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Jason Hartman hosts Rob Bell, one of TIME’s 100 Most Influential People in 2011 and author of Love Wins. Together they talk about entrepreneurship from the perspective of the Bible. Rob discusses what King Solomon teaches us about wealth and what we should be doing with it. Later, Jason and Rob explore why some people become victims of their own success.
This show is produced by the Hartman media company. For more information and links to all our great podcasts, visit Hartman media.com.
Welcome to the Solomon success show, where we explore the timeless wisdom of King Solomon and the Bible, as it relates to business and investing false prophets and get rich quick schemes are everywhere. Let’s not be distracted by these. Instead, let’s go to the source, the eternal principles that create a life of peace, power, and prosperity. Here’s our host, Jason Hartman.
Jason Hartman 0:40
It’s my pleasure to welcome Rob bell. He is founder of Mars Hill Bible Church, times 100 most influential people of 2011. He’s author of the best selling books, love wins, a book about heaven, hell and the fate of every person who has ever lived. The Zim some of love a new way. Understanding marriage, velvet Elvis repainting Christian faith and drops like stars a few thoughts on creativity and suffering. Rob, welcome. How are you?
Rob Bell 1:11
All? Thanks for having me on. Good. It’s good to have you and you’re coming to us today from Spokane, Washington. But I assume that’s not where you’re based, is it? No, I’m based out of Los Angeles. But right now I’m on tour. We’re doing 31 cities around the country. So I am three cities from the end of the tour.
Jason Hartman 1:28
Oh, boy, I bet you’ll be glad to sleep in your own bed soon. Right. How long does it take to hit 29? I guess you’ve hit 29. So far, right? Or something like that? Yeah. How long did that?
Rob Bell 1:40
I left home July 6. So you basically every day you’re in a different city and there’s like a day off once in a while. Wow. Otherwise it’s a city a day. Yeah.
Jason Hartman 1:50
That must be difficult, difficult job. Probably very fun at first, but I would assume it gets old quickly.
Rob Bell 1:56
I do love it and it is exhausting. Yeah, at the same time.
Jason Hartman 1:59
Interesting. Well, you know, that’s interesting, Rob, that’s an interesting point, because I wanted to ask you about suffering during our talk today, it’s possibility to spur creativity. And you said you love it, but it’s exhausting.
Rob Bell 2:13
You know, that’s interesting. I mean, just because something is difficult doesn’t mean it’s not great and fulfilling and, and that you don’t love it. Right, right. And think about everything that matters. Think about every app fleet you like, or think about every movie that inspired you. Whenever you hear the interview, you already mean the person who made whatever it is or did whatever it is. They always talk about the difficulty, every great business idea. They always talk about pushing the rock up the hill, you know what I mean? The suffering the sweat, the blood, the difficulty is always what people talk about. It’s like baked into the thing.
Jason Hartman 2:53
Yeah, yeah, it is. That’s very interesting. It’s almost like that sort of Hero’s Journey concept, because that’s a big Absolutely, yeah, yeah. Absolutely. Talk to us if you would about the Bible and some of its lessons about entrepreneurship investing or just general life success.
Rob Bell 3:10
If you look at the scriptures, even early in the Bible begins with a poem. Genesis chapter one is written in poetry form. And what’s so interesting is the poet keeps insisting that we are here with this extraordinary opportunity to make something of our lives, that creation and the act of creation. It isn’t just that we’re here and we’re created, but it’s that we have an opportunity to make something of the world. So what you find consistently in the scriptures is this affirmation that we live in a generative reality, that we can actually generate new things. And so when you think about business, when you think about being an entrepreneur, when you think about innovation, all of that is rooted in making something new that’s good for humanity, and this affirmation that we all have been given sacred, holy, unbelievably valuable gift of life. And the question is, what are we going to make? What are we going to do with it? And some people teach and some people organize things. And some people, they run the spreadsheets and some people make new things. But there’s an impulse. Each of us had been given to do something with this world. And that’s an extraordinary question.
Jason Hartman 4:22
Yeah, very interesting. Well, what about that impulse? I mean, maybe you want to drill down on that a little bit. Where does that come from? I like why are people I mean, that’s probably the question of the ages. Yeah, right answer, I assume.
