So many people live in a scarcity mindset. This causes jealousy and self-destructive behavior in relationships. These people intrinsically believe there’s only a limited amount and I might not have enough. For example, when bosses sabotage their up-and-coming star employees, they’re afraid and threatened by another’s success because of a scarcity mindset. “If you succeed, there won’t be enough for me.”
Healthy and Unhealthy Abundance
The opposite of a scarcity mindset is an abundance mindset, the intrinsic belief that’s there’s enough to go around. I’m not threatened by your success, and I can even help you achieve the success I want, because I believe there’s plenty to go around. But there are two kinds of abundance mindsets, an unhealthy one and a healthy one. And they seem sometimes only a millimeter apart, but the end difference is huge. And they are separated by one thing.
Entitlement is the unhealthy abundance mindset. Samson lived in entitlement (see Judges 13–16). He had very little relationship with God, or he couldn’t have lived a life style that broke God’s heart. His lifestyle spit in God’s face. He lived with Delilah, a Philistine woman obviously bent on betraying him. She finally did betray him, and it did not end well for Samson. He took his gifting for granted. He was entitled.
David, on the other hand, lived in inheritance, which is the healthy abundance mindset. When facing Goliath, they both knew this was a fight to the death, that one of them would die that day. But David was like, “I can’t die today because I’ve got a prophesy from Samuel that I’m going to be the next king of Israel. So who does that leave, Goliath? Stinks to be you.” He ran to the battle line, living in the power of his inheritance. (see 1 Samuel 17:48).
David wasn’t perfect, far from it, but his sin (adultery with Bathsheba and murdering her husband Uriah, see 1 Samuel 11) was an isolated incident, not a lifestyle like Samson’s was. David repented and was broken over it when God confronted him (1 Samuel 12 and Psalm 51).
That doesn’t make it ok, and David lived in the consequences of that sin the rest of his life, as it played itself out breaking his heart in his family. His children raped and murdered each other (1 Samuel 13). He had to run for his life when they came after him (1 Samuel 15). And he had to pretend to be happy about it when his son was killed (1 Samuel 18).
David had a rich relationship with God. You can read it in the Psalms, the most raw book in the Bible. Sometimes David starts out yelling at God (see Psalm 13), but he always ends up trusting in God’s goodness. David lived in inheritance — the reality that the favor on his life was not his own. It was given to him. Samson trusted in his own strength and his own devices — that lie that he owned the favor in his life. Samson lived in entitlement.
The Difference between Entitlement and Inheritance
So what, at the practical level, is the difference between living in entitlement and living it inheritance? How do we cultivate one over the other? This one thing makes all the difference. Gratitude.
Gratitude is the difference between entitlement and inheritance. (Thank you Kris Vallotton!)
Here’s the key to living in gratitude.
Be the Steward, not the King. In The Lord of the Rings, conflict arises between Gandalf and Denethor, the Steward of Gondor, because Denethor wants to be king. Denethor wants to own stuff. While he’s more concerned about blocking the return of the true king of Gondor (Aragorn) than he is about stewarding his kingdom well, orcs overrun his city because he’s let the defenses go to pot. Denethor lived in entitlement, and it blinded him to the real threat.
4 Ways to Live in Gratitude
Here’s 4 practical examples of living this out, of living in gratitude and the healthy abundance mindset that inheritance brings:
- Don’t own anything. I don’t mean physically, of course we own stuff. I mean at a heart level. Don’t let yourself become emotionally (or spiritually) attached to stuff that’s all going to burn anyway. Take care of the material blessings God has given you as if they are not your own, but belong to a dear friend. Steward material blessings well.
- Don’t own your body. You didn’t create your body. God did. Don’t give it over to sexual immorality. Only sleep with your spouse (after you’re married). Eat well and exercise. Not out of obligation, but because you love Jesus who gave it to you. We don’t really love someone if our lifestyle doesn’t honor them. Steward your body well.
- Don’t own your life. You didn’t choose to be born. God made your life and gave it to you. Choose to pursue your calling, that thing that makes your heart leap when you think about it. It may not outwardly look like the most responsible thing or make you the most money. But it will be the most profitable because it’s what God created you to do. God put that desire in your heart. Steward your life well.
- In humility, value others above yourselves (Philippians 2:3). This doesn’t mean allowing the narcissists to run all over you. That would be allowing the life God gave you to be abused, and that’s not good stewardship. It means a healthy balance between being generous to others while allowing others the blessing of being generous to you. It means treating people with the value they have to God (which may be, out of their wounding, very different than how they are behaving at the moment). Steward your relationships well.
Living in the healthy abundance mindset of inheritance, a.k.a., gratitude, is the greatest adventure you’ll ever pursue. With an infinite God, there’s always more. So what are we waiting for? Let’s kill entitlement with gratitude!