When I worked in the field of fundraising I attended conferences to develop my skills and abilities. At every conference I went to, I remember presenters focused on the fact that there are a limited number of people with a limited number of dollars willing to donate to charities. So as a fundraiser, you have be the best at finding those people with those dollars. You have to be the best at communicating your message to those potential donors so that you would receive those dollars to allow you to do what you want to do.
Steven Covey calls this a scarcity mentality. He contends that people with a scarcity mentality tend to see everything in terms of win-lose. There is only so much; and if someone else has it, that means there will be less for me.
People with a scarcity mentality have difficulty sharing recognition, credit, power, or profit. They also have a tough time being genuinely happy for the success of other people. It’s almost as if something were being taken from them when someone else receives special recognition or success.
People with a scarcity mentality either hoard their money because they are afraid of what will happen to them in the future, or they spend now because if they don’t they might not have another opportunity to make that purchase. They tend to be stingy – with their time, their money and themselves.
A church with a scarcity mentality sees itself as competing with other churches for people and other ministries for money. If there is a budget surplus the first reaction would be to hold onto the money because you just never know if you might need it in the future.
But there is an alternative – abundance mentality. Biblical Stewardship is consistent with an abundance mentality. Our God is a God of abundance. He is the creator, the owner, the provider. Philippians 4:19 says, “My God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.”
People with an abundance mentality celebrate the success of others. They are truly happy when someone else receives recognition. They don’t see themselves in competition with others. They prefer collaboration. tThey understand there is enough… enough for everyone. They rest on the Sabbath because they believe God has provided them with enough time. And people with an abundance mentality are generous.
Churches with an abundance mentality are generous. They are pleased to see other churches growing. They trust that God will direct people to their church and when they arrive, they look after them well. They seek out opportunities to meet needs in their communities and beyond.
So how do we move from a scarcity mentality to an abundance mentality? First, we need to deepen our understanding of God. We tend to shrink him down and box him in, but as we get to know him, we begin to catch a glimpse of just how big God is.
Secondly – We need to give as God directs. The act of giving in obedience to God sets a number of things in motion – good things. As we give, our faith in God is deepened. Matthew 6:21 comes to life for us: “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” We begin to care more about meeting the needs of others rather than fulfilling our own desires.
Thirdly – We need to broaden our worldview. Rather than comparing ourselves and our own situation to others in North America, let’s compare ourselves to the rest of the world.
• If your income is $25,000 Canadian or more you are in the top 10.64% of the richest people in the world
• Only 8% of the people in the world own cars
• Almost two in three people lacking access to clean water survive on less than $2 a day, with one in three living on less than $1 a day.
A simple change in focus can be powerfully effective. Canadians in general are a very blessed people. I’m not saying there isn’t economic disparity in Canada – there is. And those of us who have been blessed need to respond to decrease the gap between the rich and the poor – in Canada and around the world.
“What I’m trying to do here is get you to relax, not be so preoccupied with getting so you can respond to God’s giving. People who don’t know God and the way he works fuss over these things, but you know both God and how he works. Steep yourself in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. You’ll find all your everyday human concerns will be met. Don’t be afraid of missing out. You’re my dearest friends! The Father wants to give you the very kingdom itself.”
Luke 12;29-32 The Message
Joanne Bell is the Stewardship Development Director for The Free Methodist Church in Canada. Please contact her at [email protected] or visit the website: