“There are two types of people in the world.”
I bet you have an image already popping up in your mind. Two types of people…
Pepsi or Coke? Apple or Android? Coffee or tea? Squeeze the toothpaste from the middle or painstakingly from the end?
While I enjoy clever infographics about the basic things we consider polar opposites (like on 2kindsofpeople.tumblr.com), obviously the world isn’t quite so cut and dried. For example, I like coffee and tea, and I have a Mac and a PC. Sacrilege, I know.
This weekend I learned about another set of “two types of people” while reading Lysa Terkeurst’s book Uninvited: there are those with the Scarcity Mentality and those with the Abundance Mentality. I’m going to go ahead and quote a quote — Lysa discovered scarcity thinking in Stephen Covey’s Book 7 Habits of Highly Effective People:
“Most people are deeply scripted in what I call the Scarcity Mentality. They see life as only having so much, as though there were only one pie out there. And if someone were to get a big piece of the pie, it would mean less for everyone.”
Due to certain political events, my mind immediately jumped to the GOP candidate Donald Trump. Everything the man says or does shows that he thinks life is one big pie, and he needs to get the biggest piece. He’s known for ridiculing those with whom he is competing, and for rarely praising anyone but himself and those who make him look good. This isn’t a political diatribe, it’s just how the man functions. I could name 10 similar celebrities who are so concerned about their own recognition that they are willing to put down other people to get what they feel they deserve.
The other kind of person has an Abundance Mentality. Here’s what Stephen Covey says about them:
“The Abundance Mentality, on the other hand, flows out of a deep inner sense of personal worth and security. It is the paradigm that there is plenty out there and enough to spare for everybody. It results in sharing of prestige, of recognition, of profits, of decision making. It opens possibilities, options, alternatives, and creativity.”
The man that immediately jumped to my mind stands in stark contrast to Mr. Trump. He’s newly popular, and strangely so as his claim to fame is writing a Broadway musical (not a mainstream source of entertainment) about a Founding Father (not a usual subject for entertainment) … and it’s hip-hop. Aka, not even a mainstream Broadway style. But somehow, Hamilton worked and is incredible, highly acclaimed, and wildly popular, largely due to the affability of composer Lin-Manuel Miranda. He is known for being incredibly kind and generous in giving credit where credit is due. Let’s look at this twitter “war” that occurred just today in reference to a bit of promotional video (such perfect timing, I thank you sir):
And trust me, this is not an unusual occurrence. What’s the difference between these two men? Both hugely successful, both getting lots of recognition, but one begs for it and the other gives it away. I’ll tell you the difference: one places his worth in riches and recognition, the other places his worth in himself and his craft.
We’ve seen this play out with little children who have just been told they’re going to have a baby brother or sister. At first they might get excited about the new baby and look forward to having someone to play with, but at some point, you’ll likely find that child looking concerned, and maybe starting to cry. You ask him, “what’s wrong?” and he’ll say something like “will Mommy and Daddy still love me when the new baby comes?” He’s operating on the “there’s only so much love to have” scarcity mentality. He doesn’t realize that when it comes to love, there is no shortage in a (good) Mommy or Daddy’s heart.
How often do I doubt God’s love? I mean, Mommies and Daddies are wonderful, and mine especially are so incredibly loving — but they’re finite. They’re human. They mess up, and quite frankly, could run out of love. But God? He is love. And do you know what he says about me?
“I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore I have continued my faithfulness to you.” (Jeremiah 31:3)
Want to know just how that love is played out? Read the entirety of Psalm 104, I dare you. As a Christian, you cannot come out the other side feeling unloved.
Are you getting the idea of scarcity versus abundance? Scarcity thinking forces you to either boost up your own ego, desperate for all the attention you can possibly get, or else you feel rejected and give up before even trying. Abundance thinking allows you to acknowledge another’s accomplishments because, “Hey, you’re loved? Cool! I can be loved too! And so can that guy over there!” And when we consider that our foundation is in an infinite, all-powerful God’s love, we have no excuse for scarcity thinking.
So now the question is, where in my own life have I been thinking that there’s not enough __________ to go around, when in reality there’s enough for everybody?
How about when I don’t want to play the piano at church because everyone else is so much better?
How about when a friend is an excellent trained writer with lots of followers and all I’ve got is this blog? How dare I dream of including writing in my career path?
How about when I choose not to give to the needy because I might not have enough for myself? Even though my God says,
“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?” (Matthew 6:25-27)
How about when I see that God loves and blesses a friend so much that I worry I’ll never get the same?
Friends, I don’t know about you, but I have a major Scarcity Mentality and my thinking needs to change. Here are some ways I’ve come across to help give me an Abundance Mentality:
- Encourage someone else. Lift them up with your words; praise them for a job well done.
- Give. Give more than you think you can. You’ll learn that God is not poor, nor is He stingy.
- Fill a need, even if you’re not the best. For me this means playing a church offertory to give someone else a break. Or teaching a lesson to kids on Wednesday night. Or driving someone to the airport even though my car is, well, kind of junk.
- Smile. Ask questions. Be concerned. Show a little Jesus love to every person you meet.
- Count your blessings. No, I mean literally. I have very little sense of decorating style, so my walls are covered with pictures of good friends and good times as a constant reminder that I am loved.
This isn’t something you can rely on other people to do for you. No, YOU are the man. You’ve got this, because an all-powerful God is right behind you giving you strength. I believe in HIM, so I believe in YOU.