ABUNDANCE OR SCARCITY: WHICH WILL IT BE?

In Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen Covey compared two attitudes. First, the “Scarcity Mentality” depicts the world as a pie–although Covey failed to delineate whether the pie was apple, peach, or chocolate. Rather, Covey described this pie as finite. Therefore, if one person receives a larger piece of the pie, everyone else gets a smaller slice–regardless of flavor. Again, Covey omitted whether a smaller piece would merit an extra scoop of ice cream as compensation.

On the other hand, the “Abundance Mentality” holds that “there is plenty out there for everybody.” According to Covey, the “Abundance Mentality” pie is capable of infinite expansion and able to accommodate fickle palates yearning for exotic flavors, including a scoop or two of frozen delight on top. 

SPOILER ALERT: The Bible supports the “Abundance Mentality.” In Psalm 50, God claims ownership of the “world…and all it contains,” including “the cattle on a thousand hills.” Thus, God is able to supply an ever-expanding quantity and variety of needs.

Dr. Luke also admonished God’s people to embrace the “Abundance Mentality.” “Give, and it will be given to you. They will pour into your lap a good measure–pressed down, shaken together, and running over. For by your standard of measure it will be measured to you in return.” (Luke 6:38 NASB)

Recently, I’ve been pondering the irony that I, a recipient of God’s generosity (physically, spiritually, and financially), find generosity to be such a challenge. I hear myself lamenting about a perpetual Proverbs 23:5 case of the shorts: “…wealth certainly makes itself wings like an eagle that flies toward the heavens.” 

Over the years, I’ve observed others who share my angst–even ministers and other Christian leaders who have exercised great faith to launch churches or other ministries, yet they have somehow become tight-fisted with their resources. “We can’t afford to give to another ministry,” they bemoan. “We’re struggling to raise funds to support OUR ministry.” 

In 1 Kings 17, the widow of Zarephath raised the same argument when God’s prophet showed up and asked for a taste of her last slither of pie (It wasn’t really pie, but why let the facts interfere with a good storyline?). Elijah encouraged the widow to look past her scarcity and view the world with a new attitude–the “Abundance Mentality.” That’s when God went to work and expanded her pie far beyond comprehension. 

God doesn’t always expect us to give our last dollar or slither of pie, but sometimes our minds play tricks on us. A voice whispers, “You’ve seen your last slice of pie, and forget that scoop of ice cream!” The “Scarcity Mentality” can make that small donation we’re considering appear capable of sinking our financial ship. 

If I understand the Bible correctly, God’s pie is big enough to replace that morsel I shared with someone else–including the ice cream on top. In God’s economy, the giver receives the bigger blessing (Acts 20:35). Ralph Waldo Emerson observed, “Give of yourself. Give not till it hurts, give till it feels good.” 

Bart Cannon, Business Strategist

NAUMS, Inc.

Covey, Stephen R. (1989), Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, New York: Simon and Schuster, p. 219-220.

“Ralph Waldo Emerson,” www.biography.com, Retrieved 2/18/20.

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