The Root of Riches: Interview with Chuck Bentley, CEO of Crown Financial Ministries

Corey —  July 4, 2011

       On Wednesday, I had the pleasure of interviewing Chuck Bentley, the CEO of Crown Financial Ministries, about his upcoming book The Root of Riches: What If Everything You Think about Money Is Wrong?. The book will be released in the next week or so, but if you’d like to get a 20% discount you can go to and sign up to pre-order the book and get a free sample chapter.

       I had the chance to read the book before the interview and I highly recommend it to all of you. Chuck does a good job of getting to the heart of our issues with money by highlighting how being rooted in Christ is the only way to receive true riches. The interview below will give you a good overview of the central ideas in the book and help you determine if it’s something you’d want to read.

       I’ve included the audio here which you can listen to on the website or download for later. I’ve also transcribed the interview for those of you who prefer to read. I’d be interested in your feedback on how well you liked this because it’s the first time I’ve tried doing an interview/podcast. (I was quite pleased with how my intro and outro music turned out!) Feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments at the bottom of the page, and if you have any questions I’ll do my best to answer them.

Download the audio by right-clicking here and choosing “Save as…”.
Credits: intro and outro music for the audio is from “Bucolique Utopique” by David on Jamendo

Note: I was not paid anything to post this interview. I only agreed to it after reading the book because I believed Chuck’s message in The Root of Riches is excellent and needs to become more prominent in Christian personal finance.

[0:00] Introduction

[Intro Music]

Paul: Hi, everyone! This is Paul Williams from Provident Planning. Today, I’m interviewing Chuck Bentley, the CEO of Crown Financial Ministries, about his upcoming book The Root of Riches: What If Everything You Think about Money Is Wrong?, which will be released on July 11th or at least in early July. Thanks for joining me today, Chuck. It’s great to be talking with you!

Chuck: Well, it’s an honor to be with you, Paul, and thank you for your interest in The Root of Riches and for the opportunity to speak to your audience today.

[0:43] Purpose of the Book

Paul: Well, thank you. Let’s get right to the interview. Here’s my first question for you. What prompted you to write The Root of Riches? What did you see missing in the Christian finance literature that you felt this book could fill?

Chuck: Well, thank you for asking that because I think it’s very important to distinguish this work from other works in the marketplace. I find that most books written about finance, even in Christian finance, deal primarily with the how to’s, the practical application, the principles, and behavioral changes. What I thought was missing was a comprehensive overview of what the Bible says about money and finances from the standpoint of getting rich. It seems to be sort of the silent target for many people.

       And one of the areas of frustration for me was I bought into the world’s definition of getting rich. And what the study of Scripture changed in my life was not so much going from financial failure or hardship to financial success but it changed my heart. And I wanted to write about that transformation and to give a more comprehensive look at what the Bible really does say about getting rich.

Paul: Well, I would definitely agree with you. I think, like the book’s title The Root of Riches, getting to the root of our beliefs about money and how that affects our whole life – not just those financial principles that we apply, but just how we think about money and how we view it and our relationship to it – is really important especially when it comes to getting God’s view and following Christ.

Chuck: Yes, absolutely, Paul.

Paul: And I really appreciated that perspective in your book.

[2:33] Non-Negotiable No. 1

Paul: Alright, in The Root of Riches, you cover three non-negotiables that form the broad structure of the book. And I’d like to give the listeners an overview of what they can expect from the book by reviewing each of these non-negotiables. So Non-Negotiable No. 1 is “I accept that both the cause and the solution to my money problems lie within my own heart.” Tell us more about this non-negotiable. What do you mean by it? What does it encompass? Why is it important?

Chuck: Paul, I realized that the preponderance of the teaching in the Scripture about money deals with our heart. The word “love” is associated with verse after verse after verse when it comes to money. And it seems to me that we typically leave those out, we skip over them, we avoid them.

