Dave Ramsey Responds to Flak About His New Multi-Million Dollar Home

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dgszweda's picture

I am not in agreement with a lot of Dave Ramsey's principles, but not sure where the "sin" exists by someone building a multi-million dollar home.  Abraham, Job, Solomon and others had plenty of wealth in Scripture.

Greg Long's picture

Didn't he just build a multi-million dollar home a few years ago? Is this a different one?

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Greg Long, Ed.D. (SBTS)

Pastor of Adult Ministries
Grace Church, Des Moines, IA

Adjunct Instructor
School of Divinity
Liberty University

Joel Shaffer's picture

The Bible speaks of generousity when it comes to rich people and their money (I Timothy 6:17-19).  Ramsey's net worth is around 55 million http://www.therichest.com/celebnetworth/celeb/tv-personality/dave-ramsey...      and his foundation has over 2 million in assets, which gives around a half a million dollars to many non-profits, Christian ministries and churches per year  http://www.guidestar.org/FinDocuments/2013/274/314/2013-274314234-0ac97a...

 

 

   

Shaynus's picture

In talking to various friends here in Nashville, Dave Ramsey's reputation is not exactly stellar as a boss and he is a significant employer here. I've had several trustworthy people from different channels tell me he is an overbearing boss. 

dgszweda's picture

Shaynus wrote:

In talking to various friends here in Nashville, Dave Ramsey's reputation is not exactly stellar as a boss and he is a significant employer here. I've had several trustworthy people from different channels tell me he is an overbearing boss. 

 

And this has to do with the article, how?

DLCreed's picture

I see absolutely no problem with someone asking if it is appropriate that a public figure who makes millions of dollars annually selling a product to people largely through churches and who claims to be a Christ-follower should be building a house which by almost anyone's standard is palatial.  The same has been done in recent days about the home of Steven Furtick and the book-selling practices of Driscoll and Jeremiah.  Public figures lose a lot of their privacy and no one is beyond questioning.  Public figures can condescendingly tell the critics to "buzz off" as Ramsey did, they can also offer appropriate explanations, they can repent, they can reconsider, they can resign or simply ignore it all.  But they don't get to make millions of dollars off of Christians and claim that no one has the right to raise legitimate questions that can be related to profiting off the Kingdom of God.

 

dgszweda's picture

DLCreed wrote:

But they don't get to make millions of dollars off of Christians and claim that no one has the right to raise legitimate questions that can be related to profiting off the Kingdom of God.

The problem with this is that everyone who sells anything to church members is making a profit off the Kingdom of God.  Even the traveling evangelistic teams, otherwise they wouldn't be able to operate.  The fact is that right or wrong, millions of Christians have given their money to this guy.  While I don't agree with his approach, he is not doing any evil.

The question arises as to what is a "lot of money".  Some of us drive Honda Accords with nice leather interiors and nav systems and so on, that many people in the US would find as luxurious.  A lot of us probably live in homes that a lot of people would love to have.  Dave Ramsey has some money, but there are 10's of thousands of people in the US that have more.  Is the problem having the money or how they spend it?  Is it wrong if someone worth $55 Million buys a home that is less than 4% of his net worth, while the average citizen buys a $246K house with only a net worth of $68K and less than $10K for retirement?  Which individual is spending money they shouldn't spend?

You have a right to question Dave Ramsey, but lets put things into perspective.  The average individual in our church is overspending much more than someone like Dave Ramsey.

Mark_Smith's picture

You said:

"You have a right to question Dave Ramsey, but lets put things into perspective.  The average individual in our church is overspending much more than someone like Dave Ramsey."

Please reread and reconsider it because there is no way for you to know that. You have NO IDEA how much I or any other Christian spends on things, and you have NO IDEA what Dave Ramsey spends on anything!

There are a couple of problems with your argument in general. Of course a car in the US is better than most anything in Africa, BUT I LIVE IN THE US and my spending should be compared to that. Compare it to my economy. As for a house, the average man makes $50000 per year, but the average house is twice that! Of course the percentage is high. It doesn't mean I am being extravagant, it just means I live in the US.

