The Poverty mindset is something we hear talked about in churches or by Christians but what is it? Is it different to the poverty spirit? Let’s find out!
I believe that poverty mindset is a term given to help us understand a certain way of thinking or viewing the world that can affect our daily life. I personally believe that it’s the same as a poverty spirit. It might be that having a poverty mindset/ spirit means the enemy gets a foothold in our lives where he shouldn’t have but the roots of our poverty mindset/ spirit are often found in our past, the way we have been brought up, the wounds we have received and the way we have been taught.
I like Mother Teresa’s quote “We think sometimes that poverty is only being naked, hungry, homeless. The poverty of being unwanted, unloved and uncared for is the greatest poverty. We must start in our own homes to remedy this kind of poverty.” True poverty effects not only our bank book but is the way we live life. Sadly, you can be a in a palace and be poor!
How do we identify if we have the poverty mindset? I’ve devised a few short questions to help you.
- How anxious are you?
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians v 6,7
You might be wondering what anxiety has to do with having a poverty mindset but anxiety shows us where our trust is. Do we trust in God to provide and care for us or are we anxious about provision and how things will work out?
Anxiety is a key indicator that we are trusting in ourselves and not in God. We get anxious because we know are powerless on our own to make changes or provide for all our needs, so as soon as we start trusting in ourselves rather than Him we get anxious.
Our response needs to be as Paul suggests here that in every situation we turn to God, not with demands and stamping our feet but with thanksgiving, turning our hearts and affection to Him so that we can allow His peace to flood this. I think this is why Paul was able to say that in any situation He was able to be content but He was so used to turning to God, being thankful and presenting his needs to God.
I don’t know about you but if I’m honest there are times when I don’t do this… and it is those times I feel anxiety and get overwhelmed by things. A few weeks ago I was making a choice about an important trip I was beginning to get the paperwork ready, but then in the middle of that I lost my peace and suddenly started to feel completely overwhelmed with it- I could feel the rising panic… so I went into the kitchen and played, as loudly as I could, a worship song – It is well with my soul – and I kept worshipping until I felt some peace again. I don’t know if we will ever be in the place where anxiety or difficulties don’t threaten to overwhelm us at times but our response in those moments is key – do we allow anxiety to flood us or do we turn to him in thanksgiving and present our needs?
- Do you allow a mistake to derail you?
Do you wonder why we have in so much detail some of the old testament characters? Yes it tells us the big story of God and his rescue plan for us, but on a personal level I find it so encouraging because you get this glimpse of real people making real mistakes and how to respond.
Looking at the lives of Saul and David -we see two men one, both leaders, both warriors, both made mistakes but only one of them was said to be a man after Gods own heart. Whats the difference?
When Saul made a mistake – he allowed it to derail him, he covered it up and didn’t repent and come to God,
Saul said, ‘The Lord bless you! I have carried out the Lord’s instructions 1 samuel 16 v 13 It’s unbelievable he lies to Samuel – a prophet!
David when he sins, he makes repents and turns to God Create in me a pure heart, O God,
and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Psalm 51 v 10
So whats our response when we make a mistake – do we wallow in it? Do we cover it up? Or do we go to God? Do we seek help? Do you deal with what you need to deal with and then get back to what God has called you to?
A mistake shows us that there is something that we need to deal with- sin is a symptom of a lie we are believing about ourselves or God. And we believe that lie because there is something we need to deal with.
So we have two choices when we make a mistake we can cover up, internally thinking that’s just who I am or we can deal with it. Sozo is a great way to deal with it- as it helps us get to the root and deal with the deep wounds and lies that keep us in negative behaviour.
I am not saying it’s easy – when I get something wrong sometimes I don’t want to face the challenge of dealing with it but I have come to learn it is deal with and have some pain or leave it and face a lot more…
- Do you think that you are the provider for your needs?
Therefore, I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Matthew 6 v 25,26
If you are being really honest who do you think provides for your needs? Do you think it is you? Or do you think it is God?
I think it is very easy to give the quick answer and say yes we trust God but lets be real – when there is more month than money what do you do? Do you grab every bit of overtime? Do you panic about where bills are going to be paid from? Or do you ignore your finances and let them get into a mess?
Our response in stressed times gives us a clue as to where think our provision is coming from…there have been plenty of times in my life where I have had more bills than money coming in and I’ve learnt again and again that trusting God is always the way to go and He has always provided.
- Are you unable to give and be generous?
One person gives freely, yet gains even more;
another withholds unduly, but comes to poverty.
A generous person will prosper;
whoever refreshes others will be refreshed Proverbs 11 v 24,25
The poverty mindset looks at what you have got, compares you to other people and says I can’t afford to give. It holds onto the money and says I can’t afford to give. The focus is on there isn’t enough and so it makes no sense for me to give. I have seen this so often people who say to me but I have a low income and I cant afford to give, my bills are greater than my income and so I can’t give now.
However the kingdom doesn’t work on human principles and logic- generosity is the way to be in the Kingdom! And it is generosity that is a key to breaking the poverty spirit. It may not seem logical but it is. When I was a kid I learnt to give with the little pocket money I had so that even when I left home and I was living on the £2300 student grant I still gave first and then lived on what was left, this is a principle I have lived with all my life. I believe the minimum we should be giving is a tithe (10%) but I actually believe that the NT teaches its not about how little we give but how little we keep. (more on this in a future blog)
The issue is not with us understanding that but if you have a poverty mindset the bottom line is that you will struggle to give and be generous not because you don’t understand biblical teaching but because you there never being enough is not about the size of your income, but the belief there is not enough because you aren’t worth it. So you will hoard and keep hold of what you have and hoard things when they do come your way.
Dealing with the root about your worth is a key to being able to be generous. If you don’t understand who you are and whose you are, you will never learn to be generous.
- Do you give up and feel like you will never succeed?
You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives. Genesis 50 v 20
A poverty mindset looks at the challenges and believes that they can’t be conquered, a poverty mindset sees the restrictions and no longer dreams.
If we think for a moment about Josephs story – he had a dream and he held onto that through his brothers selling him into slavery, through his time in Potiphar’s house and time in prison and through the years before he was reunited with his family. He could have thrown in the towel when his brothers sold him into slavery but he doesn’t, he could have when Potiphar accuses him of something he doesn’t, he could have when the baker forgets to recommend him to pharaoh but he doesn’t, Joseph holds onto the dream despite the odds.
But a poverty mindset will let go of the dream, will wallow in nothing good happens to me, things don’t work out for me, a poverty mindset will blame others for the lack of success and be bitter when others succeed. A poverty mindset gives up.
A few years ago when we were in a difficult place – it would have been easier to walk away, to give up and stop! . But we didn’t because God had given dreams and we hung onto them- not easy to do but we did it.
So how did you do?
If we are honest for most of us we will have had some that we scored high on! So what do we do about it… yes we need to start holding onto our dreams rather than giving up on it, yes we need to start being generous rather than making excuses, yes we need to start believing the truth that God is our provider, yes we need to pick ourselves up when we make a mistake and try again, yes we need to stop focusing on the problem BUT at the root of all this what we need most is to deal with the root of the poverty spirit – which is there will never be enough because I’m not worth it, not wanted, loved or cared for.
How do you deal with these roots? Have a financial Sozo !!