Manipulative Generosity is a term I recently wrote in my journal. Thinking through my attitudes on scarcity and generosity, I came to the conclusion that my generosity was often manipulative and not life-giving. I gave out of obligation or because I wanted someone to like me. The whole time I would have considered myself a generous person, but my giving wasn’t life-giving as much as it manipulation. The manipulation was not necessarily evil or outward, but often inward and easily excused. This revelation has really opened me up to the scarcity mindset that I still struggle with in day to day living. I’ve seen way more scarcity in my life than true generosity and through this journey, I’ve written some thoughts about the Scarcity Mindset vs the Generous Mindset.
Scarcity Gives Gifts for Control
- Scarcity gives a gift but tries to hold onto control of the gift. Conditions come with the “gift” and the receiver is told how the gift has to be used or appreciated. Many do this because they allow the gift to control their thoughts. The scarcity mindset uses gifts for purposes, either to manipulate others or to deal with the inner thoughts and guilt trips that people can put on themselves. We may give, but it is to appease guilt or to buy favor.
Scarcity Practices Hoarding
- Scarcity always looks for ways to keep. They are quick to justify holding onto their own resources a little while longer. Finding excuses to keep and making them sound legitimate can become an art form. Hoarding things brings a sense of power and control to a scarcity-minded person. Looking at what they have brings a sense of comfort and security. However, often what they hoard ends up controlling them and they never use or spend it because they don’t want to lose that sense of security even if that security is a facade.
Scarcity Maintains Control
- The scarcity mindset affects every area of a person’s life because they see life as a pie with a limited number of pieces. Therefore they have to maintain control so all the pie doesn’t disappear. This mindset affects their view of resources and talent. They get the view that their gifts are so special that only they can use them effectively. They are reluctant to release control because they feel that they are the “only ones” who can do something. Many will also seek sympathy as an emotional response to justify their hard work and how they have to do everything by themselves. Recruiting help or training help is not part of the plan because they believe there is no one else who can do it as well as them.
Generosity Give Gifts with Joy
- Generous mindset people love to give. The key to what they give, whether it is their time or a gift, is they often give for the joy of giving and not to receive specific actions from the receiver. They release control of the gift and move on mentally from it. By doing this, they don’t hold strings to the gift and are free from worrying about it or about how someone uses the gift.
Generosity Practices Stewardship
- Many people have the false notion that if a person is a giver they are a free spirit and don’t really focus on the details. Often times the opposite is the truth. Givers are often very detailed with their finances and stay on top of their income and expenses. They do this because they see themselves as stewards of their finances with an obligation to do their best with what they have. They save but are not controlled by their savings. Stewardship is not stinginess, it is prioritizing what is most important.
Generosity Releases Control
- The generous mindset looks for opportunities to give because they see life as a river that is constantly flowing and always providing. This river mentality applies to their finances because they see themselves as a part of the river by giving what has been given to them. They also are able to release control to people and are often the happiest when someone does something better than they do. They are not intimidated by someone’s expertise, in fact, they seek to learn from them. That is why generous people are often surrounded by so many other people because they make them feel better about themselves.
Reflecting on the two mindsets is not something that should be done quickly. We need to take the time and look at all areas of our life and see what type of mindset comes to the surface. Many people give but still have a scarcity mindset. On the other hand, there are many who are generous but don’t have a lot of resources. The mindset has nothing to do with our bank account, it has everything to do with our actions.
My badge was big and shiny and I wore it for years for all to see. What badge was it? The Crazy Busy Badge!
For too many years, I wore this badge with pride. My imaginary badge of busyness was a way of letting everyone know how important I was and how much my life mattered. The badge also gave me a personal satisfaction that I was a good person. There was a sense of accomplishment when things were crazy because I got a feeling that I must be really making a difference. The badge of busyness, makes us feel these things, but the reality we have to face is that those feelings are lies.
We are well into the new year and already many resolutions have been left behind. The guilt and shame that accompany the failure of a resolution are real and painful. Many people just stop trying to change and they settle for what they are and decide that change is impossible. Excuses are made and their life fills with self-justifications for not changing. They say things like, “People should just love me the way I am.”
Everything was falling apart! I had put an event together and had tried to do everything myself. I was playing the part of superman and was failing miserably. Details had been forgotten and that awkward feeling of everyone standing around waiting for something to happen hung in the air.
Sailing too close to shore is a condition that affects many of us today. We have been hurt or we have failed in the past so we stay close to shore. We fear trying new things or stepping out of our “safe” zone. Justifications appear from many supposed legitimate areas, but in the end we are just making excuses.
The air was crisp and the faucet was dripping. Temperatures outside were in the teens and this southern boy was in the midst of a battle. The bed is never as comfortable as it is in the early morning. Especially when the early morning promises nothing but insanely cold weather.
The feelings crashed over my like a wave at the beach: FAILURE! This describes the way I was feeling recently when I was reviewing the list of goals I made last year. I felt like a failure because out of a list of 10 goals, I only accomplished a couple of them and that is giving myself a lot of grace.
Soap Opera’s have nothing on College Football during this time of year. We see the coaching carousel in full swing. Watching everything unfold is fascinating mainly because you see the different cultures that schools and teams can have. Ministry is the same way.
I was brought in to “grow” the church. Just a little bit of pressure for a young minister who thought he knew exactly what to do. The pastor wanted me to grow the youth ministry and teach classes to help turn the whole church around. I really thought I could do it! Needless to say, what I thought would be a crowning achievement for my personal legacy turned into a large weight around my neck.
How often has this happened to us. We get done with a great dinner with people we enjoy and once we are home we head to our bathroom look in the mirror and see the largest piece of pepper sitting between our front two teeth! We are amazed at how it looks and we are amazed that we did not have a friend tell us. The truly amazing thing is we wouldn’t have seen the pepper if we didn’t have a mirror with a reflection. Reflections from mirrors can help us only if we look at them. They do not do any good if we ignore them. How much is that like our life? Are we too busy today to even sit and reflect?