A Dangerous Enemy

As typical siblings do, my sister and I fought over EVERYTHING when we were growing up.  We knew how to push each others’ buttons and we thoroughly enjoyed doing it.  Most times our battles were over who got the last piece of cake, who got to sit in the front seat of the car, or whose favorite TV show we got to watch.

Our battles were usually over things that were limited – scarce.

We learn to fear scarcity at an early age.  The fear of not having enough causes us to race to beat others to get what we want.  Before we know it this mentality infiltrates every part of our lives.

  • We’re afraid of a friend (or colleague) becoming better friends with someone else so we don’t make the introduction
  • We’re afraid the store might run out of that fancy new thing we want so we slap our credit card down and impulsively buy it
  • We keep our freezers stocked because we don’t want to go hungry
  • We give our financial resources sparingly because we’re afraid we won’t have enough for retirement
  • We don’t celebrate the accomplishment of a co-worker because we’re afraid they’ll get promoted sooner

We hoard.

We keep.

We guard.

We protect.

I believe that this mindset of scarcity is one of the most dangerous enemies to great leadership.  Our unwillingness to champion others, to give to others, or to make a way for others is a dangerous place to find ourselves.

In our efforts to guard and protect ourselves we actually sabotage our leadership influence.

Scarcity is in opposition to great leadership because I believe one of the greatest responsibilities of leaders is to generously develop, inspire, and empower those you lead.

If you are constantly protecting what you have, you rarely have time to invest in the people around you.

A generous man will prosper; he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed.”

Proverbs 11:25

I’ll be honest, scarcity can get the best of me.  It’s one of the greatest challenges to my leadership.

How about you?  Do you battle scarcity?  What do you do to combat it in your life?

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  • David Grant February 11, 2010  

    Thanks for the post Jenni.

    "We don’t celebrate the accomplishment of a co-worker because we’re afraid they’ll get promoted sooner"

    This is especially important for those who lead others. Our job is to make them the hero and do whatever it takes to make them successful, even if they get the credit.

    Thanks for the reminder.

    • jcatron February 11, 2010  

      Thanks for chiming in David!!

  • mommycub` February 11, 2010  

    Girl! That was great wisdom! Ha ha! I remember the fighting over the front seat with my sisters… ahhhh memories… I'd like to forget. 😉 I have struggled with all of those "scarcities" at different times in my life, and if it weren't for the voice of the Holy Spirit dragging me back to health, I would have been swallowed up by it. More ways God saves me from myself!!

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  • Lindsey_Nobles February 11, 2010  

    Yes. All the time. And it's so crazy because I have always had enough.

    • jcatron February 11, 2010  

      Lindsey – great point, I have always had enough.

  • Grant February 11, 2010  

    Wow! Great post, Jenni. I do find myself wrestling with some of these same issues often. It seems like the older we get, the objects of our obsession change and we find ourselves afraid of scarcity or losing something because it defines us more than we are comfortable admitting. "That's mine" somehow becomes "that's me", and if you take "mine", THEN who will I be? I'm learning to live open-handed more and more. I really appreciate your perspective here.

    • jcatron February 11, 2010  

      Grant – I love the idea of living "open-handed". I need that mental picture to keep me focused when scarcity creeps in.

  • Rc Areneau February 12, 2010  


    Great post. Have wrestled with this a great deal over the last few months. Ironically, I have found the struggle with the mindset of scarcity only INCREASES with the more stuff or money that I have. The less I have, the less I am fearful of loss. I think it is one of the reasons Jesus challenged the rich young ruler with a final act of selling all he had and giving to the poor. It wasn't just an empty command, it was a "next step" in life-changing transformation of following Christ. The result… the absence of fear. It is beautiful and mysterious the way God works.

    • jcatron February 12, 2010  

      Rc – that's so true, the more we have the more we seem to hoard. Ridiculous, huh?

  • brewster February 12, 2010  

    This is a post of Rock Star proportions. Wow. Great stuff.

    • jcatron February 12, 2010  

      Thanks Brewster!

  • Kyle Reed February 12, 2010  

    Very timely post.
    I am battling this right now. Call it insecurity or whatever you want, but I am working daily in battle the idea that others are getting more then mean that because they are getting more opportunities as well as getting more recognition I am therefore decreasing in worth and value. It seems that I focus on what others get that I lose focus on what I have.

    • jcatron February 12, 2010  

      Great point Kyle! I lose sight too easily of all that I'm blessed with because I'm focused on what others have.

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