Camp Abundance versus Camp Scarcity

November 1, 2023

By Mara Hodler

A friend of mine told me that when she was young, even though her family was close and they loved one another very much, fairness was always an issue. She said that when her mom brought home a pie or ice cream for dessert, she and her brother fought over who got the bigger piece. The quibbling over dessert portions was so stressful for her mom that she kept a scale near the dining table and literally weighed out each plate of dessert to make sure it was even to the gram. That was their family policy for years.

This got me thinking about how easy it is to view life through the “there’s only so much pie” paradigm. For example, if your mom offers a pie for dessert and first gives your brother a huge piece, it means there’s less pie for you, right? Of course, that is actually true when it comes to pie, but that’s not the case with most other things in life.

However, there’s a tendency for each of us to be either a believer in scarcity or in abundance.

If you’re in Camp Scarcity, you believe that things like love, ideas, opportunities, imagination, and resources are limited. Each of those things is like a pie that is being sliced up, and every time someone gets a piece of one, you believe there is less left for you. As you can imagine, there is very little goodwill in Camp Scarcity. People look out for themselves. People aren’t afraid to snatch a piece of pie from someone else, because if you don’t fight for your piece, you might not get any. If you’re lucky enough to snag a piece of pie, you don’t even have time to enjoy it. You have to scarf it down, because there’s always the chance that someone might be scheming to grab your pie. Having personally spent some time in Camp Scarcity, I can tell you that it’s downright depressing there!

Camp Abundance is a totally different camp. In Camp Abundance, everyone shares the belief that love, ideas, opportunities, imagination, and resources are limitless. In this camp, there is a lot of celebration. People enjoy lots of pie! When someone finds a great pie shop, they recommend it to everyone, instead of trying to keep it a secret. Recipes are swapped, improved, and customized. One thing is certain in Camp Abundance: No one is ever going to run out of pie! In fact, most people share the belief that the best pies are yet to be created, yet to be enjoyed, and yet to be shared.

It really is an odd thing, because in Camp Scarcity there actually does seem to be less and less pie. Everyone is worried about the day when the last bite of pie will be eaten. What then? Will it be the end of love, ideas, imagination, resources, and opportunities? The end of happiness and good things? No one makes any connection between God and pies. You’re on your own, and when it comes to getting your pie, you’d better get it while the getting’s good.

But in Camp Abundance, no one fears running out of pie. They’re constantly coming up with new ingredients to make pies, new twists on old classic recipes, new ways to transport pies, and better ways to make more of them. There is an understanding that “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows” (James 1:17). No one worries that one day God is going to decide that He’s given out all the pie He’s ever going to give.

When I first recognized these two camps, I quickly came to the sad conclusion that I spent a lot more time in Camp Scarcity than I did in Camp Abundance. I seldom thought that the best was yet to come. I more often thought that disaster was looming in the near future. When I saw others blessed, I often felt that there was consequently less “good” left for me. I was definitely missing out on the party in Camp Abundance!

So you know what I did? I packed up and I moved camps. I found Camp Abundance to be very welcoming. They definitely had a “the more the merrier” take on things. I started believing that the best was yet to come—for me, for my family and friends, and for everyone around me.

All of a sudden, I had a lot to share. I wasn’t running out of ideas, resources, opportunities, or love. It was easy to be generous when I knew that there was no need to hoard. It was easy to celebrate others’ “wins,” because I saw there were plenty of “wins” to go around. Moving to Camp Abundance was a very good decision!

The above pie stories showcase two paradigms that you can model your life on, and whichever paradigm you adopt will become your reality. The Bible says: “Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously” (2 Corinthians 9:6).

You have the power to decide which camp you want to live in. Would you rather a camp where you’re always on the brink of famine, with dwindling love, ideas, resources, and opportunity? Or a camp where the greatest opportunities, best ideas, richest resources, and deepest love are yet to come, with enough to go around for everyone? Choose your camp, or should I say choose your reality, carefully.

This article was adapted from a Just1Thing podcast, a Christian character-building resource for young people.

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