Never Enough: Scarcity versus Abundance (Part 2)
"If only I had more money, then I wouldn't worry so much about it." "If only I were thinner, people would like me more." "If only I had a better job..." "If my spouse would be more loving, then I would respect him?"We can spend our lives living in the land of "If only..." and always feel lacking. However, shifting into abundance means a shift in perspective. I am not talking about the popular positive thinking movement that says, "If you believe it you will achieve it," or the faith-based prosperity gospel that says, "If you are lacking it is because your faith is too small." There is no super-secret special formula of words you can say or set of rituals to follow to receive the abundance you desperately crave. Abundance doesn't arrive with new circumstances, it arrives with a new mindset. In Mark Scandrette's podcast interview, he shared how life-changing it was for him and his wife when they looked around early on in their marriage and agreed that if they never had anything else, what they had at that moment was enough. They made the commitment to recognize the abundance of what they had and to ignore the pursuit of more. Ironically, as I have been preparing this blog post, our pastor this Sunday preached a sermon entitled, Enough Already. The message of the sermon covered the topic of learning to be content with whatever we have. In essence, he was asking the listeners to move from a mindset of scarcity to one of abundance. How can we do this? Here are some practical tips:
1. Be mindful of the things you already possess. Sometimes we take for granted all that we actually have in our quest for more. It is important to be able to name these things. There is an old hymn we used to sing in church when I was growing up called, "Count Your Blessings". The words to the song are:
When upon life's billows you are tempest tossed When you are discouraged, thinking all is lost, Count your many blessings, name them one by one, And it will surprise you what the Lord hath done.
Count your blessings, name them one by one, Count your blessings, see what God hath done! Count your blessings, name them one by one, And it will surprise you what the Lord hath done.Are you ever burdened with a load of care? Does the cross seem heavy you are called to bear? Count your many blessings, every doubt will fly, And you will keep singing as the days go by.
RefrainWhen you look at others with their lands and gold, Think that Christ has promised you His wealth untold; Count your many blessings. Wealth can never buy Your reward in heaven, nor your home on high.
RefrainSo, amid the conflict whether great or small, Do not be disheartened, God is over all; Count your many blessings, angels will attend, Help and comfort give you to your journey’s end.
"My fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country."
As a society, we have bought into the lie that we can have it all. The truth is, every time we focus on what we think we deserve but don't have, we are moving into a scarcity mindset. The constant quest for more keeps us stuck in the mindset that tells us that what we have isn't enough. Going down that path will take you in circles. It is a hunger that can never be satisfied. When we show gratitude, we shift from a posture of entitlement to one of recognizing that we already have more than we deserve.
4. BE enough. Examine your insecurities. I understand how easy it is to spend life trying to prove your worthiness to others. This comes from a belief that you are not good enough just the way you are. It is a belief that you are only worthy of love and respect when others validate that message. When you get caught in this cycle, you will find yourself constantly trying to mold yourself to the expectations of others. This can be exhausting and disheartening. If this is your quest, you will never be enough. Stop the endless cycle of turning yourself inside and out to impress everyone. Who are you really? Who were you created to be? What makes you uniquely YOU? Be that person and be confident about who you are. Recognize that the person God created you to be IS ENOUGH. You ARE enough. When you recognize that you are enough, you can stop the endless quest for the next thing that will prove you are worthy to be loved and accepted. No more will you need to have surgery after surgery to perfect yourself. No more will you need to buy more and more clothing and accessories to adorn yourself. No more will you be in debt up to your eyeballs to keep up with the Jones'.
5. Know your needs and quit starving them. Dr. Gregg Jantz was a guest presenter recently on the Life, Love, and Family podcast. He spoke on the topic of what he calls, "Excessities". In this message, he makes a powerful statement. He says that many people are so busy "feeding their wants and desires that they are starving their true needs." Think about that statement. I often find myself craving something and I go from one thing to another seeking to fulfill that craving, only to find that it still isn't satisfied. This is because I haven't been able to identify the true need. Once I know the need, I can address it and stop trying to fill it with things that were never meant to satisfy it. Addictions are the result of people trying to fill a need with something not designed to satisfy that need.
Perhaps you were taught that it was wrong to have needs. You feel selfish admitting that you need something so you never actively ask for what you need. We were all created with certain needs. A psychologist by the name of Abraham Maslow is famous for his "Hierarchy of Needs". He posits that all humans have five basic needs: physiological, safety, love, esteem, and self-actualization (growth). He also stated that the longer a person's need goes unmet, the greater the need becomes.
Consider this simple example. I have often heard it said that many times people who are thirsty mistake the need for hydration with a need for food. They may try eating a handful of chips only to find that their craving isn't satisfied. A little later they try out a couple of cookies. They may go through a lot of food trying to satisfy a hunger that is really a thirst. As long as they keep eating food when they need water, their need will be starved and they will likely become more and more dehydrated.
As long as we keep filling needs with wants and desires, we will remain in need and live in scarcity.
6. Stop comparing. Jealousy - Envy - Greed - Coveting These are all forms of comparing ourselves with others. No matter what you have, you will always find someone else who has more. No matter how smart you are, there is always going to be someone smarter. No matter how pretty you are, there will be someone more attractive. There will always be people who have a better job than you, have better behaved children, have a nicer house, drive better cars, have more adoration from others, and the list could go on and on. Stop trying to keep up with others. You weren't created to be them or to live their life. You were created to be who God wanted you to be and were called to live the life he called you to. You will never be able to recognize what you have when your eyes are on what others have.
As always, I look forward to hearing from you. What other tips do you have for shifting your mindset from one of scarcity to one of abundance? In parting, As a believer, I find it helpful to consider the message of Romans 12:2 which says,
Join me in this challenge to put on a new set of glasses so we can see the world from a new perspective. Look around you and see the abundance you have been given. If you have trouble seeing what you have as abundance, perhaps you should ignore my advice in number six above and take a trip to another part of the world - one where they don't have the amenities you have. Go there. Compare what you have. See the mindset of the people who have less. When I was a senior in high school, I went on a mission team to Honduras. As I went into a village with homes that had no windows, mud floors, and scarce furnishings, I listened to the testimonies of the people who lived there. I went into their homes and heard them praising God for all they had been given. I was dumbfounded. I realized that day that abundance is a mindset. They had nothing compared to what I had at home waiting for me in America, yet appeared to be more content and grateful than me. I went home changed from that trip. I saw the world through different eyes. I saw my own world with a renewed sense of gratitude. Perspective is everything! As always, I would love hearing your thoughts on this topic.
"Do not be conformed any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind."