Redefining Financial Freedom [Author Interview]

Having an active website on the blogosphere has allowed me to connect with other authors, leaders, influencers, and decision makers from a variety of sectors and industries, and from all across the globe. And since my primary focus in life, work, and ministry, is connecting the biblical principles of disciple-making movements and apostolic church planting, with the rapidly expanding mission field that exists in today’s marketplace, I always enjoy connecting with other Kingdom-minded “change agents” and believers who are positively affecting their workplace with their faith and the power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

One such acquaintance, is Chad Hamilton, CFP ®, author of the new book, Redefining Financial Freedom: A Gospel-Based Approach to Money (PFI Publishing: Denver, 2016) and Deep Wealth: An Exploration of Money, Meaning, and What Really Matters (PFI Publishing: Denver, 2015). Chad and I share many similar interests, including both having a background in financial services, and a shared understanding of money as a heavenly resource from God, that requires intense responsibility, integrity, and stewardship. In fact, our first encounter occurred over a review I had written of Andy Stanley’s book, How to Be Rich: It’s Not What You Have, It’s What You Do With What You Have (Zondervan, 2013). Recently, I interviewed Chad about his own book, Redefining Financial Freedom, and think that you’ll find our dialogue insightful.

  1. How does Redefining Financial Freedom fit with or differ from your previous book, Deep Wealth?

Deep Wealth was written for anybody, regardless of their perspective on faith, whereas Redefining Financial Freedom assumes the reader is a follower of Jesus.  That allowed me to dive deeper into the scriptural implications of financial decision-making in RFF.  There are certain similar themes running throughout both of them, particularly the need for more integration and less compartmentalization as it pertains to money, work, and spirituality.

  1. What is the goal you have for readers of Redefining Financial Freedom?

I want to challenge the reader by upending conventional wisdom about financial matters.  We need to be intentional in how we approach financial topics and creatively reimagine what it could look like to truly embrace a redemptive perspective.

  1. How do you connect the concept of freedom in faith to finances?

As human beings, we are all made to worship.  We all shape our lives around what we love most.  The only question is the object of our love.  Anytime we love anything more than we love God – whether that is a career, a relationship, or a certain status or image – it will control us.  And we will not be freed, no matter how much money we accumulate.  Therefore, true financial freedom is contingent on freedom in Christ.

  1. There are many questions about money. What makes the three you chose to address so important?

I chose three that are, frankly, easy to remember and that span all aspects of financial considerations.  Of the 3 money questions – 1) How did you get it? 2) What are you doing with it? 3) What is it doing to you? – we often miss the first and last ones.  We will never be truly free if our notion of freedom implies that we are liberated from work.  Instead, we need to learn to be liberated in our work by understanding the meaning of vocation or a calling to serve.  And, in terms of the last question, do we really ask what money is doing to our souls?  Jesus talked about money a lot.  Approximately, 15% of everything he said had to do with money.  His primary objective was to show that money is a great magnifier – it reveals what we truly love.  Therefore, it is tremendously important that we understand why we are making the financial decisions we are making.

  1. Can you explain the pendulum swings of financial idolatry and financial apathy?

I look at idolatry and apathy as the two big barriers to freedom.  The Bible says that sin is really a matter of disordered loves so, as a result, we are prone to attribute way too much importance to what money can do for us (idolatry) and too little importance on what money can do to us (apathy).  It is a matter of idolatry when we look to money to provide us only those things that God can provide (i.e., status, love, security, comfort).  On the other hand, we struggle with apathy when we don’t care to even ask questions pertaining to the types of investments we are making or the meaning of the work we are doing.

  1. Why is having the right attitude about vocation necessary for stewarding financial resources biblically?

The fact is that most of us will spend the majority of our adult lives doing some kind of work.  Money does not just appear from out of nowhere – at least not for most of us!  It is the result of our human capital (our time, talent, and abilities) being converted into financial capital.  And when the Bible speaks of stewardship, it is referring not only to our financial resources, but also to our work or vocation.  And if we don’t have the right attitude about our vocation, it will negatively impact how we think about other financial goals such as retirement or gifting.

  1. Why is work both external and internal?

Work is how we properly utilize our God-given gifts and abilities (internal) to help serve customers and/or the community (external).

  1. How can I begin to tangibly integrate my Christian values into investing?

I’d encourage you to go to the Christian Investment Forum (christianinvestmentforum.org).  There is a lot of good information there – everything from an introduction to the topic to performance studies on the impact of utilizing values-based investment screens to details about fund companies that incorporate a faith-based approach to investing.

  1. Your “Gospel-Based Approach to Money” is very holistic, some would even say reminiscent of the Hebraic paradigm. Why do you think so many North American believers look at finances with more of a Platonic worldview, where the compartmentalizing of finances allows people to use the “end result” of giving to justify the “means” of unethical monetary accumulation?

This is what people are trained to do.  If you look at the myriad books and educational programs out there from Christian financial gurus, they nearly all take what I would call a “Law Based Approach to Money.”  They teach you to follow certain financial principles because… it will allow you to be debt free or financially secure or live your best life now, etc.  A gospel-based approach to money, on the other hand, says you follow certain financial principles because the story of Jesus Christ has so gripped your heart that your grip on money is loosened in ways that benefit you and others around you.  We don’t need more teaching about personal finance that sprinkles in Bible verses or Biblical principles; we need more teaching that starts with the gospel and, consequently, reshapes the way we relate to money.  Ultimately, we don’t need good advice that informs us; we need the Good News that transforms us.

  1. Can you explain what you mean by a “double bottom line”?

Traditionally, most people have invested purely in search of profits. If you wanted to make a difference in the community, you would do that through your gifting.

This resulted in a compartmentalized approach which essentially divided financial intentions into two buckets — one for investing and one for charitable giving.  This approach means you are seeking to achieve a financial return with a strategy of traditional investing and a social return through philanthropy.

The problem with this approach is that it ignores a fundamental reality.  All businesses have a social return.  The only question is whether it is a positive or negative one.  The solution is to redefine “the bottom line” you are trying to achieve with investing.  If you are no longer singularly concerned with financial returns but also social returns, then you are taking a “double-bottom line” approach toward investing.

  1. Where can my subscribers connect with you?

Go to RedefiningFinancialFreedom.com or email me at chad_ham@msn.com

 

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About Joshua Lee Henry

Joshua Lee Henry is an executive leadership coach and organizational health consultant, with a background in pastoral ministry, business-2-business sales, and nonprofit management. He serves both pastors and CEO's, helping them to multiply the positive impact of their churches and companies within their communities, to "Advance the Kingdom to Transform Society".
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