Dave Ramsey: Building Unity (Notes from Catalyst)

Dave Ramsey is an American entrepreneur whose work brings financial freedom to people in all walks of life. He began his talk by speaking about the Belgian Plow Horse.


You see, this amazing horse can pull 8,000 lbs. on it’s own. But if you take two of them, who have never met before and team them up, they can pull 24,000 lbs. together. Somehow, through their teamwork, their immediately able to do the work that most people would have assumed would require three horses. The really amazing thing is, when those two horses are a matched pair, they are fairly similarly, know each other, etc. they’re able to pull 32,000 lbs. That’s 4x the work that one can do!

Now the whole world had one language and a common speech. As people moved eastward, they found a plain in Shinar and settled there. They said to each other, “Come, let’s make bricks and bake them thoroughly.” They used brick instead of stone, and tar for mortar. Then they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city, with a tower that reaches to the heavens, so that we may make a name for ourselves; otherwise we will be scattered over the face of the whole earth.” But the Lord came down to see the city and the tower the people were building. The Lord said, “If as one people speaking the same language they have begun to do this, then nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them. Come, let us go down and confuse their language so they will not understand each other.” So the Lord scattered them from there over all the earth, and they stopped building the city. That is why it was called Babel—because there the Lord confused the language of the whole world. From there the Lord scattered them over the face of the whole earth. (Genesis 11:1-9)

The remarkable thing about this verse is that the Lord said, “If as one people speaking the same language they have begun to do this, then nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them.” God says that nothing is impossible for us when we act in uncommon fellowship. In this story, we see that the people who settled in Shinar started worshipping what God gave us (like the ability to build a tower that reaches to the heavens) rather than worship the God who made all things possible for us.

Unity and uncommon fellowship is not a natural occurrence, it is from intentionality. Dave Ramsey outlined 5 enemies of this over his time as an organizational and spiritual leader.

  1. Poor Communication
    1. Learned from Andy Stanley, repetition is key as leader. Tell them until they are annoyed with you telling them, because then you know they know. Then, remind them.
    2. Cast vision, and spend a tremendous amount of time and energy as a leader communicating that vision.
      1. Sit down together, invest in breaking bread with each other (you wouldn’t believe, he said, they amount they spend on people eating together)
      2. Organizations move at the speed of the trust we’ve built
  2. Gossip
    1. Why do people who pee in their cereal gripe about the taste?
    2. Psalm 34:14 “Keep your tongue from evil And your lips from speaking deceit.”
    3. Real complaints have a responsibility to be taken to leadership, but you also have a responsibility to be part of the solution.
  3. Unresolved Disagreement
    1. Leaders pull, bosses push
      1. We don’t push people to where we want to be, we go and pull them to where we are
      2. You might not like each other, but you need to trust each other
      3. Disagreements distract us from the goal
  4. Lack of Shared Purpose
    1. When we drop the ball, anyone on the team can pick up the ball because we all know where we go.
      1. Most of the time, if we have 12 people, we have 12 agendas which creates tension and confused priorities.
  5. Sanctioned Incompetence
    1. If you allow incompetence or non-compliance, you demotivate your whole team.
      1. Whether they are volunteers or employees, excellence is the standard. By not dealing with those who don’t meet the standard, you are encouraging it. Misbehavior then gets worse and hurts everyone.
      2. To be unclear is to be unkind.
        1. Example: A old guy who was being too much of a hugger and was creeping everyone out. As soon as it was brought to his attention, he confronted the issue. “Stop doing that, you’re being a creeper.” “It’s how I am.” His response? “Change.” Why? Because behavior, like being a creeper, is a decision and it’s not okay.

These are spiritual issues. If you adopt these as guides for leadership and enforce them, then your team will adopt it and remind you of it when the team fails to meet those expectations.

Vocation and the Laity, Works and Grace, Luther and De Sales

Luther’s foundational belief was that we are saved only by the grace of God, not by our works as the Church had come to emphasize in his time. This meant that the individual had a direct line to God through which God’s grace was extended, not via the ecclesiastical system but through Jesus himself. Additionally, Luther argued that almost all “callings” had equal value through faith before God (a few vocations are excluded from this). In other words, we are all Christians and there doesn’t need to be and shouldn’t be a division between the spiritual and temporal: that’s why he condemned the monastic vows and commended life outside the isolation of the monastery. It doesn’t matter what one does but how it is done: to love other’s within their calling.

Francis De Sales was a Catholic who affirmed many of the ideas of faith in the ordinary life instead of the monastic pursuit. He oriented around simple steps of devotion anyone could take and like Luther, it was based on the idea that the foundation of this was love. He explained that it wasn’t as hard to get to heaven as many were told, and that it was more a series of steps toward purification and growth than maintenance of that state. This deviates from Luther, I believe, in being more works based than grace based but still has much more grace in it than I think they were used to at this point. Francis was totally confident in the redeemable nature of humans and God’s overflowing love, that we have a natural drive towards this love. Francis saw nature and grace as a merged attribute. Finally, Francis De Sales does tend to come across as a path that seems more about the individual than Luther, with charity being more surface and compassion having less depth. This is a first impression. I think this would be difficult to really discern without further research.

As I read about Francis De Sales I can see why it appeared more people turned to monastic callings from his teachings than Luther’s. Francis seems less concerned about division from each other and God and more concerned about the journey toward God. Luther seemed much more concerned about the division he saw for some people between God and those people, because of the journey of other’s towards God (in other words, the monastic and ecclesiastic groups within the Catholic Church).