Second, I make my money teaching people in general. Others work entirely secular jobs. Dave Ramsey makes a lot off of Christians. I suspect primarily Christians. You guys got up in arms over Mark Driscoll making $500,000 a year. What does Ramsey make selling books in Christian book stores, SS curriculum, etc. I don't make my money off of Christians, he does. So, DLCreed is right that he should be evaluated in that light.

I am all for people making good money, and I don't belittle Ramsey at all, but I do think he has a good thing going, and he seems smug about it.

Jim's picture

No need for churches to host Ramsey seminars:

  • Were I a pastor, I wouldn't have my church host one
  • Not that the concepts of financial stewardship / out of debt / et cetera aren't  admirable
  • It's just that the whole thing of finances is really pretty simple:
    • Earn some, save some, give some (could be that one starts out giving 3% and saving 3% ... increasing both to 10% over time ... eg ... every year increase by 1 or 2)
    • Avoid unnecessary debt
    • Don't try to keep up "with the Jones" ... whoever they are!
  • If just one book (a secular one) ... this is the one: Your Money Ratios: 8 Simple Tools for Financial Security at Every Stage of Life / buy it used for as little as 1 ¢
Bert Perry's picture

My take here is that if we are to criticize Ramsey, we need to use Biblical terms, and that term is "lover of money" in 1 Timothy.  Personally, given the examples others have mentioned, I don't want to say that wealth or profits alone is sufficient to prove this.  My guess is that Matthew Henry and others would suggest that being a "lover of money" is more of a pattern of behavior than a number of possessions.  For example, I know of a pastor who played high stakes casino poker with the elders of his church, hid his income from those elders, expelled elders who dared to challenge him on it, greeted a modalist prosperity theologian as a brother on Elephant Room 2, and then said some things suggesting he was at least partially into prosperity theology.  

He's a lover of money, and yes, he's living in a house he bought for two million dollars.  I can't prove that with Ramsey, and Ramsey is right to point out that he's not doing things with debt--that's a key issue with covetousness.

That said, I have one significant difference with Ramsey, and it speaks to his home (s?) and car (s?).  That is, he doesn't do a good job in general talking about the Biblical principles of "covetousness" and "contentment", and how it ought to guide us.  When I reference Ramsey's work, I always mention this as a weakness.

And absent other signs of Ramsey being a lover of money, that's how I address his  13000 square foot mansion, about the size of Solomon's FWIW. Is it really more satisfying to have that space and 14 bathrooms at your disposal (does being rich make a man incontinent?), does it really fit into his business, or is it really all about using one's possessions to show how important a man is?

Where does contentment fit in here?

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

RickyHorton's picture

Where does the idea come from that someone should not make money from selling things to Christians?? 

Mark_Smith's picture

I am NOT criticizing someone for selling things to Christians. 

 

I do think Dave Ramsey is a little smug about his success. That is my opinion. "I work hard and earned it" for example. A lot of people say that. The problem is I know a lot of people who work VERY HARD and have very little in American terms to show for it. I know a lot of people who make $10/hour. How are you going to save on that? Etc...

I just think with Dave Ramsey, whose success is connected with Christians, should be careful about how he lives. Let me say that in general it seems he has.

I am sure John MacArthur, for example, could live in a palatial house just off of his book sales alone. He doesn't. Why?

 

RickyHorton's picture

I wasn't actually responding to one of your posts, Mark.  There were other comments earlier that

  • Critiqued him for making money off of Christians
  • And since he is making money off of Christians we then have the right to critique what he does with his money

I just don't see any Biblical justification for that type of thinking and never have understood where it comes from. 

Bert Perry's picture

RickyHorton wrote:

I wasn't actually responding to one of your posts, Mark.  There were other comments earlier that

  • Critiqued him for making money off of Christians
  • And since he is making money off of Christians we then have the right to critique what he does with his money

I just don't see any Biblical justification for that type of thinking and never have understood where it comes from. 

I would suggest that as Ramsey makes a large portion of his income from church conferences and the like, he has become in effect almost a pastor to many of us, perhaps even myself included.   So here the idea is not the huckster salesman badgering people to buy "because he's a Christian", but rather the teacher using the Scriptures to justify his ideas and sell books and seminars.  So inasmuch as his work is promoted through churches, we ought to hold him to the requirements we would apply to those who would be our pastors, deacons, and elders, no?  We need to ask whether his family is intact and believing (I think yes), whether his teaching his Biblical (my reservation is his lack of teaching on contentment), whether he's given to wine (I don't think so), and the like.  

All in all, I think Ramsey is qualified if the information I have is accurate.  My points of unease are if Shaynus' sources are accurate and not just jealous, the size and cost of his house, and most importantly the question of his lack of teaching on contentment.  It is also worth noting that his biggest achievement in my book is something he gives out for free; seven baby steps to financial freedom.  Crown Financial uses a similar system--I'm not quite sure who had the idea first, if either.

But all in all, since Ramsey uses the Scriptures to teach what he believes God says about finances, we therefore ought to approach him as something of an adjunct pastor, and that does mean that yes, we may take a look at his habits and determine whether he has disqualifying attitudes like the love of money.  Do it with grace, do it with honesty, but I think we should do it.

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

dgszweda's picture

Mark_Smith wrote:

You said:

"You have a right to question Dave Ramsey, but lets put things into perspective.  The average individual in our church is overspending much more than someone like Dave Ramsey."

Please reread and reconsider it because there is no way for you to know that. You have NO IDEA how much I or any other Christian spends on things, and you have NO IDEA what Dave Ramsey spends on anything!

 

Well I have an idea statistically.  The average person, which I would assume many in our church represent, spend about 400% more than their net worth on their house.  I would pretty much guarantee that almost everyone spends more in terms of their net worth or salary than does Dave Ramsey.  I doubt there are many in our church or you included who owns a house in which the fair market value of the house is only 20% of their annual salary.

With that said, I don't necessarily agree that he should build a home like this.  I also agree that he is heavily focused on building wealth, passing money onto generations....  Which I don't align with at all.  We as Christians empower Dave Ramsey with his wealth, because so many people hand over their money to him.  So I don't defend his choices per se, just that we all need to be careful how we throw rocks.  Just because someone in a church makes $100K like everyone else in their SS Class and they have a $350K house, just like everyone else in the church, doesn't make it better.  Sometimes we get stuck into the fact that "hey, we were modest, we didn't buy anything more extravagant than those around us, therefore we are being pragmatic".  When someone comes into the church who buys a $500K house, we all start whispering, or we see another Christian who has a bigger house or spend more money, maybe even money that we think is extravagant and we start throwing rocks.  If this was the case, how could we open a church in a city like Lake Forest, IL, whose average home price is over $1MM.

Bert Perry's picture

This little bit by Mark intrigued me:

The problem is I know a lot of people who work VERY HARD and have very little in American terms to show for it. I know a lot of people who make $10/hour. How are you going to save on that? Etc...

Actually, I know people in Asia who are doing exactly this.  The trick is that you've got to eat a lot of rice and not much meat, live in a smaller apartment (one colleague earning $8/hour was in 1000sf), forgo cable/satellite TV, and keep your lust for clothes, entertainment, and the like in check.  Here are some of the statistics.  Dgszweda is right.  We all have some work to do to rein in our covetousness, starting with me coveting my third big cup of coffee at work today.  :^)

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

RickyHorton's picture

Bert Perry wrote:

But all in all, since Ramsey uses the Scriptures to teach what he believes God says about finances, we therefore ought to approach him as something of an adjunct pastor, and that does mean that yes, we may take a look at his habits and determine whether he has disqualifying attitudes like the love of money.  Do it with grace, do it with honesty, but I think we should do it.

