We began our first Financial Peace University class at Asbury UMC last night. Dave Ramsey is a fun guy to watch, no doubt. He also had some good things to say last night on the video we watched. And while Dave is fun and energetic in his presentation, his advice is really pretty simple. His basic strategy to help people take control of their financial future is summed up in two words – “BABY STEPS”. He made the point that if you take small steps in the same direction on a consistent basis, you will eventually get where you want to go.
Last night I also had a horrendous night sleeping (a late dinner might have been my undoing). Early this morning I found myself flipping through the channels because at 4:00 in the morning there is nothing worth landing on (but if you just flip through the channels it’s better? I have no answer for that). What I saw as I flipped was a number of real estate programs and fitness programs all of which promised to make you wealthy or make you buff in no more than 6 months. They weren’t selling baby steps.
I think Dave Ramsey has the better idea. Whether we are trying to get in shape physically, financially, or even spiritually, flashy “get-it-done-quick” ideas just won’t work like the boring basics. Ramsey encourages people to make small changes in order to build up an emergency fund of $1,000. Easy to do for most people in about 30 days – it just takes making a few changes like not eating out and clipping some coupons.
Looking in the mirror the other day I didn’t like what I saw physically, so, this morning I walked to work – less than half a mile I figure. It wasn’t a 30 minute workout and if I do that everyday for a month it may not make a huge difference, but it will eventually. It’s not flashy but it will work over time. In the same way I look in the mirror sometimes and don’t like what I see spiritually. I sometimes feel more distant from God than I’d like – meaning I really feel far from God. Then I begin to read about the great saints of the faith and people like John Wesley who prayed for hours each day and I begin to think I need to do that, and, maybe I do. But, I can easily get discouraged trying to do it all at once. However, if I just begin to take baby steps in God’s direction I will continue to get closer to him – slow and simple can really change my life.
I haven’t played golf in a couple of years now, but I remember one time playing with my dad when I was growing up. We ended up playing with an older man who couldn’t hit the ball very far. There was truly nothing flashy about his game. As for me, I wanted to drive the ball as far as I could and I could hit much further than that old man. But, my ball usually went a long distance in the wrong direction while the old man’s went not as far but right down the middle. Needless to say he beat my score by a mile. Fast and flashy rarely beats slow and simple. Consider these words written by the Apostle Paul:
…we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. (Romans 5:3b-4)
Simple steps will take you through the struggles and lead to a more sustainable certainty – which we know in Christ Jesus as HOPE.
Take it slow and steady – baby steps in the right direction will get you where you want to go.
Holy high five to you, Mike