Rob Bell 4:35
What I think is really interesting is if you look at the ancient Mesopotamian culture, the fundamental creation stories that were popular at the time that the Bible were first emerged, the popular stories of the culture of that day, like you’d be looking at Epic of Gilgamesh, or you look at the enuma Elish. In those the gods are at conflict with each other, especially like the enuma Elish, which was the dominant Babylonian creation story. The gods are conflict with each other. And the reason the earth came into being according to that story is because of conflict. One, God crushed another god and made the earth out of the carcass of the other God. What’s fascinating about the Hebrew story, the Genesis story is it insists when it talks about creation, that creation comes from divine joy. There’s one god the writer keeps insisting who doesn’t bring the universe into being because of conflict, but because of overflowing joy, and that raised like the book of Genesis was a provocative, provocative question that it raised in the culture of its day, which is, which view is the better view that we’re here because of conflict? Or we’re here because of overflowing generative joy? You don’t I mean, I mean, that was a revolutionary question. And what’s so interesting in the modern world today is still the question. Do you believe the engine of the universe the engine of creation, is conflict and destruction and Carnage? Or do you believe that it is generative Creativity and joy. And you think about business, some people, man, it is all just crush your competition and eat them for lunch and other people. It’s no, I’m here to do something good in the world. I’m here to make something that makes life better for people. It’s almost like the questions that were present in humanity 3000 4000 years ago are still the dominant questions.
Jason Hartman 6:22
Well, that’s what’s always been so interesting to me, Rob is, yeah, when you read Scripture, you realize that people really haven’t changed very much in thousands of years. Right, right.
Rob Bell 6:33
Right, right. You have these extraordinary changes, and we don’t believe the earth is flat, we now realize the earth isn’t the center of the solar system. There’s all this extraordinary change. And yet, as you just pointed out, there are still these fundamental human questions of, do I matter? What am I supposed to do with my energies? How do I get along with people? How do I love somebody? Well, what do I do when my everything is familiar has been taken away from me and I have to start But like, the fundamental human questions are still there thousands of years later,
Jason Hartman 7:06
maybe they will remain unanswered for eternity and maybe for a reason, you know,
Rob Bell 7:12
well, it makes for some great art and some great discussion.
Jason Hartman 7:16
It certainly does. It certainly does. Talk to us if you would about any of the investing principles, because, you know, one of the things that you talked about is that the two types of people in business, you know, crush your competition, eat them for lunch, or create something of value and, you know, expand the pie, if you will. I You didn’t say that exactly. But I’m saying that, you know, I noticed that about investing that it’s so I and many of my real estate or my listeners are into real estate investing, and it really can be a very much a win win arrangement. What amazes me on the broader subject of capitalism is that I’ve traveled extensively. I’ve been to 78 countries now. And I’m constantly traveling to our different real estate markets in which we Invest around the US. And Rob, Everywhere I go, all my needs are met as long as I have money, okay, granted, but you know, I can get room and board, I can get entertainment, everything is met, you know, internet connectivity phones, whatever you need. Just everywhere you go, the system works so beautifully and smoothly. There are almost never shortages. Prices are always relatively reasonable. It’s really an amazing system. You know,
Rob Bell 8:30
it has created such an extraordinary standard of living for so many people. it’s mind blowing. No, it’s mind blowing. And my friends in Africa will say I had a friend visiting from Africa who said it’s amazing. Your poor have cars and TVs. such an amazing statement. You mean Yeah. She was like,
Jason Hartman 8:51
well, not just that now. They have brand new Michael Jordan sneakers and iPhones. Yeah, but yeah. It really is amazing. So, you know, when it comes to that Win Win relationship, landlords have tenants, there’s that relationship. I mean, really both parties when more value is created, isn’t it?
Rob Bell 9:14
Absolutely. And in some ways that takes a more refined consciousness to understand that there’s got to be some way in this situation, that everybody can get what they need. And this can be a win win. And oftentimes, you’ll notice when people are functioning at, the only thing that can happen here is I need to win, which means everybody else needs to lose that duality of if I win, then you must lose is actually a very primitive, early stage of thinking. And one of the marks of growing and developing men and maturity is you move beyond that dual thinking, which always assumes that there’s a winner then there must be a loser. And you move to some call it unity of consciousness, which is Simply your awareness that we’re all in this together. And I don’t have to settle for the answer that says, I win, you lose, you win, I lose. But there is some more seasoned, mature, advanced way of thinking here where everybody can move forward together. And that actually is a significant leap forward. And you can even find developmental theory along these lines of what happens when people move to later stages of it’s almost like intellectual maturity. You know what I mean? Where they realize, hey, wait, I don’t have to be trapped in those old categories.
Jason Hartman 10:31
Yeah, it’s not a duality. There’s more to it than that. And right and then that’s a very good way to look at it. anything specifically on Solomon, the the richest person who ever lived? Oh, yeah, yeah, lessons you want to share there?
