Scarcity versus Abundance

by Don Simmons

Many of us suffer from a “scarcity” mindset in which we believe that life is a finite pie and if one person takes a big piece, there will be less for everyone.  Counter to this is an “abundance” mindset in which there is plenty available for everyone.

The Apostle Paul challenges the scarcity mindset in his discourse on sowing and reaping in 2 Corinthians 9:6-10.  As you read, you will see words like generous, abundant, abounding, increase, and enlarge—which are an obvious contrast to the limits of scarcity:

“Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. As it is written:

‘They have freely scattered their gifts to the poor; their righteousness endures forever.’ [Ps 112:9]

Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness.”

Wealth Creation: Making More Pie

What Paul seems to suggest is that giving  leads to abundant blessings so that the giver is not depleted, but rather added to. The addition should not be misunderstood to be for our own benefit, but it is given so that we can continue to bless others. The same principle can apply to harnessing the power of investing to increase the wealth in our worldwide economy.

Investing into missional businesses can increase wealth on two fronts:

First, instead of a zero-sum game in which people compete for a limited amount of wealth that will eventually be all distributed, businesses can create additional wealth for their investors, employees, and communities.  The Lausanne Movement’s Wealth Creation Manifesto states:

Wealth creation is rooted in God the Creator, who created a world that flourishes with abundance and diversity. We are created in God’s image, to co-create with Him and for Him, to create products and services for the common good. Wealth creation is a holy calling, and a God-given gift, which is commended in the Bible.

Wealth creation through business has proven power to lift people and nations out of poverty.

Second, missional businesses increase different types of wealth that aren’t just financial. Mats Tunehag notes,

Wealth creation in and through business is beyond corporate philanthropy. Businesses do not exist to simply give away profit. They primarily exist to create different kinds of wealth for people and societies. It is not only about financial wealth, but also social, cultural, intellectual, and spiritual wealth (emphasis mine).

The portrait of God’s generosity and the potential to use wealth to create more and different types of wealth moves me to a more hopeful view of investment resources deployed under Gpd’ direction. There are businesses that have the kingdom of God in view through providing workers living wages, alternatives to predatory lenders, access to health care and education, as well as spiritual leadership through intentional discipleship.  These businesses are often starved for capital, however, while abundant capital sits tied up for our own material gain.

Powering Economic Development

Most Christians are concerned about the poor and are genuinely motivated to alleviate suffering associated with poverty. Typically, Christians turn to charitable giving and respond to direct pleas for help from relief agencies, support fundraisers for short-term mission trips, or provide monthly support for agencies serving the poor. As a result, countless Christians are generous donors to thousands of charities.  This is one expression of Christians “scattering their gifts to the poor”.

However, donations alone are insufficient and are not the most powerful tool for addressing issues such as global poverty.

Because investments expect a return of principal, they are different from charitable donations.  But that same expectation powers the wealth creation discussed above. While donations and philanthropy can provide immediate relief, especially after a catastrophic event, sustainable change occurs best when economic development is fostered.  Economic development allows a community to provide for its own needs, beyond former levels, with dignity and justice.

Dignity Coconuts

A wonderful example of economic development is Dignity Coconuts, a missional business located in the formerly undeveloped seaside villages in the Philippines.  Dignity’s story illustrates the power of investments to foster development combined with bringing abundant blessing to the village inhabitants.  The investors, many of whom are still waiting for a financial return on their investment, are able to partner with God in sowing seeds, doing good work, and experiencing a harvest of righteousness.  They are willing to look beyond just financial returns and participate in the creation of additional and different types of wealth.

Sowing seeds that grow wealth will show the world God’s generous nature, one characterized by abundance and not scarcity.

For more information on becoming a steward investor, visit Together we can grow the kingdom of God through offering investment capital to missional and redemptive businesses.

>>Read Part 1 in the Series

>>Read Part 2 in the Series

>>Read Part 3 in the Series

Don Simmons has over thirty years of experience building and managing a boutique investment firm in upstate New York that he founded in 1988. A CFP® Professional with a degree in counseling and post graduate training as a portfolio asset allocation specialist, Don fuses professional portfolio strategy with investor psychology and behavior to provide  a well-informed perspective on our role as Christian steward-investors.  With nearly a quarter billion dollars of assets under management, his firm consistently ranks among the top 1% of financial  advisor practices in the United States. Read more…


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