pastor at Church On The Living Edge in Orlando, Florida, under the leadership of Senior Pastor, Dr. Mark Chironna as well as being a Youth and Family Life coach.

8 responses to “What Spirit Are You Led By?”

  1. Digby Wilkinson says:

    Very plausible reflections, Mario. And well written too. I do think that the reflections of Weber and Polanyi were a good assessment of cause and effect on economic philosophy. But personally, I think what they offer is little more than slices of a much wider truth, and that is, human societies are merely complex relationships, even when they are small. Human personalities and the associated disorders that come with them all have a part to play in the unfolding development of human institutions and history. Luther, Calvin, Arminius, Zwingli, et al, were all constructs of their time – they were created by forces outside their control, so in some sense they were reactive and not creative. That being the ‘possible’ case, the consequences of their own actions were evolutionary. I wonder if Calvin would be happy the evolutionary Calvinism that flourished in his name. Or whether Luther would be content with the long term outcomes of the reformation. Understanding the branches of our past assists our leadership in the present because we learn just how convoluted religious leadership truly is, but in all cases, we are responsive to the settings we don’t create, thus our present leadership is only an extension of what we perceive and choose to learn; more of the latter usually helps in critiquing the former.

    • Mario Hood says:

      I always wonder what legendary leaders would say if they were to come back and see how the people have used their work in today’s culture. I also wonder what people will say of us when they look back 100 years from now. I agree that the readings only paint one slice of the pie and there are probably many slices, causes, and effects, I was just fascinated how something meant to be a sign of God blessings (even if wrong thinking was involved) evolved into a totally different outcome.

  2. Mario, you have aptly highlighted the need to be cautious as leaders not to ‘commoditize’ our lives but go back to being led of The Spirit of God. This is indeed a big issue for us as leaders to be aware of and to steer away from. The prosperity Gospel is a case in point where material prosperity takes the fore and leaders misleading innocent and gullible followers.

  3. Harry Fritzenschaft says:

    Mario, “As leaders, we must begin to deregulate the spirit of capitalism and submit back to the Spirit of God as we live for calling and not via commodification.” How does your research in relational leadership help leaders get back to this?

    • Mario Hood says:

      Good question. At this point going back an understanding the theology of personhood. When we see people as unique and valuable and not an ends to a means we can break the spirit of capitalism. This can only happen when we submit to the Spirit and are led by the Spirit.

  4. Mary Mims says:

    Mario, the person-hood aspect you touched on is interesting in that I do believe when people get caught up in materialism, they forget who they are and even some of the people and things they once loved. How many have lost their families in the pursuit of wealth? We would do well, as you say, to submit to God’s true calling.

  5. Rev Jacob Bolton says:

    Mario, your last sentence nailed it. One of the greatest gifts we have as people of faith is that we place non-monetary value on things that most quantify with money. To some a “sacred glen” is priceless . . . there is a mystery, a sense of awe in that place. However, to someone else the “sacred glen” is merely an acre of harvestable timber, worth however much the market rate says it is. Thanks Mario!

Leave a Reply