The Scarcity Mindset

By Robert Morris Published on March 24, 2024

One of the most prominent and defining characteristics of our heavenly Father is His generosity. The entirety of Scripture testifies to this. Of course, children naturally take after their fathers, which is why I frequently point out that we are never more like our Father than when we are being generous.

Live in God’s presence like a true son or daughter for a while, and you’ll discover this. And once you discover it, you’ll find yourself free to be generous, too.

People with the mindset of a hired hand — people like the older brother in Jesus’s parable about the Prodigal Son — never feel free to be generous because they have a scarcity mindset. They never know whether they’ve earned enough heavenly credits to get their needs met. They don’t see God as a Father who has looked at them and declared, “All I have is yours.”

What Scarcity Looks Like

Kris Vallotton of Bethel Church in Redding, California, tells a stunning story of fostering a boy, Eddie, who had lived his whole life in the care of a drug-addicted mother. The boy had practically raised himself. The basics, such as food and electricity, had been sporadic and unpredictable for his entire life.

When Kris and his wife, Kathy, took custody of Eddie, they instantly noticed something: At mealtimes, even though the table was invariably heaped with food, the boy watched the serving bowls like a hawk. When one of the bowls reached the half-full point, he would quickly refill his plate. Also, when he thought no one was looking, he would stash food in his napkin to carry into his bedroom later. Life as a near orphan had marked the boy’s young soul with a scarcity mindset.

For the child of God, scarcity is a lie — and yet, so many of God’s people have a scarcity mindset.

Eventually, Eddie came to understand there was always going to be plenty of food. That even when the table was nearly empty, there was more where that came from. He learned that there were stores full of food and access to it that he couldn’t even imagine. Only then did he begin to relax and stop hoarding. Only then could he be liberated from his prison of scarcity thinking and scarcity behaving.

The same is true for all former orphans like you and me. We can carry a scarcity mindset into our new adoptive home. But the reality of having a forever-place at God’s heavenly banquet table is that everything we could ever need for life and godliness — that is, physical needs and spiritual needs — has been fully, infinitely supplied because we’re in Jesus (see 2 Peter 1:3). Yet if we’re still carrying around the orphan/servant/vassal/older-brother identity, our impulse will be to hoard rather than to give. We will wrongly view our Father as hard and tight-fisted. And so instead of holding everything God has given us with an open hand, we will be tight-fisted, too.

Breaking Free

In his devotional titled Praying Grace, my friend David Holland included this prayer of repentance at the end of one of the devotions.

Wonderful Father, forgive me for any time I have approached You as if You were anything less than extravagantly generous. Or if my heart has ever seemed to question Your goodness. Your gift of Jesus shouts of Your love and compassion toward me. What a gift! And when I see what He suffered on my behalf, I stand in awe of Your grace.

I will not insult Your extravagant love by coming to You as a beggar — or as if I need to find some way to overcome Your reluctance to supply my needs and bless. You are generous. You, dear Father, did not spare Your own Son, but gave Him up for me. How will You not also, along with Him, graciously meet my every need.

For the child of God, scarcity is a lie — and yet, so many of God’s people have a scarcity mindset. They believe provision is scarce, so they hoard. They believe that love is scarce, so they become needy, clingy, and insecure. They believe that significance is scarce, so they inwardly resent it when one of their siblings receives recognition or promotion or blessing — which leads us to the third item in the father’s response to his angry, resentful eldest son.

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Recall that the prodigal father said, “It was right that we should make merry and be glad, for your brother was dead and is alive again, and was lost and is found.” A hired-hand mentality will keep you constantly comparing yourself with others. Relentlessly looking around at your siblings to see who seems to have more than you. It often manifests as arrogance, boastfulness, and pride, but the root is the orphan’s insecurity. Only those secure in their identities as beloved teknons [cherished children] are free to celebrate the successes and blessings of others. Only the secure will hold everything with an open hand. Only the secure can wash feet, touch lepers, and give extravagantly.

One of the most impactful and transformative shifts you can make as a believer is to get your mind and heart around this simple, but powerful truth:

In Jesus, we are not servants, even though we happily serve. We are beloved sons and daughters. And of us, the Father says today, “You are always with me. And everything I have is yours.” Oh, what a wonderful gift is this thing called grace.

 

Robert Morris joins James and Betty this week on LIFE TODAY. Excerpted from Grace, Period: Living in the Amazing Reality of Jesus’ Finished Work by Robert Morris (Copyright 2024 by Robert Morris). Used with permission from FaithWords, a division of Hachette Book Group, Inc.

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