Inspiring Generosity


Scarcity or Abundance: A Plea for Understanding

                       Thrift stores...my favorite place to shop!    @pixabay

I don’t know about you, but old habits die hard. We still get the ever-shrinking hard-copy local newspaper every day (except when it’s not published on Saturdays). Sundays, it’s newspaper heaven: the Saturday edition of the Wall Street Journal, the local paper, and the Sunday New York Times.
Ever the vast intellectual, the first thing I grab in the NYTs is the Style section. It’s there that I find Vows (wedding love stories), Social Qs (learning my manners), Tiny Love Stories (about 100 words), and Modern Love (are you sensing a pattern?). I love reading stories about love. I do.
This week’s “Modern Love” struck home. Taryn Englehart wrote about her family – the majority of whom live in Hong Kong. Englehart’s opening line hooked me: “My family is obsessed with the cost of things.”
I too grew up in such a family. My mother grew up poor in the moors of Scotland where her family worked for Lord and Lady Walker (yes, really). No heat. No indoor plumbing. Food came primarily from what my grandfather could catch as a groundskeeper on the estate. My father also came from meager means. I remember him taking me by his childhood home located right next to the railroad tracks. It was a one bedroom tiny house…before tiny houses were cool. His mom and dad had the bedroom and his six brothers and sisters shared the living room – a sheet to designate the boys from the girls.
So, I (understandably) grew up with the constant refrain: “How much does that cost?” I don’t ever remember my folks buying anything at full price. They pinched their pennies because they never knew when financial disaster might be around the corner.
And their various refrains are buried deep within me. While I won’t usually ask you, “How much did that cost?” (NYTs Social Qs have taught me well), when someone compliments me on a piece of clothing I’m wearing, I find myself inexplicably channeling my mother saying, “Oh, this? I got it at Goodwill! And…it was a 50% off!”
I understand a scarcity mindset.
When people say, “Have an abundance mindset,” I know they mean well. But to some whose lived experience has been one of scarcity and deprivation, such advice can seem naive and shallow – or just coming from privilege. I have been guilty many times of being flippant with people who don’t get the concept of abundance. And for that, I am sorry. Their fear is real and not to be glossed over.
The Good News that Jesus Christ shares is that we all are lilies of the field! We are cared for like sparrows! God will provide. Jesus says that we can trust that. The abundance mindset I have grown into is based on faith in Jesus, and trust in the God Jesus reveals.
We who either have that scarcity mindset or who grew up within a family focused on scarcity need to hear that message of God’s abundance to grow as disciples, to grow in our trust in God and our freedom to share God’s blessings.
But please share that message with sensitivity and care. You can preach and teach about abundance and have sympathy for those who grew up scared they would be without. It’s not either/or. Keep telling the news about that wonderful and freeing concept of abundance.
And…lovingly bring those with a scarcity mindset right along with you.
BTW, how much did you pay for that?

P.S. My annual Christmas gift to you still stands: Send me a draft of your church’s Christmas letter. I’ll take a look at it and give you some friendly feedback.

Cesie Delve Scheuermann (pronounced “CC Delv Sherman,” yes, really) is a Stewardship Consultant for the OR-ID Annual Conference. She is also a Senior Ministry Strategist with Horizons Stewardship. For 25 years, while working as a volunteer and part-time consultant, she has helped raise over three million dollars for numerous churches and non-profit organizations. Here’s a great ode to thrift shopping – Macklemore’s Thrift Shop (and yes, this is the “clean” version). You can reach Cesie at inspiringgenerosity@gmail.com or on Facebook or at CesieScheuermann.com and one more…cesieds@horizons.net.
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Cesie Delve Scheuermann
Cesie Delve Scheuermann is consultant in grant writing and stewardship/development working with the Conference. From 2008-12 she was the Conference Lay Leader for the Oregon-Idaho Annual Conference.