 

In my opinion, that is a bit of a stretch to say we should judge him on this because he is almost a pastor.  Does that mean we need to go to church Sunday and critique whether our Sunday School teachers are living in too large of a house as well?  And where does the idea come from that we should even take issue with a pastor that lives in a house larger than someone thinks he should be living in?  There will always be someone that thinks the house is too large, so where do we draw the line...or should we even be drawing a line on this??  Are we thinking Biblically or emotionally?

Jim's picture

Here's my personal (not deeply theological) take on his house:

  • Firstly (and I am not bragging): I suspect that if some knew where I lived and the value of my own house, they might think I am a "lover of money" as my house is less than small.
  • I really wish I had a smaller house ... a much smaller one. We need 1200 to 1500 sq feet and we are now in 3,000+
  • We are planning that downward move. Shortly aiming for a 2 bedroom condo
  • Also I am aiming to have 1 car. At one time when I had 3 teen drivers we had 4 cars. It's a relief to have kids out of the house and just have 2.  One is worth so relatively little that keeping it is not that much of a bite.
  • I have a brother in law who owns 5 vehicles: Mustang, Vette, Acura, Jeep Grand Cherokee.and 1 more. 
  • Sometime ago (maybe 20 years) I just quit thinking about what others have. 
  • I'm not saying I have conquered materialism but I really don't care if many have much more than I do. 
  • Same with Ramsey ... never read a book of his ... doubt I would ever go to one of his seminars ... but if he has  a hugo house ... I just don't care. 
dgszweda's picture

Bert Perry wrote:

This little bit by Mark intrigued me:

The problem is I know a lot of people who work VERY HARD and have very little in American terms to show for it. I know a lot of people who make $10/hour. How are you going to save on that? Etc...

Actually, I know people in Asia who are doing exactly this.  The trick is that you've got to eat a lot of rice and not much meat, live in a smaller apartment (one colleague earning $8/hour was in 1000sf), forgo cable/satellite TV, and keep your lust for clothes, entertainment, and the like in check.  Here are some of the statistics.  Dgszweda is right.  We all have some work to do to rein in our covetousness, starting with me coveting my third big cup of coffee at work today.  :^)

My dad's favorite saying is that, "people spend money on what they want to spend money on".  My dad is retired and living solely off of a social security check.  He is very frugal and is very happy and lives comfortably off of it.  So much so that he is able to support his hobby of collecting coins and was able to purchase a Corvette.  All while on social security.  After hearing this saying from my dad all those years growing up and watching him now in retirement, I can say that yes, people can save money.  Just as an example, he eats for $8/day with no problem.  He walks down to the local Supermarket every morning and gets a free cup of coffee and then buys a bagel for $1.00.  Some days he will walk down to the McDonalds and get himself a breakfast biscuit and senior coffee for $1.  For lunch he will make himself a sandwich for around $3 or less.  For dinner he picks up a frozen meal and will get a desert that expires the next day for about $4.  He sees this as not scrimping and saving or living tightly.  He just views paying a lot for a meal at a restaurant as a waste of money.  He picks up new outfits all the time for $10-$12.  He pays $8 for a brand new pair of jeans at Walmart and then tries not to spend more than $4 for a brand new shirt.  He doesn't need to have internet, when he can go down to the public library, sit in front of a brand new computer, have high speed internet and get all the help he needs for free.  And it goes on and on.

Mark_Smith's picture

Only Dave Ramsey does!

Why I bought a $100,000 house? Because it was the house we wanted that was not in a crack district, you didn't hear gunshots twice a day. Why is it better than renting? My rent for a 3 bedroom apartment was $200 more per month than the mortgage + insurance + taxes on a 4 bedroom house.

Now, a $100,000 house is 2.5 times my annual salary. Is that OK? Is that extravagant?

A person lives in a 1000 square foot apartment and eats rice. Is that OK? Is that better?

All of this IS NOT THE POINT.

