After investing in real estate and going bankrupt in 1988, Dave Ramsey had a “never again moment” where he vowed that he would never be a slave to debt. Thus began his journey toward financial independence. He soon began teaching his method at church and on local radio. Now he has a self-help empire that teaches millions of Americans the Dave Ramsey method towards financial freedom.
The Dave Ramsey Show uses the podcast medium to reach online listeners with content from his daily call-in radio show. The Dave Ramsey Show podcast offers great basic financial principles; however, listeners must be cautious and avoid idolizing personal wealth or the Dave Ramsey method itself.
The Dave Ramsey method teaches simple and effective financial principles such as saving for an emergency fund, budgeting expenses, and eliminating debt. Dave advises listeners to delay gratification and deal with consumer debt before buying a house or returning to school. Using credit for living expenses is not an option. Each episode includes a testimonial from a listener who followed the method and eliminated their debt. The podcast inspires and equips those who feel their personal finances are out of control.
While learning new financial principles, listeners must be cautious that personal wealth does not become an idol. The Dave Ramsey method does not stop at getting people out of debt but encourages each person to strive to become a millionaire. Dave Ramsey, a Christian, often incorporates Scriptural references to support this financial goal. Yet Jesus teaches something different in Matthew 6:19-21:
“Don’t store up treasures here on earth, where moths eat them and rust destroys them, and where thieves break in and steal. Store your treasures in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal. Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be.”
Freedom from debt can open up amazing opportunities to serve Jesus and others. When personal wealth is idolized, we become a slave to possessions and lose the desire to be other-centered.
We must also be careful that the Dave Ramsey method is not the only resource on which we depend. This method can be helpful for some, particularly middle-class Americans. Dave Ramsey claims that income is the greatest tool for an individual to grow wealth. Ramsey often advises callers to find ways to significantly increase their income. Little acknowledgement is made toward a financial system that has barriers for many of its participants. For example, through no fault of their own, millions of Americans have lost their jobs because of the coronavirus pandemic. The Dave Ramsey method cannot solve everybody’s financial situation and can cause harm if prescribed without a full understanding of the personal and systemic forces at play.
For those who find themselves in debt, listening to the Dave Ramsey Show podcast is a great first step toward understanding practical solutions to become debt-free. However, complete trust in the method idolizes it. Listeners must balance what Dave teaches with advice from other financial experts. And as Christ-followers, we must submit ourselves to the teachings of Jesus. We learn that Jesus cares deeply for the poor and oppressed (Luke 21:4). We also learn that Jesus warns those who seek wealth and status at the expense of others (Luke 11:42). Ultimately, we can take comfort in the words of our creator in Matthew 6:33 who promises that when we “seek the kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, he will give you everything you need.” (Ramsey Podcast Network)