       And I’ll give you an example. Probably the most famous verse is 1 Timothy 6:10. And I talk about it a lot because that’s the verse that the Lord used to really take me back to review the meaning of it because I had assumed I understood it. I had known it for years and years and years, and I sort of skipped over it because it became too familiar.

       But it says that “the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil”. And I went back and looked at the verse and took a hard look at it, and the word that I had skipped was the word “root”. Why did Paul describe this problem as a root problem? And I began to study the characteristics of roots and just realized that primarily they’re pervasive, they give structure to the tree because that’s the foundation of the tree, and they’re also responsible for the fruit of that tree.

       And as I got into it I realized that if our roots are flawed, which they are when we’re born into this world, then we love the wrong things. And when our roots are transformed we love the right things. And I wanted to point out that when we love the correct things then we become rich on God’s terms. So the insight, the big ah-ha for me, was that getting rich according to God’s definition was not about owning things but it was about loving the right things.

       Solomon said it this way “whoever loves money never has enough money, whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with their wealth”. He identified this connection of our heart to our very practical circumstances. I found it amazing that we tend to skip over that. It says directly your financial problems are related to what you love.

       So if we will admit that, if we will say, “I’m struggling with a financial issue because of something that’s in my heart.” Then if my heart is changed then the solutions can also flow out of my heart. And that’s a non-negotiable truth in my opinion because if we don’t start there then we just get into the old patterns of just trying to change behavior and not deal with the real root.

Paul: Right, so when you say that this non-negotiable is stated “I accept that both the cause and the solution to my money problems lie within my own heart.” the cause is loving those wrong things and the solution is that transformation to have the heart of Christ and begin loving the right things.

Chuck: The Bible says that in the end times there will be terrible days, the people will be lovers of self, lovers of pleasure, and lovers of money. Paul identified (that’s 2 Timothy 3) the problem with our roots is that we’re in love with ourself, and pleasures, and money. They’re all interlinked.

       And when our heart is changed where we love God with all of our heart and soul and we love people and we love giving and we’re cheerful and excited about giving and serving others, then we experience the liberty that leads us to the correct beliefs and behaviors about money.

       And back to the first question, Paul, the reason I wrote this is because I didn’t see it emphasized in most teaching. The transformation of the heart is such a deep issue and a mysterious issue that I see why it’s easy to skip over it. But the Lord didn’t skip over it! And the reason I wanted to start there is to try to emphasize don’t move past the issue of your heart.

       The Lord weighs the motive of the heart. I think we can have good financial behaviors and still miss the true riches that the Lord promised. Jeremiah 17 talks about those who trust in themselves are blind to prosperity. And it’s because their hearts have not been changed to what true prosperity really means. So that’s the reason that’s the starting point, Paul.

Paul: So we can clarify. When you say the solution to the money problems you don’t mean that once we get our heart transformed we’re suddenly going to be rich and we’re not going to have to worry about our bills any more, right?

Chuck: Well, I think there’s a…no, I’m not…[laughter]…I’m agreeing with you, Paul. I don’t think that they magically go away. But I am attacking this premise that money solves financial problems. That’s the assumption that most people have and it’s where we get off base. If money solved financial problems, then the wealthy wouldn’t have any problems. Right?

Paul: Right.

Chuck: But I love what a friend told me years ago that God gives every one of us a problem that money can’t solve. And that’s because He wants us to recognize that we need Him more than we need money. And that’s a heart issue. That gets to the real issue of where you place your confidence, where your security, where your significance comes from. How do we define success? Those are issues in the heart. And when we get that straight then we’re ready to go to the next step and start to see our financial problems solved once our hearts have been changed.

Paul: Right. That’s what I like about this non-negotiable. It’s coming to that realization that the solution to your money problems isn’t necessarily money but getting to that point that Christ becomes everything to you. So even if you still have money problems after you get this right view of money and start loving the right things, they’re not going to seem like as big of a problem because you’re keeping your eternal riches in mind. You’re looking at the treasure in heaven that you have stored up. And suddenly, as Paul puts it, the afflictions that we’re experiencing now can’t even compare to our future glory. {Romans 8:18} So that’s what I like about it.

