Chuck Bentley Interview: Finding “The Root of Riches”

What if everything you think about money is wrong?  Chuck Bentley, CEO of Crown Financial Ministries, is getting ready to release a new book: The Root of Riches:  What if everything you think about money is wrong?  I had the honor of sitting down with Chuck to discuss his heart, purpose, and hopes for his new book.

The title lures you in (because after all, who would want to be wrong when it comes to money!?!), but the honesty with which Chuck writes keeps you turning pages.  In the hectic, dog eat dog, loudest voice wins world of finance, Chuck Bentley humbly integrates his own personal journey in a conversational and convicting challenge of our cultural norms.

Dollars and Doctrine: The first thing I noticed about the book was your authenticity.  Overall, the book had a very personal touch—convicting rather than condemning.  Any comments as to why you approached the book in this manner?

Chuck Bentley: To be honest, it is very much a reflection of my life.  I felt like I had fallen prey to the world’s definitions of being rich.  And, I think there are many who fall into the same trap—even among Christians.  It is something I believe many people struggle with, though at times we hide it.  And, because it is something we prefer to keep hidden, I knew I had to be vulnerable and share my own shortcomings and mistakes so people could identify with it.  If I could show my own struggles, then perhaps people could benefit from my transparency.  I think people relate to failure more than success.  So, I had to share enough of my own story to make that connection.

Dollars and Doctrine: What led you to write this book?

Chuck Bentley: It all started with an experience around  I Timothy 6:10  [“For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.” (NIV)].  It’s a familiar verse.  I knew it, thought I understood it, and had sort of moved on…and then one day God arrested my attention with it.  It’s magnitude and implications and relevance literally came alive to me.  I asked myself:  “Why is this verse so fresh and relevant?”  Why does this verse jump off the page?  Then it hit me, this is our culture.  That is why this verse comes alive.

But another thing, and what got me going on this book, was the word “root”.  Why did Paul call this problem a root?  If the love of money is a root that springs up all kinds of evil, what root should we be planting?  It led me to think that the root of all kinds of good is to love God and pursue His riches, true riches.

Dollars and Doctrine: Biblically speaking, how would you define rich?

Chuck Bentley: Being rich is related to what we love not what we own.  Biblically, I think it is to obey the greatest commandments—to love God and love others.  And, the reason that we are commanded to live this way is to steer us towards God.  Thinking this way inverted my whole paradigm.  I feel like I am now experiencing true riches.  It is an exciting journey.  Not legalistic bondage and empty obedience…but an exciting journey of pursuing God’s true riches.  You know, the Word tells us that money is a competitor with our desire to obey and follow God, and I can certainly say that is real in my own life experiences.  Changing my paradigm has freed me to find true riches.

Dollars and Doctrine: Looking back at the subtitle [What if everything you think about money is wrong], what do we think wrongly about money?

Chuck Bentley: That subtitle defines my experience.  I had so little biblical knowledge and understanding.  How were all these biblical truths seemingly hidden from me?  When I realized that my worldview was not biblical I realized everything I had grown up thinking about money was wrong.  The closest analogy I can think of is the Chronicles of Narnia.  The wardrobe opens up to Narnia and Aslan.  The wardrobe is a lot like the Bible.  It opens up to an entirely different world.  So much of my life, even though I was a Christian, was spent on the other side of the wardrobe.  Everything I had learned was the world’s wisdom.  A blend of self-help and my own personal philosophies that had no biblical context.  So, going back to that question [What if everything you think about money is wrong], it can really be any philosophy—big ones or small ones.  The question is a challenge to drive people to compare their beliefs with the Bible.

Dollars and Doctrine: In the book, you share how early in life your formula for success (though secret) was:  “Jesus + Lots of Money = Happiness”.  How has God transformed your formula?

Chuck Bentley: Transformation is the mystery of the heart.  My original formula was my plan for making my life good on my own terms—going back to my blended philosophies.  But, in the end, my self-worth was really defined in worldly terms.  The way that God transformed my formula was that I had to die to the world and die to my hidden equation.  That changed everything.  This is the root of the book—transformation of the heart.  This is how the Bible approaches the topic of money, by transforming the heart and renewing the mind.  Everything points to this.

Dollars and Doctrine: What did you learn in the process that you didn’t set out to write?

Chuck Bentley: Ha! A lot of things!  I would say that I learned that God compares us to trees.  It’s a theme that runs through the entire Bible, and He compares Himself to a tree.  It is something I had never noticed before, but it is all through the Bible.  The book is built around this notion—of roots and fruits, pruning, harvesting—attacking the bad roots, experiencing transformation of our inner man to yield good fruit.

The Root of Riches is scheduled to release in July.  You can read more about it (including a pre-release free download of chapter 1) here.  I would highly recommend it to anyone willing to challenge themselves to, as Chuck said, “ compare their beliefs with the Bible.”  It’s a must read for Dollars and Doctrine readers.  And again, I’d like to thank Chuck Bentley and Crown Financial for their collaboration with dollarsanddoctrine.com.

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