Monday, December 18, 2006

Is a Scarcity Consciousness Holy?

A retired gentlemen that clips coupons made a strongly worded criticism of a post I made the other day:

"It seems that you and a good majority of the world measure success by monetary value. Those that die with the most toys win"

He thought it more important to "help others" by serving food rather than working to generate wealth. Is he right? Are only poor people who "help others" assured of a blessing in the afterlife?

There have been several ministers that I have heard speak in the past 20 years or so who would disagree with that idea. - such as Norman Vincent Peale (The Power of Positive Thinking) and Robert Schuler (Move Ahead with Possibility Thinking). Another excellent book I have read that disputes that idea is Paul Zane Pilzers God Wants You to be Rich.

There are many Christians who point to the Biblical admonition

"It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the Kingdom of God"

and think it is holier to live a life without money. Few pay attention to the parable of the talents.
The most insightful part of this parable is the most severe condemnation that Jesus gives to the servant that did nothing with his talents:

"And throw that worthless servant outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth."

Jesus also says something about those that create more money with what they are given

"For everyone who has will be given more, and he will have an abundance."

This passage tells me two things
  1. God's given you something and you better do something with what he gave you
  2. If you do something he will bless you with abundance
when I was involved with Amway in Network Marketing business I showed the business plan to hundred's of people. Many had been blessed with much in the way of gifts that would have made them very successful in Network Marketing. But, for one reason or another they declined the opportunity or started with great enthusiasm only to quit after a few days or weeks. I believe they were gripped by a scarcity mentality that didn't allow them to believe they could get rich.

Now my critic may have thought I was attacking him for clipping coupons. I was not, as I shop for good deals and don't believe there is anything wrong with being a good steward of your money. The point of my post was that people driven by scarcity mentality tend to focus on what they don't' have which leads to jealousy. Now, don't get me wrong - I am no saint (I'm sure I've broken every one of the Ten Commandments). Just as being too focused on getting money at the expense of others can lead to sin, so can being focused on scarcity.

We are all given different abilities to produce something in this world. Someone with disabilities certainly may think that they have fewer opportunities to others but there are countless examples of those who have overcome every form of disability to do something astounding in the world.

While most people think that the world is a zero-sum game, this is an illusion. As Pilzer correctly writes - "any increase in wealth of an individual, always results in an even greater increase in wealth for society".

God created the world with abundance, more than any of us can comprehend. God created each of us with abundant talents and has given us abundant opportunities to use those talents. Most of us have declined the opportunity (I plead guilty!), and we are left with a coupon clipping mentality. Now if you are putting the savings from your coupon clipping to good use for investments or business opportunities or charities, I'm sure you are using your money wisely.

I don't believe that those pursuing a life of poverty through scarcity consciousness have the corner on holiness, nor do I believe that those who pursue money just for the purpose of having more things are in the right either.

What I do believe is that God created a world that the more successful I am, the more wealth there is for everybody. By working and creating and sharing we make a better place for all.

My perspective is that God was the Creator and he created us in his image - so we were made to create. That is our role.

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