Scarcity Mentality

“Most people are deeply scripted in what I call the Scarcity Mentality. They see life as having only so much, as though there were only one pie out there. And if someone were to get a big piece of the pie, it would mean less for everyone else.” – Stephen Covey

I hadn’t thought much about the term scarcity mentality until I reread the account of the Israelites in the wilderness. It’s the second month of their journey since they left Egypt. They grumbled against Moses and Aaron. “If only we had died by the LORD’s hand in Egypt! There we sat around pots of meat and ate all the food we wanted, but you have brought us out into this desert to starve this assembly to death.” Exodus 16:2-3 (NIV).

Selective memory, it seems. Had they really forgotten they were slaves in Egypt?

So God told Moses he would rain down bread from heaven for the people in the morning and meat at twilight. But there were a couple rules first. Everyone was to gather only as much as they needed. An omer for each person in their tent. They were to go out each day and gather enough for that day. No one was to keep any of it until morning.

However, some of them paid no attention to Moses. Scarcity mentality. They kept part of it until morning. Imagine their surprise when they woke to find the food full of mold and maggots.

On the sixth day they were to gather twice as much food, because on the seventh day there would be no food on the ground. Nevertheless, some of the people went out on the seventh day to gather and found none. 

Like the Israelites wandering in the desert, we too, can have a scarcity mentality at times. That’s when the what ifs start bombarding us. What if there isn’t enough manna and quail tomorrow? But the thing is this, it didn’t matter if the Israelites gathered a lot or a little, whatever they gathered was always sufficient.

Are there times you feel the pangs of a scarcity mentality? If so, how do you push beyond it in gratefulness for what God has provided?

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And when they measured it by the omer, the one who gathered much did not have too much, and the one who gathered little did not have too little. Everyone had gathered just as much as they needed. Exodus 16:18 (NIV)

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I wish you well.


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2 thoughts on “Scarcity Mentality

  1. Ah ha! I did not know there was a name for this. Facilities the “me first” and “keeping up with the neighbors” and that God can’t provide enough resources for those in need coming into this country. God is big enough to provide for us and gives us in abundance more to share. Very timely devotional!

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