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Rock Hero: Dave Wessels - June 2010
By Anita Palmer - June 17, 2010

They didn't know it at the time, but when Dave and Janet Wessels bought a beautiful home in Ohio, they were breaking RFL Core Financial Principle #8.

The Wesselses presumed they would always have two incomes. The size of the house--and its mortgage--reflected that assumption. But then another baby came along, and they decided that one parent should stay home. Suddenly one income was gone. Uh oh.

They had broken the principle, “Don’t gamble on presumption."

Because of that, they "were locked into that mortgage,” recalled Dave, the energetic founder of the Rock Church's Financial Life ministry, or RFL. "We were handcuffed."

“That’s the biggest problem we see" as RFL counselors, says Dave, who started the ministry in 2004. "People get into a long-term financial situation they can’t easily fix.”

Helping Christians fix their bad financial situations—or avoid them—is Dave’s passion. He believes so strongly in RFL that he donates at least 15 hours a week to it on top of his full-time career as a manager at an IT company.

Dave and his leadership team have taught the ministry's flagship course, "Adopting God's Principles for Handling Money," 32 times, reaching an estimated 6,000 to 7,000 people. The Rock pastoral leadership believes the material is so important that the course is one of the four core classes required for membership in the Rock Church A.R.M.Y. Pastor Miles and Debbie McPherson attended in 2008.

Why is a church involved in teaching about money?

"We need to be not only biblically literate, but financially literate too. The fact is, the Bible has more to say about money than any other topic!" said Dave, pointing out that the Bible has fewer than 500 verses on faith and about 500 verses on prayer, and more than 2,350 verses on money.

"Clearly, God has a lot to say on the topic. But American Christians aren't listening." Dave shakes his head. "I've seen Christians who profess Christ but live their lives chasing mammon--stuff. I've seen countless 'good Christian marriages' that are in pursuit of money which has impacted their walk, their marriage, their kids..."

"God wants us to be free--free to do what God has called and equipped us to do."

100 Books on Finance

Core Financial Principles

  1. Direction, Not Intention, Determines Destination
  2. Every Spending Decision is a Spiritual Decision
  3. Giving is Opportunity, Not Obligation
  4. Live Today for That Day
  5. Give First, Save Second, Live on the Rest
  6. Don’t Chase Income with Lifestyle
  7. Debt Steals
  8. Don’t Gamble on Presumption
  9. Financial Infidelity Destroys Relationships
  10. Choose Influence over Affluence
  11. Giving is Kingdom Investing
  12. Finish Well, Starting Now

Core Financial Practices

  1. Track Every Dollar Every Day
  2. Establish Godly Goals
  3. Live on Purpose – Budget
  4. Destroy Debt

“My parents never taught me how to handle money,” Dave said. “I know how people are bound by financial worries. We got free.”

Dave and Janet Wessels met at The Ohio State University, where Dave studied business and computer science. With Janet active in the Navy, they were stationed in the 80s in San Diego. They loved it so much that they moved here permanently in 1997.

Before relocating, though, friends invited them to a church “with a funny name.” Both Dave and Janet had been raised nominal Roman Catholics. Now for the first time they heard a pastor preach from the Bible. Soon afterwards, they committed their lives to Christ.

During the period of intense growth that followed, Dave began to understand that the Bible had a lot to say about how we are to approach the issue of money. He started studying what experts taught, reading an estimated 100 books on finance.

He and Janet grew to realize that even though they had been “reasonably disciplined” about their finances, they had been handcuffed by bad decisions--like the one they made concerning their big Ohio house.

Housing is often the biggest source of financial problems -- “often it has to do with having more house than they can handle.”

Even if people can cover the big stuff, “there’s nothing left for the kingdom,” said Dave.

Heart Change, then Habit Change

Now the Wesselses live way below their means, so that they can give to the kingdom, which is RFL core principle #11.

"The consumer culture doesn’t affect us any more," he said. "We're no longer under the tyranny of stuff. God set us free from that bondage."

"People need to surrender this area of their lives to God," said Janet. “It’s a heart change, then a habit change. They go hand in hand.”

Dave has shaped the Rock Financial Life Ministry to help the Rock Church family learn the biblical way to handle money and possessions. RFL does this through regular course teaching, weekly walk-in counseling opportunities, individual budget coaching, and occasional financial seminars.

He emphasizes that RFL consists of a dedicated team of volunteer financial counselors and RFL course teachers. They include Danny Alvarez, Scott Broberg, Gilda Chan, Don Cunningham, Trevin Epp, Erica Gardner, Rick Nelson, Beth Schubert, Desmond Wong, Jon Wrinkle, and Rock Church staffers Susan and Kyle Kennedy.

Since God owns every penny, teaches Dave, "every spending decision is a spiritual decision."

That's RFL core principle #2. And here's #7: "Debt steals – steals your life, your options, your legacy, and your spiritual health."

"When you learn to apply the RFL principles, you get your life back," said Dave.

Congratulations, Dave Wessels, Rock Hero for June 2010!

For more information about the Finance Ministry, click here »