“How is religion related to entrepreneurial behavior?”
Focusing specifically on American entrepreneurs, researchers Mitchell J. Neubert and Kevin Dougherty found that although entrepreneurs “appear no different than nonentrepreneurs in religious affiliation, belief in God, or religious service attendance,” they do “tend to see God as more personal, pray more frequently, and are more likely to attend a place of worship that encourages business activity.”
Baylor recently posted some interviews with the researchers to get their thoughts first-hand (HT). Dougherty, an associate professor of sociology, emphasizes that in a time of economic recovery, we should pay close attention to any area that might impact those looking to start a business:
We’re at a particularly important time for the promotion of entrepreneurship, coming out of a recession, not just in our country, but globally, so if there’s a time period where we need people engaging in new business creation, now is the time, and if religion has something to do with that, it’s important to know what that is and how that occurs.
Neubert, an associate professor of business and entrepreneurship, notes that although this particular study doesn’t get into why entrepreneurs pray more or what exactly they pray about, he hopes that future research will examine these areas more fully.
In the meantime, he has some hunches:
What are these entrepreneurs praying about? Entrepreneurs certainly face different circumstances than those of us who work full-time in the work world, so entrepreneurs could be praying — and this is speculation again — for more energy…The entrepreneur is probably more tired and weary than some of us, so they might be praying for energy or strength to get through the day. But I also think entrepreneurs are probably also praying about their decisions, because the entrepreneurial environment is one of uncertainty. They’re making decisions about where to invest their time and energy and their capital, and these are decisions that might threaten their livelihood or allow them to prosper. So I think entrepreneurs are probably contemplating those decisions and praying to a God to ask for wisdom in those decisions.
I, too, hope this question continues to be examined. For the many entrepreneurs I know personally, intimate fellowship with God is more often than not a core component of their journey. It’s certainly the case for Neighborhood Film Company, whose story we shared recently.
The risk and financial challenges that entrepreneurs face will inevitably lead to a recognition of one’s limitations. For Christians in particular, such a process will press us toward relying on God more consciously and intentionally — whether through prayer, fellowship and counsel among the church, being more conscious of things like tithing, etc. All of this should be in motion already, of course, but it wouldn’t surprise me if a lifestyle of taking huge, highly tangible steps of faith corresponds with a more intensive spiritual life.
I would be curious, then, to gather some anecdotal evidence: to hear from any entrepreneurs who might be reading this. What does your prayer life look like on a daily basis? What are the things that you, as business owners, find yourselves talking to God about on a routine basis? What breakthroughs have you had in your spiritual life that have come as a result of owning a business?
I’d love to read your answers in the comments section below.
Our Souls at Work is built around twelve themes (chapter titles): calling, leadership, character, success, money, stewardship, balance, disciplines, relationships, pluralism, ethics and giving.