Growing up, things were good in our family — until they weren’t.
My dad lost his job when I was in elementary school and never held meaningful employment after that. Looking back as an adult, I now understand my dad was probably depressed. It was up to my mom to make all the money for our family and run the house as well — cooking, cleaning, shopping, and managing the money.
We almost always had enough, but never anything extra. One of my most vivid memories is watching my mom get ready for work by slipping pieces of cardboard into her shoes since they both had holes in them. They were the only work shoes she had.
Mom did everything she could to make sure we had what we needed, but I always remember a lot of stress around anything to do with finances. I didn’t want to live like that when I left home.
In my first marriage, long stints of my ex-husband’s unemployment reinforced the idea that there would never be enough. Living in Silicon Valley, enough looked different than enough in other parts of the world. And yet, not knowing if you’ll be able to pay the next power bill, telling your kids no to stuff their classmates all have, and losing a home is hard for any mom, wherever you are.
Because of those experiences, the fear of “not enough” is deep in my DNA, and it’s something I battle every day.
Sometimes my fear comes out in expected ways — paying bills late because I don’t want to let go of the money we have, putting off repairs, lacking in generosity when I should be giving.
Other times, fear comes out in weird ways — buying too much at the store because what if we don’t have the money to buy what we need next week? Or overspending today so we won’t be lacking tomorrow.
About two years ago, my husband and I moved to a remote mountain in Northern California to live among the trees and teach writing retreats. When I was living in the city, it was no problem to run to the supermarket five minutes away. Now, going to the store involves lots of planning and a several-hour commitment. I never expected only going to town once a week would bring up all those scarcity insecurities all over again. I felt I needed to buy more when we’re at the store because what if we don’t have what we need later on?
I battle a heart of scarcity, but I long for a heart of abundance.
A heart of scarcity means a heart of fear, and fear is a hard way to live. I desperately want to be able to echo the words of Paul the Apostle, who knew both abundance and scarcity — and knew the secret to living with both.
I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need. I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.
Philippians 4:12-13 (NASB)
It sounds good, but how do we apply it in day-to-day life? I’ve found that when confronted with something that seems like anxiety-inducing scarcity, my best remedy is praying about it.
Prayer usually results in one of the following:
1. God gives me what I need. When we moved into our house in the mountains, which we affectionately call The Red House, the previous owners left behind tools, supplies, hardware, and more. So much so that we don’t always know what we have between what they left and what we’ve bought for other projects. But if I look hard enough, I discover I already have what I need. Our joke is, “The Red House giveth,” but it is really God who keeps showing up and showing off to say, “Hey, remember those birds of the field? I’ve got you too.”
2. God gives me another idea. Sometimes I’ll be convinced I need a certain tool, ingredient, or paint color to complete my project, and I won’t have it. But oftentimes, I come up with another idea, another substitution, another something. I may not have exactly what I want, but God gives me the creativity to come up with what I need.
3. I realize I didn’t need it in the first place. We are bombarded by messages from advertising, friends, instructions, and social media that we absolutely must have a certain item. I have omitted a spice from a recipe, left a color off a painting, or done without an accessory everyone else seems to be wearing. And you know what? The world — and I — marched on.
When fears about not having enough come up, spending time with God reminds me how rich I am in many areas.
Scarcity mindset comes from believing money is the only resource God has entrusted me with. But I have other resources:
To move from a scarcity mindset to a place of abundance, I have to get away to pray often, even if away is behind the closed door of my bedroom. It’s the only way I know to get quiet enough to hear the truth of the still, small voice of Jesus whispering, “I am enough,” to my heart.
If you’d like the chance to get away, even if it’s at your own house, order Kathi’s new devotional, An Abundant Place: Daily Retreats for the Woman Who Can’t Get Away. It would make a great Christmas gift for all the women on your list! Each devotion includes spiritual insight from authors Kathi Lipp and Cheri Gregory, helpful prompts that encourage reflection and growth, and room for you to write down what God is teaching you.
When you order before January 4th, you’ll also receive access to an exclusive journal and a podcast series with Kathi and Cheri Gregory called “Devos for Dropouts.” Redeem your preorder here.
Place your order to get your freebies AND enter to WIN one of five copies that we’re giving away! Leave a comment on this post telling us about how you move away from scarcity mindset and you’ll be entered to win.
Then tune in tomorrow, December 15th, at 11am central on our Facebook page for a live conversation with Kathi and Becky! We know it will be a blessing to listen in to their discussion.
By remembering God’s provision in the past.
Kathi Lipp says
Yes – excellent.
Ruth Mills says
Great perspective! When those fears do creep in I’m challenged to evaluate did I sin to exacerbate the issue & thus confess it as sin and then like you consider all I do have & praise Him that it ALL comes from Him! His idea of riches is not the world’s. Practicing agreeing with Him brings contentment beyond logic.
Kathi Lipp says
His idea of riches is not the world’s. Practicing agreeing with Him brings contentment beyond logic. Love this Ruth!
I appreciated your words and it has given me something to consider. Thank you!
The timing of your post is very relevant for me. Recently, and after much prayer, I have realized I face the world from a position of “lack” rather than “abundance” and that if I change that perspective I will change my life. Your post reinforces that for me. So I abundantly thank you for your post!
Anastasia D. says
I resonate so well with this post. I live with a scarcity mindset and could not put into words what I struggled with until I read this. I knew that I was living in a place of fear and anxiety, but to now realize it’s rooted in a scarcity mindset has been very freeing. I struggle with financial insecurity, and have recently found a book called Know Yourself Know Your Money by Rachel Cruze that touches on childhood roots and the environment we grew up in that impacted how we handle finances. This has also opened my mind and has become very freeing! Thank you for sharing 🙂
Kathi Lipp says
Anastasia, thank you for sharing part of your journey. I love that you are starting to find freedom.
This certainly hit home with me. Lots to ponder.
Kathi Lipp says
Glad it hit you today.
H Lynn Pierce says
God continues to teach me to depend on him. He always comes through for me. We are approaching a season in which our income will decrease significantly. We have been praying. I love how you offer that we have more than one way to meet a need and God gives us other gifts besides money. Recently an opportunity came up for me to trade services for something I thought would have to be quit. I am so grateful for God’s provision in any form and grateful that you are willing to share the insights He has taught you so others can live more dependent on Him. God bless you!
Kathi Lipp says
Thank you – it is amazing that the world only measures value in one way, but truly, we have so many resources. I’m grateful for your words today.
Joan Moore says
Such wise words to ponder. While I like to think I am content in all things, I am also quickly reminded that I also suffer from the scarcity mindset. Oh how I truly long for complete contentment. Daily staying in God’s word sure helps.
Kathi Lipp says
It sure does. I love that many of us are on this path together.
First, I have a similar childhood and adult story. I became somewhat of a mini hoarder for a few years, as I learned to feel like I “had enough”. In
It’s interesting that one’s heart can have a default to scarcity, until, that is, one is filled with the spirit.
As my faith grew, I felt I had enough (we were also in abundant times). No longer did I need to send off for or collect every freebie to save for our church/school events. I finally had enough.
Then, illness and divorce. That scarcity mindset really had me trapped and filled me with anxiety for a few years. It didn’t help that the country’s financials were in a tizzy-I lost my job three times with the market crash, returned to school and was without a home and securities like health insurance and access to good food for a while. I felt deplete and worthless as my ex had said, as my health deteriorated and anxiety reared it’s ugly head. And the world seemed to be turning without me!
I knew I had to get it together. I had felt the peace of Christ, when things were smooth sailing. I remembered scripture that tells us we’ll be looked after. Being without a home didn’t seem like that. But, when I could spend time in front of the alter, fill myself with things of light in this world, and remove any darkness I could (maybe the reason I felt such comfort in my church; it is filled with such things of light!), then I could get back to my feelings of abundance.
I’m not going to say I have completely conquered the feelings of scarcity- thy flare when my income barely pays the rent or when I can’t pay just bare minimums, even while I work as many hours as my body can take (literally- my body just shut down; it was on high speed for too long. I am in bed right now, for coming upon a month. I broke both ankles).
Anyway, I have seen the power in living in both mindsets. The spirit of abundance is what I choose to live under, but once in a while that other one tries to sneak in. I renounce that spirit and place it at the foot of the cross, in Jesus’ precious name.
If I can count my blessings where I am, and take any lessons, remembering to discern if I am called for something out of the desolation, to assist others, then I can stay focused on living in abundance, even when life turns messy.
Fear is in the scarcity mindset, and Christians are called to fear not, to trust that the Lord provides. He really does Many blessings!
