On the bottom of every page in the book The Total Money Makeover Dave Ramsey writes the words, “Live like no one else, so that you can live like no one else.” Unfortunately, Dave Ramsey never completely defines what that means. My understanding of the phrase is something like this – “don’t buy something now, so that in the future you can buy something better.” This makes me wonder: Do I sacrifice today so I can win more tomorrow, or do I sacrifice today so I can help someone else win tomorrow? Is the goal of Christian finances to build wealth?
As Christians, it is essential that we clarify our financial goals. While our spending, earning and investing might mirror the actions of others, the differentiating factor is our motivation. Ultimately, I believe frugality is an intentional discipline where you control your spending for a desired goal. A significant part of that goal ought to be to assist others. What is your ultimate financial goal? Have you established one? What does it mean to have financial peace? Are financial peace and financial freedom synonymous?
Ramsey’s seventh step instructs us to build wealth like crazy and give. Granted, this phase involves spending, saving, and giving. I have no problem with those categories. However, it seems that in this process giving is undermined. Something about the seventh chapter simply does not set well with me. And yes, I know the chapter does talk about giving, but I believe it is a sub-topic instead of a main topic. Ramsey could have written, live like no one else so you can give like no one else, but he did not. He could have encouraged us to give like crazy in step seven, but wealth building takes precedence. I am not saying that Dave Ramsey the man is not generous – I’m sure he is! I’m not saying he doesn’t teach about giving – he does. I’m not saying the possession of stuff is evil – it’s not. I am saying I wish he would have made giving a greater focal point of the entire seven step process. Get yourself and your house in order so you can be more useful in God’s kingdom.
In my article on Spending Money and Guilt: A Christian Conversation I confessed my tendency towards an inability to fully and completely enjoy my status as one of the world’s wealthy. I am burdened (blessed?) by an active financial conscience. I pray, I earnestly pray, that I will never be concerned about building wealth like crazy. I don’t want to hoard. I am already doing enough of that with what I currently have. Instead of trying to build wealth like crazy, I am striving for financial peace. I am looking for financial freedom.
- The ability to follow God’s calling without wrestling with the monetary implications. As a minister, my livelihood depends on funds I receive from preaching the Word of God. This can be a complex relationship at times. Financial peace completely removes that factor.
- The ability to provide for my children. I have sat with mothers who have worried over their children because they had nothing to feed them. That worry is painful and excruciating. Peace flows out of the realization that my children are well fed and provided for.
- The ability to provide for the needs of others. I want to learn to increase in the grace of giving. I pray God grants me that opportunity. I want to experiences the fullness of the blessings of giving.
How Do I Define Financial Peace?
I pray that the financial advantage I gain as a steward for Christ will be used to bless others as much as it blesses my own family.
What are your goals? How do you define financial peace? How does ‘building wealth like crazy’ jive with your faith?