Monday, June 2, 2008

Q&A with Bible Money Matters Blog

Last week I was asked by the Bible Money Matters blog to do an e-mail interview. Below are the answers to the questions I was asked.

Question: What prompted you to write this book?

This book had its beginning in 1999 when I was working for a private Christian university. I had recently finished my first book on Christ-centered leadership and was working on a book discussing the grace of Christ. During this time, I was introduced to a multimillionaire who had recently moved into the area. We soon became friends and he asked if I would help him write a book on the steps to achieving financial freedom. My first reaction was that pursuing such a topic was worldly and could put my spirituality in jeopardy. I held the widely believed myth that “Money is Bad” (myth 23 of the book) and that being rich did not align with the gospel of Christ. After much thought, prayer, and spending countless hours with my friend, I realized I had many misconceptions about money and determined to add financial principles to my research, study, and writing.

Since that time, I have read hundreds of books on financial topics. I was concerned to find that many of the so-called success and financial books had no reference to God. I believe that trying to teach someone how to succeed without God is like trying to teach someone to swim in an empty pool. I discovered that the truly prosperous have learned to include God in all their actions, even those involving money. In the eyes of God, the world is not compartmentalized into temporal and spiritual, for all things (even money) are spiritual to Him.

Question: What would you say to those who dismiss your book as simply another book capitalizing on the "prosperity gospel" that has been so popular in some of the larger mainline churches?

I would reply with this comment that I received from one of my readers: “When your book was first given to me, I was skeptical, assuming that you were some sort of rich Bible-thumping kook trying to ease his guilt over being rich by spreading half truths. I have come to see that nothing could be farther from the truth. This book you wrote has made me see things clearer than I ever have before, and I will surely try to spread these powerful truths to everyone I know. In a very real sense, I have been freed.”

Question: If you could tell someone 1 or 2 things they could do to improve their financial life, what would they be?

1. Be Teachable
I did a book signing at Costco last Saturday. On multiple occasions after a passerby would read the title of the book, “Does Your Bag Have Holes?” they would answer the question aloud saying, “No. My bag doesn’t have any holes?” C.S. Lewis wrote of pride, “If you think you are not conceited, it means you are very conceited indeed.” Put into the context of the book title, “If you don’t think your bag has holes, you are in trouble.” Be willing to learn. Just as it takes thousands of hours of study and practice to develop the skills of a being successful engineer, so also it takes hours of study and practice to master the principles of prosperity.

2. Set Financial Goals with a Plan to Achieve Them
“Only three percent of Americans are independently wealthy: they can live off the income from their investment capital” (Charles A. Coonradt, The Game of Work, (Salt Lake City: Shadow Mountain, 1991) p. xx). Studies have also found that only three percent of Americans have written financial goals. Most people do not achieve financial independence not because it is difficult or complicated, but because they simply have never created the goal and action plan that leads to independent wealth. Most Americans earn enough throughout their working life to become financially independent, but few create and follow a financial plan that leads to freedom.

Question: Your book comes with a definite Christian viewpoint. Do you think that even non-believers can get something positive out of your book, or do you think it will simply appear as foolishness to them?

I have received comments from people of non-Christian faiths who have loved the book and benefited from it. The principles throughout the book of faith, prayer, humility, integrity, industry, and charity can be beneficial to all readers regardless of their religious beliefs. Everyone can benefit from the many wonderful stories in the book and topics such as how to raise productive and self-sufficient children, why bad things happen to good people, how to ensure an abundant life and retirement, and the six habits of successful entrepreneurs.
Question: In your book you talk about the 6 choices that people have to make, with their choices deciding where they end up in their financial life. Do you think that any one of those choices is holding more people back than the others, or is it a combination of all these bad choices causing people to fail?

All men are born equal but become unequal as they make decisions. Every man chooses to obey laws differently. I don’t think there is any one choice in particular that leads people to failure. The life we live is an accumulation of all our choices. One may choose to play softball while another chooses to build a business. One may choose to turn on the television while another chooses to read books. One may choose to golf on his day off while another chooses to spend time with his family. One man chooses to listen to the radio on his way to work and another man chooses to listen to positive tapes. We are born equal, yet years later live diversely, all because we chose to live divine laws differently. The book Does Your Bag Have Holes? is designed to help people make the choices which lead to greater productivity, abundance, and success.

C.S. Lewis wrote, “Every time you make a choice you are turning the central part of you . . . into something a little different from what it was before. And taking your life as a whole, with all your innumerable choices, all your life long you are slowly turning this central thing either into a heavenly creature or into a hellish creature. . . To be the one kind of creature is . . . joy and peace and knowledge and power. To be the other means madness, horror, idiocy, rage, impotence, and eternal loneliness. Each of us at each moment is progressing to the one state or the other.”

Question: In your book you talk about the 4 principles of prosperity. Do you think it is possible to be truly successful without buying into those 4 principles?

Our lives are governed by laws and principles, such as the law of gravity. A child, though ignorant of the law, will still fall if he jumps off a ledge. The laws that govern wealth, health, and relationships are as clear and as binding as those that govern the earth, such as gravity. Regardless of whether or not we know or understand the laws, they always operate the same. We might want to eat 10,000 calories a day and not gain weight. We might want to smoke cigarettes, but not get lung cancer. We want to violate laws and principles and still have freedom and prosperity. This is as foolish as a farmer planting corn and expecting to harvest watermelon. Some might also expect financial abundance but learn nothing regarding the laws of wealth. This is as silly as a farmer not planting and expecting a great harvest. Our success or failure, our happiness or unhappiness, depends on our knowledge and application of the laws of success in our lives.

Question: Are there any final thoughts you'd like to leave my readers with?

I will leave you will these final words. You are a child of God and as such the seeds of greatness are within you. The only thing that stands between where you are and where you want to be is time and effort. You decide what your life will be like. It doesn’t matter what your past has been because you have the power to choose your future. Choose now to learn, change, and take the necessary actions to make your ideal a reality. Now is the time to live a life of excellence by living the principles of prosperity. Now is the time to be responsible, humble, honest, industrious, thrifty, and charitable. Now is the time to live by these words from the Bible, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:13, New King James Version) Your Father in Heaven wants you to experience the joys of prosperity and as you seek His help, God will give you inspiration and strength to achieve a life of financial and spiritual freedom. As you live God’s truths, you will achieve happiness, independence, and peace. You will be prosperous.

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