Chuck: Well, Paul, let’s flip it over and look at the other side of the coin. Suppose you’re the rich young ruler. You probably have a pretty good financial situation. I believe he was probably debt free, lived on a budget or at least had plenty of money to cover his needs, maybe had a good savings plan, a good diversified investment portfolio, and a long term plan and strategy to do whatever it was he felt led to do.

       But he had a heart problem. And his heart problem was he was struggling to let go of all of those things to follow Christ and to make Christ preeminent in his life. And the Lord knew that and challenged him on that issue of the heart. And if you apply this to the person like that you see why I say it’s a non-negotiable.

       When I was in China recently, I wasn’t talking to a population of people with debt problems because they haven’t really learned to acquire debt in their culture and they have an average personal savings rate of around 50%. So what would I take to them from the Scripture if it were simply to change their financial behaviors? What they were looking for was what does the Bible say about their attitudes, their beliefs, their affections when it comes to money and possessions. And that’s why I think it’s so important, as you agreed, that we cannot skip over this step.

Paul: Right.

[11:16] Non-Negotiable No. 2

Paul: Alright, let’s go on to Non-Negotiable No. 2 which is “I must align my beliefs with God’s Word to produce behaviors that will make me truly rich.” Tell us more about that.

Chuck: Here’s where I started to get into the real meat of the matter. As you said, after my heart has changed how do I actually start to see financial problems solved as a result of that. The Bible makes it clear that we’re to experience a transformation of our heart, a transfer of our affections to loving the wrong things to loving the right things, and then having our mind renewed that we’re changed not by our learned behaviors but we’re changed by our faith. We’re changed by what we believe.

       Colossians says we can be taken captive by hollow, deceptive philosophies that depend on the tradition of man. And what I see is many people are captive to their philosophies of this world. They’ve been taken hostage by their wrong beliefs. So if you align your belief system with God’s Word, then your behaviors change as a natural outflow to produce the good fruit that the Lord expects of us.

       If you simply tell a person, “Go behave like a good Christian. Go behave like a good Christian should with your money. Go start giving. Go start doing all of the financial practices that will improve your finances.” I think some of that works. I think you can teach behavioralism. But until you get to the belief system it’s not going to be transformative. It’s not going to be consistent with what God expects of us.

       You know we must align our beliefs with God’s Word – not the wisdom of the world. And I found in my own testimony that I share in the book that I was really aligned with what the world’s philosophy said. I knew the Scripture but I never aligned what I believed about money with the Scripture. It was a foreign concept to me. And that was getting down to the root of the issue. Do I believe God’s Word and am I willing to forgo what the world has taught me and to believe what God said?

       I’ll give you a great example of that. My behavior did not change when it came to the area of giving until my beliefs changed. And once I began to believe that what the Lord said was true – that it is more blessed to give than to receive – I actually became a cheerful giver once I believed that. I could not become a cheerful giver until I really believed that was true. I may have changed my behaviors but it wouldn’t have brought joy to my life until my beliefs were changed and aligned with God’s Word.

Paul: Right. Yeah, I’ve talked several times on my blog about that. When I discuss giving, I tend to focus more on what I call New Covenant giving. Which is, like you said, cheerful, generous, and a joyful kind of giving and often sacrificial. But that – you can’t really teach that. You can’t give somebody a standard and say, “Give this much and you’ll be meeting your obligation.” That kind of giving (New Covenant giving) requires that we have God’s love living in us.

       And then once that’s true, once that’s happening – like you said, that’s aligning your beliefs with God’s Word – then the behaviors of generous giving are going to naturally flow out of that. It’ll become a part of your life because that’s the way you think all the time. You don’t have to push yourself to do it. It’s just a natural part of your character at that point because you’re gaining the character of Christ.

