(This post first appeared on EFCA East Blog)
About what part of your life are you most tempted to think, I don’t have enough? For me, that thought is almost always tied to time. Some days, I don’t have enough time constantly runs in the back of my mind. And that mantra never serves me well. It doesn’t make me more efficient. Instead, it makes me impatient, anxious, and stressed.
Maybe, for you, the “not enough” is about leaders you need to accomplish your ministry goals. Or the budget necessary to fund your vision.
Sometimes we’re tempted to believe that we ourselves are not enough: not talented enough, tech-savvy enough, young enough, creative enough, courageous enough.
Just. Not. Enough.
Psychologists call these scarcity thoughts, and every human being has them—the default chatter our brains make when left unattended.
Scarcity thinking proves helpful in times when the threat of physical danger looms large and people must scan their environment for threats. Planning for scarcity helps ensure survival in many cultures still today. But it’s less helpful in our context—that of 21st-century church leadership. For us today, focusing on what we don’t have breeds negative leadership and hurts the people who look to us for optimism and hope. Left unchecked, scarcity thinking leads us to accentuate the negative and discount the positive, and that mindset blinds us to new possibilities.
The disciples struggled with scarcity thinking. Consider Mark 8:14-21 (New International Version):
The disciples had forgotten to bring bread, except for one loaf they had with them in the boat. “Be careful,” Jesus warned them. “Watch out for the yeast of the Pharisees and that of Herod.”
They discussed this with one another and said, “It is because we have no bread.”
Aware of their discussion, Jesus asked them: “Why are you talking about having no bread? Do you still not see or understand? Are your hearts hardened? Do you have eyes but fail to see, and ears but fail to hear? And don’t you remember? When I broke the five loaves for the five thousand, how many basketfuls of pieces did you pick up?”
“Twelve,” they replied.
“And when I broke the seven loaves for the four thousand, how many basketfuls of pieces did you pick up?”
They answered, “Seven.”
He said to them, “Do you still not understand?”
Twice, they’d seen Jesus turn their meager resources into a hearty meal for thousands with basketfuls left over, yet they were still worried about not having enough bread. Jesus didn’t simply remind them that their need was met; He specifically pointed to the leftovers, highlighting the abundance.
Jesus calls us to also replace our small, anxious thinking with confidence—trusting that there will always be more than enough to meet our every need. Throughout the Gospels, Jesus reveals a God who is generous and attentive to our needs. He won’t hoard His good gifts, leaving us empty-handed (Matthew 7:9-10).
Jesus said, “I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.” (John 10:10, New King James Version). But sometimes in our zeal to be faithful, we trade abundance for duty and slip into viewing God as our taskmaster instead of the gracious father who celebrates us (Luke 15:31).
The table below* compares eight characteristics of a scarcity mindset versus an abundance mindset.
* Michael Hyatt, “Want an Abundant Life? Change Your Thinking” https://michaelhyatt.com/change-your-thinking/
What kind of thinker are you? Are you leading from an abundance mindset, or are you stuck in scarcity? We all tend toward scarcity at some time or another. Becoming aware is the first step to moving in the right direction.
When I notice myself falling into that old scarcity of time mindset, I stop. Breath deep. And remind myself that there is more than enough time to accomplish what is really needed. This abundant thought generates clarity to prioritize my list and confidence to say no to things that can wait.
So the next time you find yourself thinking, There’s not enough… stop. Determine to view your situation through the lens of abundance. Because God is able to do immeasurably more than all we can ask or imagine. That’s mind-blowing abundance. Let’s not waste it.