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Shooting the Sacred Cows

Zig Ziglar often tells the story of the time he won a prized country ham in a sales contest.

When he got home, he handed the beautiful ham to his wife, Jean. She immediately cut the end off the ham and placed it in a pan.

Zig asked his wife, "Why did you cut the end off my prized ham?"

"Well, that’s how you bake them," Jean responded. "That’s how my mama cooked a ham."

"Why did your mama do it that way?"

"I’m not sure," Jean said. "Let’s call Mama and ask her."

So Zig and Jean called Mama. "Well, my mama always did it that way," she said.

So Zig and Jean called Granny.

"Granny," Jean asked, "why do you always cut the end off the ham? Zig says I shouldn’t do it that way. Mom says she cut the ham because you always cut the ham. I did it because she did it. Nobody knows why we do this. So why did you cut the end off the ham?"

"Well," Granny responded, "I don’t know why you two did it, but my pan was too short!"


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Sound familiar? Sometimes we get so caught up in processes and traditions that we don’t even consider why we use them in the first place. That’s just stupid.

Around Dave Ramsey’s office, we have a saying: "Shoot the sacred cows."

You are probably familiar with this principle. But, if not, the idea is simply this: Don’t hold on to tradition for the sake of tradition. If something isn’t working, change it. If something is broken, fix it.

Obey the principles, not the processes.

Dave guides his organization with unflinching principles. But he won’t hesitate to change a process and shake things up if this helps equip the company to more effectively carry out these principles.

Just like for-profit companies—and ham-baking methods—churches can get caught up in doing things a certain way "because that’s how they’ve always been done." That’s a shame.

Jesus was all about change. He shook things up and messed with people’s priorities. He came into a world that was saturated with custom and tradition and totally revolutionized a faith. He changed the way the world viewed God forever. So why do we cling to tradition? What’s the point?

Of course, there’s nothing wrong with traditions or processes. But we’ve got issues when we begin prioritizing the processes more than the principles that created those processes in the first place. Effective leaders know how to separate the meaningful from the madness.

So what’s your story? Have you been using the same faulty budget for years? Still using credit cards simply because you’ve always used credit cards? Did you take out a 30-year loan because that’s just what you’re "supposed" to do? Think about your decisions—whether with money or anything else! Do they make sense?

Figure out where the sacred cows are in your life, your church, your business, and take them out. Get rid of them for good!

Learn about Dave's program, Ramsey+ for Churches, just for church leaders like you.

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Ramsey Solutions

About the author

Ramsey Solutions

Ramsey Solutions has been committed to helping people regain control of their money, build wealth, grow their leadership skills, and enhance their lives through personal development since 1992. Millions of people have used our financial advice through 22 books (including 12 national bestsellers) published by Ramsey Press, as well as two syndicated radio shows and 10 podcasts, which have over 17 million weekly listeners. Learn More.

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