In God's company - Christian giants of business
Peter Lupson, the author of Thank God for Football! about the church origins of famous English football clubs, tells us about his new book In God's Company - Christian giants of business
In God's Company tells the stories of seven Christians who started world-famous companies – William Colgate, Thomas Cook, Henry Crowell (Quaker Oats), William Hartley, Henry Heinz, James Kraft and Anthony Rossi (Tropicana). Four of them – Colgate, Cook, Kraft and Rossi – were Baptists.
I wrote the book at my son, Mike's, prompting. On setting up his own business a few years ago he found it draining to face the daily moral challenges that business presented, yet he never sacrificed his Christian principles in order to make a profit. To show he was not alone, I downloaded information for him about George Cadbury and Joseph Rowntree. He was so inspired by the character and business practice of these great Christian men that he urged me to write a book about Christian entrepreneurs to encourage others. In God's Company is the result.
In the course of my research it became clear that all seven entrepreneurs I studied saw their business as service to God. A contemporary of William Colgate wrote:
“His business was prosecuted as God's business. Few men have so perfectly learned the secret of 'worship in work'”
In a very real sense, then, they worked In God's Company not their own.
And their business practice reflected this. The words written about Henry Heinz by his secretary could have been written about any of them:
“He showed that the belief that business demanded ruthlessness and the cutting of moral corners was a superstition as foolish as it was evil. He built a business that proved it.”
To give readers a fuller flavour of what to expect in the book, I thought they might like to read the Introduction. It follows below:
“Business is business!” In the fierce white heat of competition, this statement declares that personal feelings or moral considerations can be suspended in the pursuit of profit. As in love and war, “All's fair” in business. Or is it?
Not according to the seven giants of business who are the subjects of this book. Each of them – world leaders in their field – built empires worth billions but did so with absolute integrity, caring about the quality of their products, service to their customers and the treatment of their employees. There were no shady dealings.
But they didn't have it easy. On their way to staggering success they endured scepticism and ridicule, bitter opposition and, in some cases, terrible personal tragedy. They all suffered severe financial reverses and some even knew the stigma of bankruptcy. Yet, despite devastating setbacks, the word “impossible” never featured in their vocabulary. Nor did they resort to moral short-cuts to achieve their aims, not even in the worst of times.
What was the secret of their success? These brilliant businessmen publicly acknowledged that they drew the courage, strength and wisdom to turn difficulties into opportunities and disasters into triumphs from their personal relationship with Jesus Christ. In response to their prayers, they knew He would guide them in all their decision-making, in good times and in bad.
All of us, whether in business or not, can identify with some of the pressures these men endured and the pain they suffered. But this is a book about triumph. Its purpose is to let them show us, through the lives they lived and the things they said, how Christ inspired and sustained them. For, as one of them wrote: “This is the secret of all true success; the consecration of ourselves to Him who loved us and laid down His life for us.”
In God's Company is available from Day One Publications (website www.dayone.co.uk; firstname.lastname@example.org; 01568 613 740). Two of the chapters – Thomas Cook and William Hartley – are also available as free-standing illustrated colour booklets and as DVDs
Peter Lupson is a former schoolteacher who has also worked in publishing. For many years he was Chief Examiner for GCE Advanced Level German for the University of Oxford. He is the author of a number of successful school and university German and French text books as well as the widely acclaimed Thank God for Football! about the church origins of famous football clubs