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So, this is my first post after a long, unplanned hiatus with a lot of personal stuff involved, some of which I may share some day.
What prompted this post was going through Dave Ramsey’s Financial Coach Master Series a couple of weeks ago. It’s something I’d planned on doing, but hadn’t been able to do til recently, when a friend from church made it possible for me to come along with him and his wife while they did the same training.
The fact is, I am not a natural saver, nor have I always been a consistent give. That’s always been a point of regret and sometimes shame for me. Although I’m naturally pretty good with numbers, I’m more of a feeler than a thinker at times, so the topic always felt like a chore to me or like something to avoid thinking about.
My strength as a worship leader has always been in being able to connect with God on an emotional level, which is part of why music was a natural outlet. It’s where we first got to know each other, if I can put it that way. This is why Dave Ramsey was such a God-send. He focuses primarily on behavior and connecting to what’s going on inside you to cause you misbehave with money. He can be blunt and gracious all at the same time. He might be the first person who ever called my behavior stupid where I felt like that was a loving thing to say (not directly, through his radio show, books, DVD classes, etc. I did finally get to meet him in person after the coach training). This is because he’s so open about his own failures in this area.
I bring all this up because I believe God is interested in setting us free, and money is one of the biggest ways people get bound up. I know this from experience. When I first heard of Dave, I knew Anna and I were avoiding our debt problems. I had already paid off about $26,000 through credit counseling a couple of years earlier, and I thought we had about $35,000 or so. When we started his plan, we added up all our debts, and it turns out I was about half wrong – it was just under $70,000. It was a little sickening to look at that number. We got pretty fired up though. We finally got a budget that worked – one that we lived by, not one where we just tracked what we were doing after the fact. We had goals – debt we wanted to be free of, a job I wanted to quit, children we wanted to adopt. It reminds me of a quote I first heard from John Eldredge in “Wild at Heart“, though he was quoting Howard Thurman:
“Don’t ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive, and go do that, because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”
The fact is, I never felt that as deep as I did when we started getting our money under control. It wasn’t just that we payed our debt down ($40,000 gone in the first 2 years, and as of this writing $8,500 left to go), we were able to give to our church consistently for the first time in our lives. God also sent us our son, adopted through the Foster Care system. He also started healing me and freeing me from addictions I’d struggled with for years. He’s also freed me to pursue passions he put in my heart before I was born. Life feels more like and adventure than a chore now.
I’ve heard Dave Ramsey say that God uses money as a way to get to talk to us about other, deeper things going on in our hearts. I know how that feels deep in my heart now.
Thanks, Dave, for teaching me something deeper about worship than I’d learned in 8 years as a worship leader.