How Leaders Can Learn from A Couple who Paid Off $127K in Debt

This is a guest post by Cherie Lowe, the author of “Slaying the Debt Dragon: How One Family Conquered Their Money Monster and Found an Inspired Happily Ever After“. With her husband, Brian, Cherie paid off $127,482.30 in a little under four years. She scribed the ups and downs of their debt-slaying journey on her popular website, Join her on TwitterFacebook, or Pinterest to find practical, money-saving tips. 

I’m a podcast listening, conference going, read every book I can get my hands on, certified leadership junkie. I want to know how to be the best leader I can be in my home, my community, my congregation, and the world. My heart lights up when I read words like:

“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.” – John Quincy Adams

What a high and divine calling to be a leader, to breathe life into others, to outline their gifts and passions and see God come alive in their story, to guide, encourage, listen, and then cast vision to change the world.

I mean, does it get any better than that?

Because of our story of paying off $127K in debt, people often open up their financial lives to me. Oh so many of those people are natural born leaders, gifted with the ability to communicate, motivate, and capture hearts for a movement greater than themselves. But here’s the catch. Through either poor choices, lack of guidance, or sometimes just bum luck these gifted change makers find themselves stretched to their limits, nearly swallowed alive by debt, barely making ends meet.

Debt is paralyzing for leaders. It keeps us from obtaining God-given goals, allowing dreams to die. A unique temptation plagues leaders, too. With big dreams can come big price tags, complicating an already messy money situation. We buy into the lie that to make money or change, we have to spend money.

Leaders need their hands, their feet, their hearts and minds freed in order to step into their mission.

But debt, it binds us.

Occupies our minds, decreasing focus and productivity.

Gags us from speaking into the lives of other people.

Limits the ability to be generous.

Locks us into jobs that we hate.

Plagues our bodies with stress.

Haunts our sleep.

Unsettles our souls.

Stop for just one minute. Take a deep breath. Concentrate on what your life would like without any debt. How many extra dollars would you have each month? What could you do with that money to change the world? Close your eyes. See the faces of the people who need you to dump your debt.

Sure, there are personal benefits to paying off debt. There’s more margin to breathe, more money to do fun stuff, more toys, a solid financial future for your kids and your retirement.

But what if paying off debt had nothing to do with you at all? What if it was all about the people you are leading? How would their lives change if you were not stressed about money? How would your home, your community, your congregation, your world all look, feel, and act differently if you were debt free?

Your people, they need you. Your tribe, they long for you to be an unbound and free leader. This world, it aches for the reconciliation of all things to their Creator. It aches for freedom.

I won’t lie, the battle of Slaying Your Debt Dragon is arduous, filled with danger at every corner. I’m a firm believer that paying off debt is not complex, it’s just not easy.

But leaders? They are built to do what’s not easy. They are called to the impossible and see beyond what is unheard of.

The author Neil Gaiman paraphrased my homeboy G.K. Chesterton so eloquently when he said, “Fairy tales are more than true: not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us dragons can be beaten.”

Your dragons can be slain. You and your people can be freed. And the God of the universe who keeps the planets spinning and knows the number of every hair on your head is unafraid of the current status of your checking account and loves you all the same. Plus, He is your biggest fan.

Be a brave warrior. Do what you do best. Lead.