The point is Dave Ramsey "preaches" on the radio to people to get out of debt. He gives them ways and motivation to do so. FINE BY ME. The issue is when Dave acts like he is working hard (compare giving a seminar to digging out sanitation ditches, or working on a trash truck, or roofing houses in 100 degree heat, or changing bed pans at a hospital).  Again. FINE WITH ME. Hey, I work hard too.

The thing is Dave wants to represent Christ in managing money, "preach" to people about it, then act like he is a mere businessman who can build a 14 bathroom house and no one thinks, "is that the best use of a millionaire's money"? Then people defend him saying, "hey, he paid in cash". I bet Joel Osteen did too...

If you read the article that was earlier linked to, the house is twice as big as his neighbor's, the country singer Lee Ann Rimes. It is worth over $10,000,000 on the market. If you care, the house is said to have a full service bar with whiskey barrels built into the wall (I wonder how many Christian readers and listeners know about that!) 

I am sorry, but a man who can build that house, say he is a representative of proper Christian living, doesn't need my money any more, or my time on the radio.

**I have been reading Martin Luther lately. When indulgences came to Germany Luther was livid that the copper coins of the poor were being used to rebuild St Peter's Basilica when the Pope had enough money to pay for it himself. I ask a similar question. Was Dave's 10 million dollar house built with dollars from poor Christians living in trailer parks?

My advice? Stop supporting Dave Ramsey financially, he apparently has enough.

 

Bert Perry's picture

Ricky, take a look at James 3:1, Luther's comments on the extravagance of the Popes in his time, and Mark's most recent note regarding this.  If teachers are judged more strictly by God, then they probably ought to be held accountable by their churches, too.

And along those lines, we ought to take seriously what happens when we have way more than we can ever enjoy.  Abraham and Lot parted ways in part because their herdsmen were fighting over limited pasture--they had more animals than their land could support.  Solomon's kingdom was destroyed because he was not satisfied with the 666 (!?) talents of gold he received in tribute yearly, but levied heavy taxes and created huge inflation ("silver was not considered worth much in those days").    Paying for all those wives, cities, & horses wasn't cheap.  

We ought to consider the same thing with regards to our wealth.  Judge solely by size of house?  No, but a pattern of conspicuous consumption, and the moral compromises needed to sustain it, is a warning that someone might not teach about contentment very well.

By the way, quick note about Ramsey; I just did a Google search on "contentment" and "covetousness" with Ramsey, and he's talking about this.  So modify my earlier comments, and kudos to him for doing so.

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

dgszweda's picture

Mark_Smith wrote:

 

**I have been reading Martin Luther lately. When indulgences came to Germany Luther was livid that the copper coins of the poor were being used to rebuild St Peter's Basilica when the Pope had enough money to pay for it himself. I ask a similar question. Was Dave's 10 million dollar house built with dollars from poor Christians living in trailer parks?

My advice? Stop supporting Dave Ramsey financially, he apparently has enough.

 

Probably built off the backs of poor people, and I agree we shouldn't support him.  First, I don't believe he is defrauding anyone, but come on guys.  Why does this surprise anyone.  He essentially sells for $199, the concept that you shouldn't take out debt and live within your means.  Really!  We need to spend $199 for this advice.  Lots of people hand over money for this advice, and they struggle with him buying a big house.

josh p's picture

I have no opinion of Dave Ramsey since I know almost nothing of his ministry but I do have to comment that there is nothing immoral about making money off of poor people. Wal-mart, K-mart, and a countless other amount of stores and services do so. They don't have to buy it if they don't want. It's called free market for a reason.

Chip Van Emmerik's picture

You know, I keep thinking, "How much is too much?" Who is the arbiter in this debate? Would it be ok if Ramsey only spent 1 million on the house? Or half a million? What if he's using his mansion as a half-way house ministry where local pastors can bring families in distress for short-term housing? Does that make it ok then? I will admit, I could not see myself being comfortable paying that much for a home for my family, but I am not sure I clearly claim from scripture that it is wrong for him to do so. I think I could make a strong argument for wiser use of the money, but clearly wrong - I just don't see it.

