Scarcity vs. Abundance Mindset

To reference what’s going on right now in our world right now, we are in the midst of the worldwide pandemic COVID 19. We, in America, are asked to practice social distancing and to stay home as much as possible. This virus is incredibly contagious and has the risk of overwhelming our medical system. This has caused a panic, leading to a shortage to resources such as food and hygiene products.

We, as a nation, are operating in a scarcity mentality. This is driven by the fear that we will not have enough. This, though, is not a new or unique mentality of us to adopt. We often focus on what is wrong with our lives, what we don’t have, and how we would be happy if we could just grasp this one other thing. We operate with the idea that our resources are not just limited, but we are doing everything we can to possibly maximize these resources.  

This is contrasted by the abundance mentality. This is where we recognize what is good in our lives. We recognize the goodness, mercies, fullness, and grace in our lives. It is seeing what is rather than what is not, what I have rather than what I lack, who I belong to rather than who I am not.

Both these mentalities can be seen clearly in Matthew 14. The chapter begins with the imprisonment and beheading of John the Baptist.

Now when Jesus heard about John, He withdrew from there in a boat to a secluded place by Himself; and when the people heard of this, they followed Him on foot from the cities. When He went ashore, He saw a large crowd, and felt compassion for them and healed their sick. When it was evening, the disciples came to Him and said, “This place is desolate and the hour is already late; so send the crowds away, that they may go into the villages and buy food for themselves.” But Jesus said to them, “They do not need to go away; you give them something to eat!” They said to Him, “We have here only five loaves and two fish.” And He said, “Bring them here to Me.” Ordering the people to sit down on the grass, He took the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up toward heaven, He blessed the food, and breaking the loaves He gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds, and they all ate and were satisfied. They picked up what was left over of the broken pieces, twelve full baskets. There were about five thousand men who ate, besides women and children. (Matthew 14:13-21)

First, do not skim past verse 13. Jesus just found out His friend died. He was hurt. He was looking for a place of solitude. He was looking to disconnect from the twelve men He was closest to. This would have been completely understandable. Whenever I have been hit with tragedy, I have looked to remove myself from others. What happened though was that people heard he was close, and a crowd came to Him. He was looking to be alone instead up to ten thousand people we around Him. Think about that. Think how you would react to that. All you need is a little time to yourself and what you get is a small city asking you to speak and heal and perform miracles. The person operating with the scarcity mentality would say that they don’t have time to help everyone. That they don’t have the energy to help everyone. That they need some me time. How did Jesus react? With compassion. He rolled up his sleeves and got to work. He took this as an opportunity to help. He took this as an opportunity to heal. He took this as an opportunity for Kingdom work.

So now it was getting late and his disciples said, we must get these people home, because we don’t have enough food for everyone. They focused on what they were lacking. Jesus instead focused on what they had.

Jesus showed us what living an abundant lifestyle looks like.

The scarcity mentality will breed a life of fear and anxiety. So how do we turn a life of scarcity to the abundant life Jesus promises?

The Father invites us to a share in His kingdom where there is abundance. A scarcity mentality is not for a disciple of Jesus. He wants us to have a stewardship mentality. A mentality that the Father has generously put into our hands all that we need.

Now the truth is, moving from a scarcity mindset to living abundantly is not easy. It is difficult to apply to your daily life. I find myself saying every day that I don’t have enough time, that I don’t have enough money, that I don’t have enough energy.  

Like anything in life, we must break bad habits and form new ones, and this takes time and effort. We first must ask ourselves in what aspects of life are you operating in a scarcity? What areas do we have a hard time giving instead of hoarding?  Next, how are we going to change those areas?

First, get out of your comfort zone. This doesn’t mean become reckless, but don’t be afraid to take a risk. An abundance mindset is fueled by the belief that there are plenty of potential paths available to you – be it job progression, creative outlets, or personal growth.

Don’t set limitations on your resources. When we set limitations on what we have, we will always fear running out. When you live in abundance, you live with a mindset that there is enough for everyone. And what you don’t have now that you need, God will give to you.

Share yourself. Those who live in scarcity are less likely to share ideas, fearful that someone else will take the idea and get credit for it. They may not allow someone to get close to them in fear that that they may be rejected. Sharing yourself abundantly will lead to healthier relationships with those around you, and sharing yourself with the Father will lead to a healthier relationship with Him.

Change the definition of success. Those in a scarcity mindset are driven by fear of failure. They will see any setback as a failure. When you are driven by belief in future success, you look at a setback as just another opportunity to succeed.

Take responsibility. A scarcity mindset will always find someone else to blame. Success is theirs but failure has a list of owners. Those with an abundance mindset are willing to take responsibility for their actions. They will look at the consequence as another opportunity.

Scarcity comes from a place of fear. Scarcity comes from a negative space. Scarcity keeps you from Jesus and His blessings. We are not meant to hold on to these things. We are meant to lean into Him when we feel that we don’t have enough. His yoke is easy and the burden He gives you is light. Do you believe that? I hope you do.