Scarcity

I was having a conversation with one of our small group coaches today about how to develop additional leaders in the church. As she was sharing some of her observations as a coach, I was reminded of a term so eloquently coined by author Steven Covey in his book 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. Without using Covey’s terminology, what she was describing is what Covey outlines in his book, as he describes the difference between living out of an “abundance mentality” vs. living out of a “scarcity mentality”. However, in this conversation what she was conceptualizing was Covey’s ideas in the context of the church and specifically to a viewpoint held by many within our ministry.

Like it or not, it’s a problem that pervades the church and most organizations and people don’t even realize that they are operating out of it. And it affects the way they think, they way they view people and the way they orient to our world.

People with a “scarcity mentality” tend to see everything in terms of win-lose. They believe there is only so much to go around, so they hold on to things, people, money, staff, and relationships with clinched fists. Whereas people with an “abundance mentality” tend to see everything in terms of win-win. People with an “abundance mentality” are genuinely more happy for the successes, well-being, achievements, recognition, and good fortune of others. They go out of their way to speak well of others, to help others, to elevate others, because they truly believe their success adds to — rather than detracts from their ambitions and goals.

As Covey notes, there are some stark differences between the two mentalities. Here are a few:

Scarcity – Believes there is not enough blessing to go around
Abundance – Believes there is more than enough blessing to go around
Scarcity – Believes I have to succeed and make sure that I look good
Abundance – Believes that if I succeed and you succeed, then we all succeed
Scarcity – Believes that you have all of the answers
Abundance – Believes that I don’t have all of the answers
Scarcity – Believes you have to have clinched fists
Abundance – Believes in having open hands
Scarcity – Believes in dictatorship and micro-management
Abundance – Believes in operating with openness and trust
Scarcity – Believes in motivating themselves and others out of fear
Abundance – Believes in motivating themselves and others out of grace

I can’t remember which conference I first heard this concept presented, but scarcity is one of the greatest challenges facing organizations and the church today, because it operates on the premise that there is not enough to go around, which in turn affects how we relate to others as well as how we lead our organization and our team. Instead of operating in scarcity, organizations and the church need to operate out of a mentality of abundance. For a mentality of abundance is rooted in the belief that God is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us (Ephesians 3:20). In abundant thinking, we develop, believe in and encourage the success of those around us and in turn build great organizations and teams.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Please enter your name, email and a comment.