January 28, 2007

Where to go for financial counsel

Filed under: Uncategorized — Michael Wright @ 2:30 am

It seems like Dave Ramsey has become a fad…or at least I hear a lot more about him now than I did a couple of years ago. I believe Ramsey has a lot of good things to say about budgeting and managing money. However, I’m concerned that his approach is less Biblical and more focused on our own selfish wants and desires rather than finding God’s best plan for how we are to be stewards over the money and resources He has entrusted to our care. My wife Shawna wrote a nice posting yesterday which appears as a response to something said on another blog. Her response was so good I wanted to include it on my blog as well!

Hey, all…I also was looking forward to hearing your response regarding the Dave Ramsey event. I want you all to know that my intention with my earlier comment was not to discount Dave Ramsey nor the good he is doing for people in debt distress! In fact, like I said, we listen quite often to his radio program. I have also seen part of a live event via DVD someone loaned us. I would most assuredly say that anyone who feels they can benefit from his way of explaining things should by all means “go for it!” Please don’t stop listening to Ramsey or write him off because of my ramblings. I’m thinking in terms of promoting him in the holiness movement as someone to look to for financial advice. I guess what even triggered my first response, was your comment, Aimee, that your church people are all into Dave. That concerns us just a bit…My thoughts are along the lines of the following (and maybe they are more than anyone else is interested in! If so, I wouldn’t blame you!):

a) Why the recent Dave Ramsey “fad”? Crown (and before that Larry Burkett’s organization) has been promoting these get-out-of-debt principles for years! It just worries me a bit when things become fads in the church movement. We’ve seen others…most come about because someone is successful in sensationalizing something that has a good basic principle, but is turned into something…well, sensational. Is that why we buy into things? Because they appeal to our need for entertainment? I feel that we need to be teaching Biblical financial principles-such as stewardship of God’s money-on a regular basis in our churches (through Sunday School, Bible studies, etc.) and we personally been on THAT soap box for a LONG time…not many have seemed to see the need for it. I guess we can thank Dave for helping everyone see the light! =)

b) I do have to admit – on the DVD of the live event, Dave did come across as a little less harsh and cocky. He seems to appeal most to those who haven’t a clue how to start this process called budgeting, and there are an amazing number of people in this category, sad to say. On his radio show, on the other hand, he seems a little rough on folks…maybe that’s just me.

c)Dave Ramsey doesn’t talk much about giving. His whole mantra appeals to our selfishness. On the bottom of EVERY page in his book that my hubby just read ( I think it was The Total Money Makeover) is his famous phrase, “Live like no one else so someday you can live like no one else.” What about all of our pastors and wives of little holiness churches who do live like no one else…rice and beans but NOT because they can’t figure out a budget…and HAVE no money for retirement, no savings built up, etc. What would we do without them? If we all lived in such a way as to just build wealth for ourselves, we probably wouldn’t have any missionaries on the field. Again, just a thought.

d)Um…being debt-free (with exception of the house) certainly IS a wonderful thing! And no matter what it takes to get there, it’s worth it! We’ve tried to live that way all our married lives. We’ve had a few very short-term loans – usually through family members for a lower interest rate – that have been paid off very quickly. That means I don’t really have a grand home, nor do I have any high-priced clothes. Actually, I don’t need much since I’m a SAHM. We are able to support some missionaries on a regular basis and have money to use when someone who has a need comes to our attention. We are “free” to give! Maybe that’s where my next point should come in.

e) Do I DESERVE a vacation to the Bahamas or even Disneyworld when Glenn and Steph Gault are barely making ends meet on the mission field in Lesotho? Dave Ramsey says that if you have the money, you DESERVE to be able to wear a $30,000 watch! Is that what God wants for you? Where does the principle of GOD owning everything come in? My husband has led the Crown study four times now and his assessment is that people should go through the Crown study first to help them develop a solid Biblical view of money and possessions. Then they could look to Dave or others for practical advice on getting out of debt if they wish. Crown focuses on perspective. Then you get practical after the priorities are in place. Crown focuses on GOD being in control of WHAT we do with our money. We aren’t to assume we can just pamper ourselves the rest of our lives just because we can. And don’t forget the whole idea of not needing to depend on anyone (God, even?) because we’ve got our debts paid and our emergency fund built up so we’re ready for anything.

I DON’T want to seem cynical…the problem with email/blogs/the like is the lack of ability to read another person’s tone of voice. I hope you understand where I’m coming from. The holiness movement has not done the best at providing solid Biblical teaching on finances and so our people tend to wander a little in that area. You’d probably be surprised at how little even some of the finance departments of our Bible colleges understand about these things. Sometimes good people with little training get shoved into these positions and have to do their best! And I’m NOT throwing stones at them. But it’s sad we are in this predicament as a movement.

Please don’t write me off, ya’ll! I hardly ever post anything to anyone’s blog. I haven’t much to offer most of the time. I guess this one just struck a chord with me. It’s something we care deeply about.


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