Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Full or Hungry?

Philippians 4:11-13  Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.  I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.  I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.
In his September 22 leadership reading, John Maxwell quoted Thomas Jefferson as saying, “A candle loses nothing when it lights another candle.”  The reading in which he used that quote dealt with mindset.  And whether that mindset was one of assuming scarcity or of assuming abundance.  As leaders, we can share what we have by partnering with those we lead or we can withhold our resources because we don’t think there’s enough to share.  Which made me think of the verses that began this post.  And we’ll get to them in a moment.
One of the reasons I like John Maxwell’s writings so much is that they’re multi-faceted.  Although John Maxwell writes about leadership, the principles apply to living life properly and to our walk as Christians.  So think about the mindsets Mr. Maxwell was talking about.  Because they go deeper than our perceptions. 

If we see what we have (be it money, things, ideas, power or whatever) as being sufficient, that speaks to a whole series of ideas.  What we have meets our needs. We know there’s enough to bless others.  We consider ourselves blessed by what we have and the capacity to share it.  And we have a positive outlook toward the efforts we put into generating our resources and our connection to the source of our resources, God.
Compare the above thinking to our perceptions with a scarcity mindset.  We don’t see what we have as sufficient to meet our needs.  Or at least have strong suspicions it won’t last till some unknown point in the future.  If we share our resources, it’s grudgingly.  More likely, we don’t share.  Our thoughts on God are interesting.  We either wonder if God cares about us or if He somehow has it in for us.  And, even more likely, there’s really no connection to God.  We think we’re the source of everything we get – by work, by conniving, by luck.  Because the scarcity mindset is self focused, not God focused.  And definitely in contrast to Paul’s statements in the verses we began with.
Paul starts out saying that he’s not speaking out of any feeling of want or need.  Rather, his life and thinking rest in Godly contentment.  He has experienced mental, spiritual and physical poverty and he’s had wealth in those areas of his life, too.  Paul states he’s learned to handle both extremes (and anything in between).  How?  Through his relationship with Christ.  Paul says his capacity to experience and do things is fully expanded to cover everything by that relationship with Christ.  Simple.  Easy.  Unlike what we tend to try to do with our lives and how we allow God into it.

We’ve just said that getting to the right mindset is simple and easy.  But you’re probably wondering how to avoid the scarcity mindset and jump into recognizing the abundance God has given us.  Next time, we’ll look at some things that the Psalms have shown John Maxwell about leading that I think applies to this.  And we’ll take a look at what Jeremiah says about it.  In the meantime, how do you place yourself in a mindset of abundance?

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