Why is it that my voice always seems to be loudest when I am saying the dumbest things?

Don Johnson's picture

I really don't care what Dave Ramsey spends his money on. Not my business, nor my responsibility.

But why did he launch his snarky defense? Why is he so sensitive to criticism? Apparently there was a twitter thing going criticizing him over the house and he launched this highly defensive apologetic. Why did he feel the need to do that? In his piece, he comes across just as he does to me in his radio show and books, as a fairly arrogant person. I think that is what bugs people more than the house.

But in the end, it's his money, he can spend it on whatever he wants.

Maranatha!
Don Johnson
Jer 33.3

Bert Perry's picture

Chip, good thoughts.  My take is that wealth crosses over into "love of money" or "love of prestige" when the owner starts sinning to keep the resources he needs to support his assets, or stops serving Christ because he's spending so much time maintaining those assets.  (which I guess is a sin as well)

I would suggest the "more than you can enjoy" as something of a gut check in this regard.  Not "more than you need", but "more than you can enjoy."  Jesus didn't need a garment woven in one piece, but He had it.  I would bet He may have enjoyed the fact that he didn't get rubbing from seams in that cloth.  On the flip side, He didn't have 100 of them, but one.  100 would not have given Him any more comfort, though, so He apparently had one.  100 would also have relegated the Disciples to being an entourage instead of a ministry team.

I use this analysis when thinking about my "dream $10000 carbon fiber bicycle", for what it's worth.  For a mere ten grand, I could take ten pounds off the weight of my bicycle and have a ride that is as comfortable as....the steel frame bicycle I already have.  Of course, for free, I could take far more than ten pounds off the weight of my bicycle if only I rode it more, and if my bicycle were worth twice what my truck is worth, I'd worry a lot more about it.  So the 1977 LeTour III stays.

Same logic with Ramsey's house, I'd think.  Is it important to his business and ministry, or is it just for showin' off?  Whatever the real number of bathrooms--OK, I made that 14 number up from other big house listings, don't quote it as if it were fact please--that's the question.  Though I must admit that the opulence of his bar indicates that at least that portion of his house isn't for entertaining the "fundagelicals" who made him rich.  At least his guests won't admit it.  

(like the old joke: Protestants don't recognize the Pope, Catholics don't recognize Sola Scriptura, and Baptists don't recognize each other in the liquor store)

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

Susan R's picture

EditorModerator

Fourteen bathrooms. Someone has to clean them. It's like a SAHM's worst nightmare. Smile

My take in a nutshell- how is he going to use (or enjoy, as Bro. Perry said) the house? He says he uses it as a tool to minister, and I have no problem with that. 

Although Mr. Ramsey's answer is abrasive and sarcastic, I enjoyed reading it. I don't have 2.2 billion sitting around, but I feel the same way when someone I don't know and who doesn't know me tries to tell me how to live my life, because it never seems to come from a place of genuine concern. It's usually an attempt at manipulation or self-aggrandizement or just inappropriate venting. I used to respond in a similar vein, but now I tend to just disengage. Some people are tar-babies, and if you touch them, you will be stuck for hours.

Mark_Smith's picture

between Dave Ramsey, Joel Osteen, and Mark Driscoll? 

They all make a lot of money off of the flock.

So, the only difference must be that you agree with Ramsey, and don't agree with Osteen and Driscoll.

Bert Perry's picture

Mark, the difference is that the prosperity theology of Osteen and the abusive behavior of Driscoll are rightly seen as disqualifying sins, whereas the issue with Ramsey is "merely" a house that is for him what a carbon fiber bicycle would be for me.

Maybe someone else, like Shaynus, has something more interesting, but as for me, my question is simply whether it's a ministry tool (can I have a drink, Dave?) or whether it's far more stuff than a man can really enjoy--a burden without a blessing.  I would agree with you that it certainly appears tacky to the middle class clientele of Ramsey's companies.

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

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