Kathi Lipp says
First off, I pray that you recover quickly and well. I’m so sorry about your ankles. And yes, I imagine this will be a fight for me for many years to come – the battle between abundance and scarcity – but you are right – there is a path back. To cling to Christ.
Sharon McRoy says
Have you been living in my skin, Kathi?! I, too, have the scarcity mindset, which really rears it’s ugly head in November and December, the time when people are decorating and (over) buying presents for family, friends, co-workers. Once Christmas Days arrives – poof – I’m over it! But so much joy has been missed. Thank you for writing about your struggles. Your honesty will, no doubt, resonate with many of your readers. Blessings to you and your family during this holy season.
Kathi Lipp says
Sharon – and I am praying right now for you and this time of year. I get it – I really do.
such a beautiful devotion. This books sounds amazing – thank you for the gift of writing it and reminding us all… God created us and will care for us in all circumstances. There have been many peaks and valleys of provision in my life… something I have always felt that God will provide and He does and has… He IS all I need to support this daily life!
Kathi Lipp says
Thank you Tamara.
This is a lesson we have to teach ourselves each day. To be thankful for the Manna of today, and not worry about tomorrow’s. I long to not be as Israel in the wilderness sitting in one miracle while fearing about what’s next. I have to ask the Lord daily ‘Search Me Lord, and expose those areas of my heart & life where I try to do of my own strength”.
I have a group of ladies I trust, who serve the Lord and when I am fearing and after praying I reach out to them to hold me up in prayer too, to hold me accountable to remember “Whose I am, to focus on God’s promises and to firmly believe where my help come from!!”
Thank you for sharing your heart with is and being so vulnerable. God bless!
Kathi Lipp says
Thank you for those wise words Lisa.
Dear Kathi, this sounds like a wonderful approach to life! I also grew up in a household of scarcity. I’m sure it affects how I live today. I would love to explore this concept more! Thank you for sharing your insights with us.
Brenda M. Russell says
Thank you for sharing this message with me and others today.
I have a different perspective now. To accept the reality that God has given humans more than finances to steward. I know that my husband only likes to think about extra funds to save. I think about extra funds to share with our three girls. They make my heart smile.
But now, I see that I have much more to steward and maybe share with others as the Holy Spirit leads me. I have time that God gives me every 24 hours. In school and college it seems to be short (not enough) time. I can pray in private and publicly in my heart. I can share text messages of prayers with others. I have relationships that bring me joy and happiness. I can nurture those relationships and cherish them even more.
God blessed me to enjoy words and I can write to friends and others to encourage them and that’s a good thing. Thank You Lord for all my blessings.
Kathi Lipp says
Brenda – I love your list of resources!
Heather Gibson says
Moving from scarcity occurs with a heart check on my end usually. I landed in this mindset due to my focus being off. I’m less focused on Jesus and more focused on the things around me. Shifting my focus to Him helps shift me from a mindset of scarcity to a mindset of abundance! I AM ABUNDANTLY BLESSED! Far beyond what I deserve. ♡ I have many things to be thankful for and with a heart of thanksgiving, how can I end up with the mindset of scarcity? That’s not really possible, is it?
I struggle with a scarcity mindset too. Whenever I’m tempted to go overboard on shopping or something I remind myself of times past when God provided exactly what I needed just when I needed it. I also try to focus on the fact that what I think I need isn’t always a need but a want.
I have to admit that I struggle with this while trying to live on a ministry salary since my divorce. Thank you for this reminder. Your book sounds really good! Thank you for the opportunity to win. I have to remind myself that God has always provided for me. Doesn’t mean I have a lot of “extras” when I may want them, but He truly supplies for all of my needs.
This has been something I have been battling frequently over the last year. Moves, job changes, and other factors have me often frozen in fear to spend. I find myself not being as generous as I like. Praying and reading scriptures about God’s generosity and providing help.
I haven’t thought about the scarcity mentality too much except for the concept about money. Hmmm this is a lot to ponder. I think have scarcity mentality more over if I have been enough or there enough for my family and friends.
I too, long for a heart of abundance!
Lynn D says
To move away from the scarcity mindset, I start giving. Whether it’s money, food, clothing, time, I stay giving something away. I am reminded of 1 Timothy 6, that Godliness with contentment is great gain., and I give Good the opportunity to remind me I will always have what I need..
Stacey E. says
Wow, this is exactly what I need. Blessings to you.
