To many in America, personal finance from a Christian perspective begins and ends with Dave Ramsey. If you listen to Ramsey long enough, though, you will hear him give a tip of the cap to another man, Larry Burkett. Burkett died in 2003, but his legacy as a leader in the world of Christian personal finance was secure well before his passing.
Who Was Larry Burkett?
Burkett taught many of the same principles that today are heard over the airwaves from Ramsey such as getting out of debt, having an emergency fund, and giving generously. His message was quite simple, but it resonated with millions who read his books and heard his three different radio programs (“Money Matters,” “How to Manage Your Money,” and “MoneyWatch.”). In addition, many others remember his short radio blasts called “A Money Minute,” which focused on personal finance, but covered many related topics as well.
Burkett is probably best remembered for his books, and he was a prolific author. Many do not realize (in fact, I didn’t know this until I researched for this article) that Burkett wrote novels in addition to his financial and leadership writing. All told, Larry Burkett authored or co-authored some 70 volumes, which, according to different sources, have sold around 11-12 million copies worldwide.
To house all of this work, Burkett founded a ministry called Christian Financial Concepts (CFC) in 1976. In 2000, that ministry merged with the well-known Crown Minstries, and the joint work became known as Crown Financial Ministries. Burkett was the CEO until his passing, and the work that Crown does continues to this day, following the same basic concepts Burkett used throughout his life.
Larry Burkett’s Works
While several of Burkett’s works are noteworthy, two books stand out to this author. The first was his 1991 work, The Coming Economic Earthquake. In that volume, Burkett looked at the national debt problem, and the overall economic picture of America. At its most basic level, he was arguing against a nation piling up debt without any real plan to pay it back. He believed that, if the tide was not turned soon, the “earthquake” would occur very early in the 2000s. Burkett, never one to shy away from questioning the government, asked whether or not those in elected positions of power would do anything to stem the tide, and then gave his opinion that they would not.
The other book that stands out to me is one that is along the same line of thinking: Whatever Happened to the American Dream, published in 1993. In this volume, Burkett turned most of the attention away from Washington and toward Main Street. The book was a clear call against laziness and the pursuit of easy money, and a reminder to many Americans that “the good life” does not come without some level of hard work and sacrifice. A firm believer in education (he was a campus minister before founding CFC), Burkett also used this volume to call to Americans to remember the importance of both an education and the ethics that must accompany an honest days’ work.
But Burkett did not just write about “macro-problems,” he dealt often in his works with each individual family and what they needed to do to live by God’s principles for handling money. Books such as Debt-Free Living, Your Finances in Changing Times, and the children’s book What if I Owned Everything continue to be bought and read. They continue to help families gain the proper perspective–the Biblical perspective–for handling money.
Larry Burkett’s Legacy
Burkett’s legacy is seen in sites like the one you are reading. For many years, Christians only talked about money when it came to the subject of giving. Rarely were topics such as investing, spending, or leaving a financial legacy ever discussed in Christian circles. However, the Bible speaks to each of these issues and many other money-related issues, as well. Leaders like Burkett opened many eyes to see that God cares about how we deal with our money in every way, from earning it honestly, to handling it wisely. His work lives on, both in the foundation that is named for him, and in other writers, speakers, bloggers, and personalities who have taken that same message to a vast audience.
If you wish to read more about Larry Burkett, here are some additional resources. Each of these was used in preparation for this short article.
- Larry Burkett: 1939-2003 (Crown Ministries biography)
- Larry Burkett (Wikipedia)
- Amazon.com Larry Burkett home page
- Meet Larry Burkett (ChristianBooks.com bio page)
What do you think about Larry Burkett? Leave a note in the comments section below!
I used to listen to Larry Burkett on the way home from work. What he seemed to express more than others, in my humble opinion, was that while money management was important, serving Christ better through proper stewardship was the aim. I think sometimes the Christian perspective almost takes a backseat sometimes to the nuts and bolts of money management. Larry knew how to keep them balanced and it came across very well. Larry also had a heart of gold (pun intended) when it came to giving away his books and other materials who called in. Nowadays it seems to be all about making money more than helping people. Larry also didn’t dramatize everything, but had a quiet, thoughtful demeanor on the air. Larry, you are sorely missed.
