Scarcity or Abundance?

Posted on July 17, 2012 by Audrey Riley

We’ve been talking around the office lately (we do talk a lot, don’t we?) about the difference between an attitude of scarcity and an attitude of abundance, and how having a scarcity mentality – no matter how unconsciously – leads us to think that we’re limited in what we can do.

If we believe that there’s not enough whatever to go around, we act accordingly. We believe we have to hang on tight to our little pile of whatever. We don’t take risks, because if we lose our whatever, we’re sure it’s gone for good. And if some people have less whatever than we do, well, that’s a pity, but there’s not a lot we can do about it – after all, there’s only so much whatever to go around. Sound familiar?

But what if we believe in our hearts that there’s plenty to go around – plenty of time, plenty of resources, plenty of energy, plenty of ideas, plenty of everything – what happens then? How do we act if we really believe that? Do we see our job as helping to see that everyone has plenty of that abundant, never-ending everything?

I ran across an interesting take on that on a blog kept by an Episcopal priest, the Rev. John Ohmer (http://unapologetictheology.blogspot.com/). He writes, in part: . . . We carry a scarcity mindset, an achievement mindset or an abundance mindset. And these mindsets can carry over to our spiritual mindset.

A scarcity spirituality sees not only money, but things like love, grace and forgiveness as in short supply. An achievement spirituality sees . . . things like love, grace and forgiveness . . . as things that come to you to the degree that you earn them, work hard for them.

And an abundance spirituality sees . . . love, grace and forgiveness . . . as things that are in abundant supply because they are all God’s. Carry that view over and you get the view that God’s love is without limit, without border, without exception, without condition.

If we’ve been well catechized, we know that God’s love is just as Father John writes – without limit, without condition. Of course we know that in our heads. But do we believe it in our hearts?

And do we act that way? Does it change the world?

Audrey Riley is a member of the fundraising staff of ELCA World Hunger.

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