I could so see myself as I was reading this!! My adult girls say I have a hoarding problem (it really isn’t THAT bad…. 🙂 But I totally get it- growing up as a preacher’s kid with not having what all the cool kids have is tough and I find I sometimes still overcompensate as an adult. I try really hard not to and usually am successful at just staying out of the store unless I really need something. I like to spend my summers (I’m a public school teacher) at our river place or at the beach so that keeps me out of the stores and away from temptation while getting the rest and solace I need from God’s creation. I try to be more generous with others but it is still hard to go through my closet and get rid of things to make room for the new!
I love the resource list that God entrusted you with. It makes a good sticky note to remind me daily of His abundance.
Love how you said— come up with a different idea-/ realizing you didn’t need it in the first place. We so easily get stuck with “I can’t because I don’t… have the house cleaned and everything in its place, I don’t have all the correct ingredients etc…. I cannot wait to read this book!
I love this. I tend to have amazon and door dash at the tap of my fingers and then I wonder why I am over budget.
Growing up in a family below poverty level has left me battling scarcity mindset everyday. I generally fight it by focusing on giving… my time, my attention, my listening ear, and sometimes even money.
Beth Williams says
My parents never made a lot of money. We always had what we needed. They taught us girls the lesson of budgeting. How to live within your means & not have any debt. Those lessons stuck with me through my single years. I would often forgo things/activities that others did/had in order to stay out of debt. It didn’t bother me to live that way. Fast forward to now & I’m married 17 years with no major debt. God has allowed me to work extra hours this fall so I’m becoming more generous with both time & money. I volunteer with Loaves & Fishes food bank a few nights a week & help them with supplies they need. This Christmas I chose two senior angel tree angels. I realize how blessed I am. God has been so good to me that I want to give back & help others. Plus it brings me great joy to know that I’m using my resources to please God.
Pamela Burr says
Kathi, I’m the daughter of a mother who was a child of the Depression. So much of my problems with a sense of scarcity have led to a very messy, overfull house. Thank you for analyzing this issue and bringing deeper understanding to my heart.
God bless you,
Pam from Clatemore ❤
Deanna Day Young says
I think the fear of never having enough just comes so naturally, especially to women. We want to be sure to take care of everyone. I know I found such joy (and maybe even sinful pride haha) in always being the mom that had the Band-Aid, the extra bottle of water or pair of socks at the ballgame or the sewing kit or safety pin at the dance. Sometimes my purse is too heavy to even carry because of the “what if’s” I have in that purse. Kathi’s writing is so soothing and so right on target. Stop, pray and know that God will take care of me and give me the Abundant Life He has for me. I just need to trust. I just got my copy of The Abundant Life devotional in the mail yesterday and I cannot wait to get started on it. Thank you, Kathi for writing this piece on moving away from the scarcity mentality. It is absolute perfect timing as Christmas approaches. Merry Christmas!
Joanna Teigen says
I love this, Kathi! It’s tempting to focus on what I lack instead of all the beautiful things God wants to pour into my life and home this time of year. What a great reminder to simply turn to him in prayer. He truly is the One who can fill whatever feels empty and change my point of view. Thank you!
I don’t do well at getting away from the scarcity mindset. I felt like you were talking to me today. Our backgrounds sound very similar. We had enough when I was growing up but finances were always a source of stress. And over our marriage my husband has had a hard time maintaining employment. So I am in constant fear that there will never be enough. If I could just get past my worry about money, I feel like everything else would be easier. But I need to continue reflecting on God’s faithfulness through my entire life.
Becky Keife says
Oh, friend. This is so relatable and so helpful! Money was tight growing up for me too. I remember our big splurge on Sundays was to go to Taco Bell after church and we were allowed to choose 2 items off the 59cent menu or 3 items off the 39cent menu. If a friend were to come with us, I felt a mix of gratitude and embarrassment for our limitations. Your article makes me want to continue to process the ways I still hold a scarcity mentality. And SO excited about your new book!
This story and message spoke so deeply into my own life and heart. Just now starting college I have had many moments where I questioned if what I had or what I was doing was enough and the whole “doubt and comparison game” started all over again. Reminding myself that God already has a plan for me and my life that is uniquely all my own reminds me to put my full faith in Him. The part of this message that referenced all that God has given us “time, space, energy, creativity” all reminded me that those capabilities bring us closer to Him and His people. They help us to reach out and lift up others. Thank you so much for sharing this piece and your message.
