Post image for Interview: Chuck Bentley, CEO of Crown Financial Ministries

Interview: Chuck Bentley, CEO of Crown Financial Ministries

by Jason on June 23, 2011

Recently I had the chance to chat with Chuck Bentley, the CEO of Crown Financial Ministries, and host of the MoneyLife radio program.

Chuck is a great guy, with a passion for seeing others master their money under the Master’s guidance as you’ll see from my interview below:

Jason: How did you get your start at Crown Financial Ministries? What were some of the circumstances that led you to get involved in Christian personal finance?

Chuck: First, thanks for the interview Jason!  I got involved in a Crown Bible Study through my church. At that time I was an “Internet millionaire” on paper, before the public offering of stock for the company I founded. I was very busy and preoccupied with getting rich. My wife would call that an understatement!  The Bible study caused me to begin reading God’s Word, which radically impacted my life. From there I became a local volunteer for Crown and joined the staff in August 2000.  I was particularly drawn to Crown because of the connection between daily, personal financial decisions and my spiritual growth. The more I applied God’s principles, the more I grew to love Him. I wanted to share this experience with everyone I met!

Jason: Your new book is called The Root of Riches; can you give us an idea of what readers can look forward to when the book comes out? 

Chuck:  My goal in writing the book is to take the readers to a deeper level than transformation of their finances. Anyone can help you get your finances in order, but only God can transform your life.  I think we are drifting towards “Christian humanism” when it comes to financial teaching and have neglected the importance of guarding our minds. By making the connection between our beliefs and our behaviors, I share how the reader can learn and apply God’s truth to their financial decisions and become rich on God’s terms.

Jason: What inspired you to write about this topic at this time?  Why do you think this message is so important in today’s culture?

Chuck: I have made just about every financial mistake and sought solutions in all the wrong places. As painful as that was, I came to recognize that my biggest mistake was my private conviction that more money was always the solution to my financial problems. This desire to always have more essentially controlled my life. Breaking free of that was so difficult, yet life transforming. This life lesson inspired me to be transparent about my mistakes but also share the non-negotiable lessons of doing it right.

My hope is that this message is helpful to anyone who wants to become truly rich. In a world that continues to position money as the ultimate metric of success, I believe many will find great joy in shifting their focus away from pursuing the world’s riches and finding hope in God’s riches. 

Jason: What do you think could happen if Christians in America began to learn and apply solid biblical truth about money to their lives?

Chuck: Revival on the spiritual, emotional and economic levels! Church attendance would skyrocket because people will have their treasures invested there. Missions would flourish here and abroad. Evangelism would increase through the infectious joy that believers would be sharing in their homes, neighborhoods and communities. Prescription drugs for stress and emotional challenges would decrease. Relationships would improve across the board, including business partnerships, marriages and between parents and children. The economy would improve dramatically because people would have far greater financial stability and capacity. I don’t think that’s an exaggeration. I would love to see us give it a try in America or anywhere else! 

Jason: I love the infographic at rootofriches.org.  I noticed one of the pictures says, “Correct beliefs will produce the behaviors that make you truly rich.” I don’t know about you Chuck, but unfortunately even though I know what’s right, I don’t always do what’s right. Can you explain what you mean?  How do we truly overcome our negative money habits?

Chuck: In the book I make the case that we are controlled by our beliefs. The distinction is that while we may know what to do, unless we truly believe it, we will not put that belief into action. Example – If I told you that tomorrow you could reduce your gasoline costs by $3.50/gallon by adding a quart of water and a tablespoon of sugar to your gas tank each day, would you do it?  Of course not! But suppose I tell you that you can reduce your vehicle operating  costs by keeping your tires properly inflated. That one is true, but most people don’t take it seriously. Professional truck drivers take it seriously, though. They believe it and act upon it because they know it makes a difference. Negative money habits can be traced to the root issue of our false beliefs. Once those are corrected with biblical truth that we genuinely believe, we will put that truth into action.  A practical example is debt. The Bible warns us that it leads to slavery. Many people may know that, but only those who really believe it will avoid going into debt.

Jason: We know that Jesus spoke often about money in His teachings. Why do you think that is?

Chuck: Jesus spoke often about money because it is so dangerous. It is an issue related to our hearts and one we hide or keep silent about. I like to say, “Get the heart of the man and you have the entire man….If you don’t get the heart, you have little else.” It’s important to understand that becoming rich is related more to what we love than what we own; otherwise, we spend our lives trading our affection to gain nothing but money and by the way, money does not love you. God wants us to love Him and avoid being deceived by His chief competitor….gold, silver and paper with numbers printed on it in colored ink.

Jason: Do you think church leaders today need to speak up more about this critical topic?

Chuck: Yes! I think God’s perspective of money needs to be talked about in direct proportion to the percentage of verses it’s given in the Bible. That’s beyond the comfort level of most pastors and it’s one of the reasons Crown is a friend to the Church; we help get this critical work accomplished outside the pulpit.

Jason: Are there practical pieces of financial advice in The Root of Riches, or is your primary aim to focus on exposing the root issue of money problems? What one piece of advice would you give others looking to gain control of their money?

Chuck: I wrote an entire chapter called, Financial Practices of the He Tree. I share some very practical advice and tips on managing your finances. The chapter starts with this great quote by Charles Dickens,

 Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure nineteen and six, result happiness.

Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure twenty pounds ought and six, result misery.

Once our hearts are transformed and our minds renewed, we must act upon God’s advice to live on less than we earn. That is the quickest method to gain control of our finances, reduce stress, increase our joy and become prepared for God to fully use us. For those that struggle with making this a reality, I give some practical tips and helpful advice.

Jason: What one or two important lessons has God taught you through the writing of this book?

Chuck: First, God compares each of us to a tree and He expects us to live in such a way that His fruit (not ours) is produced in abundance. When we die, that is the essentially the only metric that will matter. That was sobering because I can’t produce good fruit through self-effort. I must have my roots transformed for this to occur, roots meaning my heart and mind.

Next, I learned that money can become a stronghold. Satan takes people captive by their false beliefs about money. When we experience riches on God’s terms, we break the stronghold of financial bondage and encounter success, significance and security on God’s terms, not man’s.

Finally, I learned that writing takes a lot of time! Because I invested so much time writing the book, I’m praying that the Lord will be pleased to multiply the book’s impact exponentially!

Thanks for having me Jason. Great to meet you and I appreciate your blog. Keep up the good work!

Jason: Thanks Chuck, it was a pleasure meeting you!

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