My Financial Life Coach says
I started listening to Larry on the radio when I was 24 years old. My wife and I took his 12 week program and 5 years later we were debt-free including the house. The following year I completed his program and began financial counseling. That was 21 years ago.
Larry’s ministry had a major impact on my life, my family, and all of those who I have coached or counseled through the years. He was a great man of God. Thank you for writing this article as it is a great reminder to be thankful for those who have been faithful in ministry. – Bryan Cooper
I remember Larry’s ministry well and have a couple of his books on my shelf as we speak. Thanks for the reminder Adam.
I listened to Larry on the radio for many, many years and have several of his books. He was right on in his predictions of future events. God blessed him and in turn he blessed others by his vast knowledge. He made financial matters easy to understand and helped me greatly. The world lost a great man when we lost Larry. R.I.P. Larry.
L. Miller says
Larry was a mentor for our family as well. We have 7 of his books on our shelf. The Economic Earthquake in 1991 had the greatest impact on us and caused us to pay off our mortgage early and be completely out of debt. After rereading that book, we believe Larry was predicting just what has been going on in our economy the last few years. We miss him, but are glad Dave Ramsey has picked up on his teachings and added humor as well. The Millers
DARIUS OBONDI says
I pray for Larry’s Ministry to continue with more powers of God to assist the many in aspects of Christianity and financial matters.
I remember listening to Larry Burkett on the radio every morning when my clock radio alarm went off. His budgeting software, Money Matters, was the first we purchased when we started using the computer to help us track our finances. We still use the Crown Financial software today. I enjoyed your article and it was nice to see Mr. Burkett remembered for his many contributions in the area of finances.
D. Hughes says
My husband and I used Mr. Burkett’s tape series to do pre-marital counseling at our Church in the late 80s. About 150 couples passed through our training. The course persuaded several to postpone or cancel wedding plans. One of his most famous challenges: whatever the husband spent on ‘toys’ he must allocate that same allowance to his wife. Those discussions were hilarious.To this day, I run into people who remember and are still grateful for our work with them and Mr. Burkett’s materials.
Ray Clarke says
I bought a copy of Using Your Money Wisely at a second hand book sale just before I read this article. I’ll certainly look for others too
I worked in Christian radio from 1990-2000 and listened to a lot of Larry Burkett since his radio program was on our air. I can still remember his theme music! My wife and I used his financial planning program when we got married in 1992 and it helped us work together on our finances and make a plan to pay off my student loans. Getting those loans (and other consumer debts) off our backs was a tremendous blessing for us because I felt a call to urban ministry four years into our marriage. I quit my job, we reduced our lifestyle, and I began raising missionary support. I don’t think we could have made that transition without the financial wisdom we learned from Larry Burkett.
Brent Pittman says
Adam, I know Dave Ramsey’s head counselor worked as a crown counselor for many years and they use the same core principals taught by Larry Burkett. His work still lives on in many forms and millions are free from debt because of his teachings. Great reminder.
Terry Pratt says
Great post and this is the first PF blog post about Larry Burkett I think I’ve ever seen in several years of reading PF blogs, so Congratulations.
In the early 1980s I was listening to his short-short radio feature (two minutes?) on a Christian radio station.
I think Larry Burkett was a very wise man teaching God’s financial plans for us to live debt free.
Now that my brother, Chuck Bentley, is CEO of Crown Financial Ministries (the great organization that Larry founded) I pray that those who loved Larry will continue their support of Crown. They still offer literature, books, videos, etc to help people nationwide. Your prayers and support are appreciated. Thank you for this article on a great man that Chuck really respected as do many others.
Larry Burkett sure has left a very nice legacy and one in which we can all learn from and that’s managing financial matters wisely in a christian perspective.
Abbie Lynn Juett says
I am looking to purchase Larry Burkett’s computer software program for budgeting my very small income to pay my bills in a timely fashion and get out of debut at the same time. How do I find this program to purchase and put on a computer? Is there a version I can put on my Android phone and work my daily and monthly budget from it?
Thank you for your assistance.
Abbie Lynn Juett