I heard a story a while back about a family that adopted a child. They chose to adopt from an orphanage that far below ideal living standards. This child had to learn survival quickly. One of her survival techniques was hiding a portion of the food she had been given, because she was never sure when she would eat next.
But this child was adopted into a new family, and this new family fed her regularly. Food was no longer an unpredictable luxury for her.
However, the parents found an odd behavior from this child they had recently adopted: She was hiding food! Dinner would be eaten partially, and the rest stored away.
The child was not living out her new reality. She was living in her new reality, where she was fed regularly, behaving like she was still in her old reality, hiding food not knowing when she’ll eat next.
This is called a scarcity mentality, and it’s a practical mentality to have...When there is scarcity.
When it comes to finances, I operate out of a scarcity mentality more than I like to admit.
On the saver and spender spectrum for how I use money, I’d be on the far side of the saver end (with spreadsheets for budgeting everything…I know, I wouldn’t invite me to the next party either).
Now, there is obviously wisdom to stewarding our money (budgeting is a great discipline to add to your life if you have not already done so)! But here’s the issue: Too often, I save money out of a scarcity mentality. This is revealed when I choose to not value giving like I should. Honestly, I believe wholeheartedly that the secret to really living is giving! But when I get paid, look at my bank account, pay bills and allot money to groceries, gas, date nights, and rent, then I find it difficult to give! I want giving to be a regular part of my life rhythm. But there’s one thing preventing me: a scarcity mentality.
If I’m being real with you, I do- deep down- believe that if I do the courageous thing and give of my money – and not just give, but give generously – then there will not be enough for my wife and I. If I courageously say yes to living a life of generosity, then we’re going to have to say by to our apartment, and hello to renting a room…from my parents.
If this resonates with you and you find giving generously a challenge (and by “giving”, I don’t just mean money, but also time and energy and resources), then here are a few thoughts for you to wrestle with as I too wrestle with them.
1. As a follower of Jesus I believe strongly that because of Jesus I have been adopted into God’s loving family. God is my Father, and I am His beloved child.
Now, what kind of a father would God be if He, being abundantly rich, would withhold from me for being generous? For me, I often think that God is either stingy, or lacking in resources, or both.
But the reality is God is a loving and generous Father! And He wants His children to live a life of generosity. And He is not going to leave his kids hanging.
2. It is not wise to wait until you’re well off financially before practicing generosity. To assume wealth produces generosity is like saying a new pair of Nikes produce an athletic lifestyle. Being rich doesn’t mean you’re automatically going to be generous.
If you are poor and not generous, what makes you think you’ll be generous when you’re rich? This is a false assumption we often fall into. Generosity is a habit of the heart, and that habit starts today. It starts today, and extends into an incredible future of a life of courageous and impactful generosity.
3. The third and final thought is this: Have a global perspective. I’ve had the privilege of traveling several times into third-world countries. The harsh reality is this: The standard of living I saw is the norm for half of the world.
I’m sure you have heard that half of the world lives on less than $2 a day, but have you ever stopped and really thought about the struggles that come with that? Imagine raising a family with that income! When I shifted my perspective from my world to a global perspective, I realized something I never thought was true: That I am rich. And, if you drive a car, make more than $2 a day, and have a smart phone, you’re rich too.
So here’s the encouragement I want to leave you with: resist the cultural narrative that says “consume for yourself because there’s not enough”, and live a life of generosity. We no longer have to have a scarcity mentality. We have a God who loves us, and is rich in resources. And this God invites us into living a deep and meaningful life, a life that gives generously.
I challenge you to take that step, and see how generosity radically shapes your character.
INSTAGRAM & TWITTER: @DAVIDBEAVIS
Eating lots of food and looking at pictures of puppies are couple of ingredients to David's perfect day. The driving passion of David's life is walking alongside people as they figure out what it means to follow Jesus today. David holds a B.A. in Psychology from Vanguard University and an M.A. in Theology from Talbot School of Theology. He currently works at Mariners Church in Irvine on the High School Ministry team. David lives in Costa Mesa, CA, with his amazing wife Laura.