Chuck: You know, you’re so right, Paul. We are controlled by our belief system. If that weren’t true, then we couldn’t be taken captive by hollow and deceptive philosophies of this world. But what we believe controls us. If I believe I should put gasoline in my car to make it operate, I’ll do that. If someone told me, “Hey, you can fill it up with water and it’ll work just as well for a lot less.” and I believe that, I would act upon it. Now in that case it would have been a lie that I believed and I would be suffering the consequences of it.

       But what the Lord wants us to do is to act out of faith. And that faith comes from when we really believe Him. And that verse about that it’s better to give than to receive is so foreign to us. It was foreign to me. I wrestled with that one. I thought, “Is that true? Is that real?” You know the Lord is saying it’s better for you if you’re a giver instead of an acquirer or accumulator. And, Paul, I just didn’t really believe that.

       And that’s why it was non-negotiable in the journey that I experienced that I came to say, “Unless I really believe it, then my behaviors will never be consistent with what God expects.” I may be operating with religious piety, but inside I’m still eaten up with greed which needed to be dealt with.

Paul: Yeah, exactly. And I think that this is probably, of the three non-negotiables, the most challenging because it can take so long to get to the point where we can see where our beliefs are not lining up with God’s Word. Our hearts are so deceptive that we just assume that what we would naturally believe is true. And I think it’s very hard to start challenging that and even to be open – have our eyes open – to where we need to challenge ourselves on that.

       And I think that’s where prayer and studying God’s Word and just having that passion for pursuing God’s ways – His Kingdom and His righteousness first – is the only way that you’re going to open your eyes to have that revelation of God saying, “Look, Paul, or look, Chuck, here is an area where you still need to be transformed. You still have a belief that is from the world and not from God.”

Chuck: You know, Paul, the way you expressed that is the way a wise man learns. I know that you’re much younger than I am and you’ve exhibited that same kind of wisdom where you, through study and prayer, come to learn where you are not aligned with God’s Word. I was not that wise. I learned the way of the fool, which was through pain. I did it my way only to discover I was wrong.

       And that’s where the subtitle came from that I woke up one day in a new world and said, “Everything I believe about money is upside down. I am absolutely conformed to the image of the world while professing faith in Christ but I really don’t believe the Bible.” And everything I believed was wrong because (A) I didn’t know the Word and (B) I wasn’t willing to apply the Word to my life.

Paul: Right. I want to be respectful of your time. We have five minutes left so I’ll move on to the next one.

[19:05] Non-Negotiable No. 3

Paul: Non-Negotiable No. 3 is “I must act upon and apply spiritual truth in order to receive true riches.” Explain that one to us in more detail.

Chuck: Well, John 13:17 says, “Now that you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.” And the Scripture is a book of faith. We experience the blessings of God when we act upon them. It’s a sequence where our hearts are transformed, our affections are transferred to loving the right things, our mind is renewed so that we know the truth.

       And then the third step is to put it into action – to step out by faith and say, “Lord, I not only believe it I’m willing to do it. If you say it’s better to give than to receive, I will become a giver. Because You’re a giver, I’ll be a giver as well and I will begin to do that. Because You say it’s wise for me to save, I will save. Because You say that it is wise to avoid debt and to get out of debt, I will do that because I want to be obedient to You out of my love for You and I will act upon it.”

       And when that happens it’s amazing how quickly everything in your life changes. Because I went from being completely opposite of what God wanted for my life to falling in love with the Lord, immersing myself in the Scripture, committing myself to put it into action and to live it out – not just to be a hearer of the Word but a doer – and everything in my life was transformed. Everything, including my finances. But the finances – that was not the original goal – the financial transformation.

       And that’s where I’m trying to shift our emphasis. The overarching idea is to shift our emphasis from looking at the Bible as a self-help book to get my finances in order to a book that is much more comprehensive to get my entire life ordered around God’s purposes. And if we can do that and our riches are determined by God’s Word and not by man’s philosophy, then I say we will become eternally rich, we’ll experience freedom from the financial pain we’re in now, and we will have this confidence that no matter what happens on Earth that we will have treasures in Heaven. So to me it’s the ultimate win-win-win if we will put these things into practice.

Paul: Right. And you give some great stories in this section of the book. You talk about Oswald Chambers, and William Borden, and Samuel – you’ll have to pronounce his last name for me I don’t know that I would…

Chuck: It’s pronounced Zwemer (zwhim-er, like swimmer but with a ‘z’). A very difficult name…

Paul: Yeah, so those are examples of men who really took God’s Word to heart and followed it at great cost to themselves. Just really good examples of what it means to apply that spiritual truth and receive true riches.

Chuck: Well, they inspired me and I do hope that they inspire readers, Paul. Thank you for referencing that. I have certain heroes in my life that I’ve never met, and I wanted to honor them and let people know those examples that have inspired me to radically conform my life to God’s Word versus the world. And I believe those are examples I want to be more like.

Paul: And just so readers know – er, listeners know – that this book isn’t all philosophical, there is a chapter in this section that goes over the practices of what you call the He Tree. We haven’t talked about the He Tree and the Me Tree much, but that’s a big theme in the book. But this is the financial practices of those that have been transformed and are applying those spiritual truths.

Chuck: Thank you for mentioning that because I do believe it’s a very important section where I give some practical tips and insights of how to apply the truth in this book in a way that will make a difference in your finances. I’ve had the opportunity to teach this a few times in different settings around the world, and I gave sort of a condensed version of what I think will make the most difference in people’s lives if they will actually apply those things.

Paul: Yeah, it is very condensed but I think – like we’ve been talking about the whole time – if you get that transformation in place, you’ll naturally start to follow those behaviors that come from the truth in Scripture.

[23:50] Main Lesson of the Book

Paul: Alright, Chuck – last question. I know I’m pushing the time here but this will be a quick one. What is the one lesson you hope readers take from The Root of Riches? What is it that you most want them to remember after finishing this book?

Chuck: That riches are determined by what we love not by what we own. If the readers will take that to heart and recognize that God’s Word shouts that from beginning to end, then I think that they will be blessed by that discovery. And if they will put that truth into action into their life, they will experience God’s riches beyond measure. I do hope and pray that’s what happens, Paul.

Paul: Alright, I like that. Riches are determined by what we love not by what we own. Right?

Chuck: Absolutely.

Paul: OK.

[24:39] Conclusion

Paul: Well, thank you, Chuck, for taking the time to talk with me today. And thank you all for listening. If you’d like to learn more about Chuck’s new book, The Root of Riches, you can find more at The book will be released in early July, but you can sign up now to pre-order a copy and save 20%. Thanks again, Chuck, and have a great day!

Chuck: Well, Paul, thank you for what you’re doing at Provident Planning and for your interest in this book. I pray God’s blessings on you and your work.

Paul: Thank you.

[Outro Music]

[25:20] End



Corey is currently pursuing a Master of Arts degree in religion. While he enjoys learning and writing about Christianity, another one of his new passions is writing about personal finances in order to help others make wise decisions with their money.

3 responses to The Root of Riches: Interview with Chuck Bentley, CEO of Crown Financial Ministries

  1. Paul, thank you so much for the interview…it turned out GREAT!!!!!

  2. You’re welcome! Thanks for the opportunity to talk with Chuck about the book. I really enjoyed our conversation and am looking forward to the impact this book will have on the Christian mindset toward riches.

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  1. Giving a Book for Christmas? - December 15, 2011

    […] focus from a bunch of financial fix-it steps to the core principles of the Bible.  I also had a great interview with Chuck that people can check out if they want to get a better idea of what the book is about.”- […]