Rob Bell 10:45
Well, you probably find this really interesting. What’s really interesting among scholars, is that Solomon is seen as this extraordinary wise man, but he’s also in Jewish history. He’s read as a warning sign Because what happens is the Hebrew story begins with these Hebrew slaves in Egypt, the Book of Exodus, and they’re rescued from slavery. And they’re brought out into the wilderness. And they’re given this almost like mandate to be a new kind of tribe in the world, a tribe that blesses all the other tribes that has a mission in the world. But then by the time you get to Solomon, Solomon, it says, builds his temple using slaves. So the slaves that were rescued from slavery, are now using other slaves to build their temple. And so one of the questions you find this really interesting about Solomon, especially in among Hebrew scholars, is what are you going to do with your wealth and power. And when Solomon builds his temple using slaves, it’s a misuse of his extraordinary wealth and power later in his life, and that the Bible is actually a very sharp critique of wealth and power. When it is not used to help those who need it the most. So the Queen of Sheba comes to visit Solomon. And she says, I know why you’ve been given all of this wealth and power. She says, you have been given that to maintain justice and righteousness. Now, what’s interesting about the phrases justice and righteousness, Misha, and sadaqa is the Hebrew words there is that is essentially she says, I know why you’ve been given all this. You’ve been given all this, to help those on the underside to give people opportunities to make the world a better place. And so what you have is this outsider comes into Solomon’s world and says Solomon, you have to be careful that you don’t just spend all this on yourself, because that’ll turn really ugly really fast. And of course, it’s a fantastic contemporary question. Any of us do we use our power, our success, our wealth, our abundance? Do we use it simply to build our empire even bigger, or do we use it to invest in good Things to give to others to give others a leg up to give others an opportunity. Once again, it’s an ancient question. It’s still one of the questions, the concept
Jason Hartman 13:08
of giving and tithing. It just amazes me that the government can’t live on 10%.
Rob Bell 13:17
Well, you know, it’s interesting, you mentioned that because once again, we’re now in another election cycle. There’s always a candidate who suggests some sort of flat you don’t mean there’s someone who always suggests a 10 or 13. And there’s always like this Haha, that’s kind of a crit. They’re always considered the wingnut. But it’s funny to me how many people sitting at home are like, I kind of like that idea. You know what I mean? Oh,
Jason Hartman 13:39
it’s a great idea. I mean, why I can’t believe we don’t have a flat tax. You know, it’s so seems so obvious, or a flattened tax, maybe it’s not completely flat, but a lot flatter than what we have now. But of course, now we’ve got this huge entrenched industry of accountants and CPAs, who, you know, would oppose it massively and they have lobbyists and They want to keep defending us against our own government rather than doing proactive things like, you know, helping us manage our cash flow and project into the future and, you know, make make financial decisions, you know, but your return on that one if you I don’t know if you don’t have a comment, but
Rob Bell 14:16
Well, I was thinking that, you know, in politics, they have this phrase follow the money. Mm hmm. And what you were just pointing out was, why haven’t we done something that might be really straightforward and easier for everybody? Oh, because a number of people have money invested. Jobs invested in TV. Now it is, oh, that’s why it stays late. It’s got it. It’s like the line is pretty straightforward on that one. That’s what’s so
Jason Hartman 14:37
sad about America in so many ways is that you get these entrenched interests, and you just can’t do anything. You know, even if the system makes no sense. If it doesn’t work, you know, you get an entrenched interest and you’re just you’re not going to get anywhere,
Rob Bell 14:54
right institutions, naturally bend towards self preservation. And what’s so interesting is how many institutions started as a radical, fresh new idea to help people. But as soon as you have a large payroll, as soon as you have a need for a certain monthly income, then the issue becomes not what is the next best idea? What is the absolute best way to do it? But how do we make sure we protect and preserve this place? What you see in business all the time, there was the startup, you know, it’s only a few people that have a shoestring budget, they have an idea. They build something, it’s extraordinary. Now they have a payroll and have to keep the money coming in. And that very creative impulse gets stifled. It’s like the great challenge of institutions. It really is. And I’ve noticed that with charities bent on a few boards over the years and, and their whole goal is just to expand themselves and, and grow. It’s not necessarily to solve the actual problem anymore.
Jason Hartman 15:54
It’s like the old thing that happened in the past, you know, yeah, that’s Yeah, first thing Oh, Yeah, there’s certainly been lots of talk over the years about tax free status for churches. It seems like I’ve been reading a few more articles lately about a push to eliminate that. What are your thoughts?
Rob Bell 16:12
I started a church he was part of a church or was a local church pastor for a number of years until about four years ago. I don’t actually have strong opinions about that. I I’m I’m surprised I thought I would, you know, I guess your position would be of course that you’re for it. But no, not necessarily. Well, it’s fine. I just the problem for me traveling around the world and seeing what people actually go through. I mean, you’ve traveled a lot. So you’ve seen the sorts of things where what churches are actually facing around the world and being in countries where churches are meeting late at night for fear for their own safety, churches where if you are public in any way about your faith, so for me, there’s this extraordinary luxury of being the western church. You don’t mean you can meet in public. You can have huge building, you can add mean churches advertise they have multi million dollar budgets. It’s awesome. So part of it for me is just the perspective of seeing how difficult it is in parts of the world. And how, in many ways easy it is. So, yeah, do people get a write off? Fantastic, tax free, awesome, totally for it great. It’s just the larger perspective of the kinds of things the western church is discussing. And the kinds of things I’ve seen other churches and other places discussing, you know, maybe it’s like, sort of on the spectrum of things, how amazing that this is, the kinds of issues that we’re actually discussing. Extraordinary. Okay, so you mean that the tax free status is the issue we’re discussing instead of can even practice our faith, right? Or, hey, look, who was beheaded this week, and oh, my god. I mean, that sort of stuff that real people in places in the world, some of the oppression, just for beliefs is like, whoa. So I think it’s extraordinary that we live in a country where we even have this sort of status and all for it.
