Tensions – Abundance Mentality vs Scarcity Mentality

If you ever want to observe a fun social experiment, go with a small group of people to an Italian Restaurant like Olive Garden.  When you get a table and your drinks, usually the next thing that comes is the bread sticks.  If your experience is anything like mine – the number of bread sticks will not match the number of people at the table.  And here is where the social experiment begins!  Which person is eyeing the extra bread stick looking to take it before it is gone?  Which person sits quietly looking at the basket – not wanting to be “that guy” who took the last one?  This whole experience and tension is funny – because we know there are so many more bread sticks than the few sitting at our table!  There is a kitchen full of bread sticks in the same building!

The battle over bread sticks is funny.  But when that battle plays itself out in the process of growing volunteer teams…it is less than funny.  Within a ministry context there is always a need for more volunteers.  Team leaders constantly feel the pressure to fill one more spot, to cover one more position, to have one more person in the mix.  When leading a volunteer team it is normal to feel like there are never enough people to meet the need.  The beauty of this mindset is it forces leaders to keep looking for people who belong on the team – people want to feel valued and needed.  When taken to an extreme this mindset can cause us to fight to keep people on the team even when it is not the best thing for them.  This pressure can drive leaders to operate from a scarcity mentality – the idea that there is never enough to meet the need.

There is another mindset that leaders can fall into.  It is the mentality that we are here to help people discover their passions and gifting, and then connect them to meaningful volunteer opportunities that match their wiring.  People have a desire to not only feel valued and needed, but to serve in a place where they can do their best.  This mindset when taken to an extreme removes all ownership or responsibility from the leader when it comes to staffing volunteer positions.  This is called an abundance mentality – the belief that there are far more volunteers out there than we could ever hope to involve.

Driven to the extremes neither of these perspectives is healthy.  The scarcity mentality should sit in tension with the abundance mentality.  We must lead with an internal confidence believing God can and will provide the people to fill our volunteer spots.  We must also lead with an external diligence that continually works to bring the next volunteer onto the team.  As you look at your team – How can you lead in abundance when it feels like scarcity?

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