Recently I realized I was talking with someone who had a scarcity mindset, and it caught me off guard—in part because that’s exactly the way I used to think. A scarcity mindset believes that there just isn’t enough. It believes that one day (but not now) we might be good enough or rich enough, or have enough free time to do what’s most important to us and impactful for world. Those of us in ministry are especially susceptible to this very contagious disease.
A scarcity mindset is self-limiting. It believes that what I have to give now isn’t enough to make a difference, so why bother giving anything at all. A scarcity mindset also impacts how we view ourselves. We might, in a false humility, bury our gifts and passions because we’re afraid that if we stand up we’ll stand out and get rejected—we’re afraid of failure (and, if we’re honest, of success). Because we believe we are not enough, we believe our gifts are not good enough.
This scarcity mindset is so destructive because it is half true. We do have limits: limits on our time, our talent, and our treasure. This becomes obvious when we consider the needs and opportunities each of us is aware of. Our limits are real, but our limitations are not. Remember the feeding of the 5,000? I suspect Jesus could not have feed the crowd if the boy hadn’t offered his fish and loves. What the boy offered wasn’t enough in one sense, but was exactly what was needed in another.
We might call this an abundance on a budget mindset. How can we develop this mindset? Let me suggest three practices. Some of these might feel pretty tough for you right now, so let me suggest that you just give them a try for the next 90 days and see what happens.
- Pray for the Gifts of the Holy Spirit: When you look at today (or week, or month, or year), simply pray for the gifts of the Holy Spirit for the work that is known and unknown. Our ministry is a participation in and partnership with God in HIS mission. When we pray, the Holy Spirit gives us the gifts we need for our true vocation. Then we can do our work with generosity and boldness for God’s glory. You should expect to move into areas and opportunities that stretch you. To oscillate like Peter between fear of the waters and faith in Christ. It won’t be perfect and it doesn’t have to be—but for the next 90 days just ask for the gifts of the Holy Spirit for the known and unknown work (Proverbs 3:5-6).
- Keep the Sabbath: Take one full day a week to stop working, to free yourself from the shackles of your phone and email and Facebook. Instead, do what really renews you and leaves you feeling refreshed. Spend the time abiding: abide in silence and solitude, abide with those you love, abide with Christ (John 15:5). Let the snow globe of your mind settle, and don’t be surprised when your most important concerns and dreams rise to the surface. Setting aside a full day can be a real sacrifice especially if you’re going 24/7. So, just try it for 90 days. You may find, like my family did, that we’re way too busy NOT to keep the Sabbath.
- Tithe: Invest 10% of your income to support your local parish, to give alms to those in need in your community, and to support missions across the globe. God is your provider—and often gives through you to others in unexpected ways. Again, this might be a real sacrifice for you, especially if you’re having a hard time making ends meet. So remember the widow’s mite, and if you’re willing, just try it for 90 days. It’s not uncommon to receive exactly what you need when you need it—as you become a steward of God’s resources.
These practices can make space for an abundance mindset to take root and grow. You might be surprised by how this will impact every area of your life in the most unexpected ways. You might find you compare yourself to others less—you don’t feel diminished by their success. You might find that acceptance, gratitude, and peace will begin play in the background of your life. You might find yourself serving God and others with cheerfulness and generosity you didn’t think you had to give. Your ministry might become more fruitful. At the most unexpected times you might be filled with joy.
Our limits are real, but our limitations are not. Make room for an abundance mindset to take root and grow with your talents by praying for the gifts of the Holy Spirit; with your time by keeping the Sabbath, and with your treasure by investing your tithe in God’s Kingdom.