Rhonda Richey says
This…”A heart of scarcity means a heart of fear, and fear is a hard way to live.” That’s been my fight my whole life. Making do and not asking for much. An ex called me a “grueler.” With God’s help, I want to outgrow this.
Tricia Shindle says
I like to keep what I have organized, so that if I feel that I might need something, I can quickly decide if I already have it – or look for a substitute!
Thank you so much for sharing this Kathi! I also grew up with a scarcity mindset. It’s difficult to combat at times!
Kristi Henson says
Seek first the Kingdom. An eternal perspective leads me to let go of ty the temporal.
Why is it so hard to let them out of the things of this Earth? I struggle with this every day.
I love thinking about God providing for us with creativity! I never thought about it that way before, but it definitely shines a new perspective! I may not have what I envision, the circumstances might not be as I wish, but perhaps God has given me a creative way to use what I have to still accomplish what I set out to do, even if in a different way than I had envisioned. Thank you!
LaCinda Halls says
“A heart of scarcity means a heart of fear, and fear is a hard way to live.” So true!
Thank you for your encouragement to shift my perspective to the great giver of good things.. to know deeply of the abundance he desires for his children.
Linda V. says
For me it comes down to fear, for sure. And doing what Jesus did – getting away to pray – is so simple but sometimes the very thing avoid (as I battle busyness and the relentless to-list). Thank you for thinking it through and helping me to work through it, too!
Julie B says
I have struggled for the past two years with my Bible study time. Thanks for the chance to win a copy of “An Abundant Place”
Maggie Sue says
A late-comer, born to parents who lived through The Great Depression as elementary children, I was raised in the 1970’s during inflation, job losses, gas lines, etc. But God…
Malachi 3:10 was such a blessed lesson the Lord taught me. Now, what He so faithfully, and benevolently, provides, I hold in open hands. First, acknowledging it is God’s provision, ergo it is His gifts for me to be Holy Spirit-directed to put to use for His glory. It truly is not mine, so I seek to be His good steward in how it is invested for Hus eternal glory.
And, wow! Is God ever good!!! The looser I hold what He gives (whether tangible or intangible gifts), the more He bestows, the more this vessel blesses other vessels, and so on!
Praise the Lord!!!
Mearla VanDenBerg says
I have to admit having the scarcity mindset. I was too young to receive my husband’s Social Security & we did not have children, and, since the portion of his pension that I received was less & did not start right away, I went through a time of want. God provided in gracious ways, but I tend to buy everyday items in bulk, but not buy more costly things that I need because of the expense.
One thing I have learned to do is bring my concerns to God & express my trust in Him to provide & to guide my thinking with regard to how to relax in His provision.
Andrea Lende says
I understand the scarcity mindset all too well. Growing up, my dad was a pastor – need I say more. As an adult, the economy has given opportunities for layoffs, etc. But with God nothing is impossible. As I draw closer to Him, He shows me abundance in so many ways. Thank you, Kathi, for reminding us how many ways we live abundantly besides, and in addition to, the monetary ways God blesses us.
Lori Young says
This line, “Scarcity mindset comes from believing money is the only resource God has entrusted me with.” It’s got me all choked up inside and filled to overflowing with gratitude. Thank you Kathi. As always, your words have left a mark.
Chu Hui Davies says
Such an answer to prayer- I was just pondering on this, wondering how reducing our income to 1 and praying as I did errands with my youngest and then whilst he was napping, I thought to just find some encouragement here and this was the first article! Thank you!
Kim Church says
Thank you so much for the great encouragement on the blog! Merry Christmas and have a blessed day!
I love the 3 results of prayer! It is so fun to see how God answers prayers especially when we have an open heart and mind to see His answer rather than miss it by only focusing on how we expect Him to answer.
Steph Beth Nickel says
Ever since I heard that those who have food, clothes, shelter, and access to transportation are in the 99th percentile of the world’s population, I’ve realized just how blessed I am … although there are times I wonder what things will be like after my hubby retires in 2025.
Leslie Newman says
Love the reminders here that we often have more than we believe we do. The reminder that God gives us another idea is a good one for me today! Thank you for the encouragement and reminder that it’s prayer that keeps our scarcity mindset at bay. We have so much to receive when we get away to a place of abundance!