Jason Hartman 18:04
Yeah, of course it is. Of course it is. And speaking of which, or nonbelief. I was just reading an article this morning about these, what they call hackings where people are being hacked to death with hatchets and axes for being secular bloggers, Islamic groups are grabbing them and hacking them to death. Because they are secular. unbeli. Unbelievable. Yeah, yeah. I mean, where are we going with that? Is this the end times are we you know, are we going to have this just a fight that’s going to last the next thousand years? It’s unbelievable. It really is. I mean, it is, like a seventh century mentality. It’s barbaric. Beyond
Rob Bell 18:46
Belief, right? The return to medieval levels of thinking is shocking. It seems like there’s always been some somewhere in the world something happening that raises questions about how can This continue is just the end is this seems like every there’s a long history of people saying see now we’re really at the end. And it turns out that we weren’t the end. But it does seem as though the gap in the world between people who, like you said have their needs met at some basic level, and those who are in crushing, stifling poverty and lack. that gap does seem to be creating new levels of frustration and anger. And I don’t know whether it’s at some level internet connectivity means now people are more aware. And we know that just general levels of awareness are raised. And if you are in a setting where you have no access to clean water, to education, to transportation, to any road to a better life, the anger that is there. And if you have gotten glimpses of how other people are living, what abundance they have, Then somebody comes along, you are an easy target to be manipulated, they hand you a gun and say you see what they have, they’re part of the problem. Those are some very real, real issues. And so for those of us in developed world who have so much everything we do to help empower those who need it and don’t have basic needs met, does make the world more safe. And so many people now are saying, if you want to fight terrorism, work to feed everybody. You don’t I mean, work to work to make education free to everybody around the world. And says really interesting new movements are starting that are saying, you know what, you can fight terrorism with an army, but you may be making people even more angry, or you can fight terrorism by fighting the conditions that breeds such dissatisfaction and anger, that people are easy targets to be manipulated and to be recruited. Would it be fair to say I mean, I get your vision for And I like it. But would it be fair to say that that’s, you know, what you’re talking about is the long term plan. But the immediate solution is you still need to fight it with an army or in a police force. Right? I would say that the we’re talking the long term people saying, Okay, how in the long term, right, do you
Jason Hartman 21:15
make the world safer, right, but what do we do today was we still have to have morality Right, right. You know, you do it with force on force, unfortunately,
Rob Bell 21:23
very much and literally, I know people who are trying to do good in certain parts of the world, and literally to do their job, they need security guards and bodyguards, you know, anything like they are working in areas, with education, with water with food with better agricultural practices, but just to go into those areas and help. They need protection. Sometimes you literally need a bodyguard, just to go in and do good work.
Jason Hartman 21:49
Yeah, scary stuff. It’s really, really amazing. Well, Rob, you know, any closing thoughts? Just to wrap up here, first of all, what’s your website
Rob Bell 21:58
Rob Bell, comm r ob BL l.com
Jason Hartman 22:01
fantastic. And listeners can check out Rob Bell calm, but just any closing thoughts on advice for investing or business?
Rob Bell 22:11
The great writer Abraham Heschel said, I did not ask for success. I asked for wonder. And in investing in business and in innovation and in making new things and being an entrepreneur, it’s one thing to invent great products to make great decisions to make a lot of money, which is awesome. But the really interesting thing is to create the kind of life where you wake up in the morning and you think, I can’t believe I get to do this. How great is this? And I met lots of people who have made a lot of money and made really good financial decisions. But what they all at the end of the day want more than anything, is they want a life filled with the wonder and expectation and anticipation of you wake up in the morning and you like going to work You love the idea that this day, you’re going to have some new adventure, you’re going to have some new challenge, you’re going to get to use your energies to make something new. And that’s actually the real question of the soul. And if you give your energies to that, I want to create a life where I wake up in the morning with, I can’t believe I get to do this. You’ll probably make great investments and probably end up doing great business.
Jason Hartman 23:27
Yeah, yeah. Good advice. Good stuff. Rob Bell, thank you so much for joining us.
Rob Bell 23:32
Oh, my pleasure. Thank you.
Jason Hartman 23:34
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