The Christian Chronicle interviews Dave Ramsey
You’ve been out there doing this a while. How are you – and perhaps others – doing in changing the mindset of Christians and their congregations in approaching debt management and stewardship?
Certainly, our friends over at Crown Ministry and I are probably the two best known and have the best brand penetration. Every time I cut up a credit card, they print up about a billion more of them. I don’t think I’ll be out of business. I think we’ll always have ministry to do. … In a sense, Financial Peace University and Crown Ministry stand against the entire tide — the largest marketing engine ever known to man. That’s the financial institutions.
They spend more selling debt than any other industry, every year. So Crown and Financial Peace University are trying to catch the tidal way with a teacup. We consider ourselves to be in the star fish business, so we can throw them back one at a time and help that one. Every Joe and Susie that we get to grasp the idea of handling money God’s way, it has a profound impact on their lives, their marriages, their careers, even changing their family tree, their spiritual walk. Every part of the life is affected. …
So you see yourself as swimming against the ocean tide?
We’re having more impact than we did 10 years ago and 10 years from now, we’ll have a lot more impact than that. It would be really cool if we could get Citibank as much in the doghouse on credit cards as McDonald’s is on the dog house on nutrition. If we did a really did a great job, we could get to where it is on smoking. It’s politically incorrect to smoke anywhere now. Fifteen years ago, that was not case. It would be cool if Christians did something positive like that.
Some say you’re too vitriolic in cutting up credit cards and suggesting that people shouldn’t have even one credit card. Do you agree or disagree?
I don’t think I am. I’m a real simple man. I do what works. And I’ve met with thousands of millionaires over the years. I’ve never met one who said, ‘Dave, I made it all with my Discover points. I’ve never met one who said, ‘Those airline miles were my breakthrough financial moment.’ … There’s nowhere in Scripture where God used debt to bless his people. No, it’s always that it’s a curse. … You can play on the interstate and not get hit by a car, but eventually one of them is going to get you.
Has your message changed any in the last couple of years?
I’m probably more vitriolic, to use your word, and that’s just because we’re more confident in what we’re doing. We’ve just seen so many millions of lives changed by God’s truth intersecting with their lives. And we get just stacks of wonderful letters and emails of marriages saved. So, I’m less willing to negotiate with someone who’s willing to play footsy.
There’s a way to drive a car that doesn’t put you in the ditch. There’s a way that will put you in the ditch. These are not hard ideas. The same is true with money.