The Mentalities That Guide Choices

Chapter Two

This last year I’ve learned about three different perspectives from which people operate: Poor Mentality, Middle Class Mentality, and Rich Mentality. I’m generally turned off by discussions about money, so I want to clarify up front that these mentalities are about more than money. It’s about patience, goal setting, responsibility, faith, and risk. This can be applied to every area of your life.

Poor Mentality is a “right now” perspective. The dollar is something you have to spend before it disappears. The concept of the future is abstract, so it’s harder to see the benefit of saving or investing. Generally, it’s more about immediate gratification. This paycheck-to-paycheck existence keeps them in the same spot with no forward mobility and when life hits them, it hits them hard. They have no resources to bounce back. It’s the “little pig” who build his house of straw. The upside to this mentality is that they are generally very generous. They share what they have, even when it’s not much.

Middle Class Mentality is also a “right now” perspective. The dollar is something you have to spend to show you had it to spend. The concept of the future holds a better, more responsible version of themselves. Saving and investing is something they plan to do later. Generally, it’s more about having status and showing that status with their things. They collect debt and live paycheck-to-paycheck to pay that debt. When they get a raise, they get more debt. The upside to this is that they’re the one’s who throw great parties. They buy the fireworks and they have the boat.

Rich Mentality is a long-term perspective. The dollar is something they can hire to make extra pennies for them. Their concept of the future is that it begins in the present. Saving and investing is almost like a sport. Instead of collecting liabilities (bills), they collect assets. They collect ways to make the dollars they earn, earn dollars itself. It multiplies and compounds. They’ve seen the results of patience and goal setting, which leads to more patience and more goal setting. The downside to this is that they want everyone else to have the same tenacity and drive. This means that they won’t bail you out because they want you to learn how to fight.

These are generalizations, but the frame is solid. I think that you can apply these mentalities to so many areas of life: working out, saving up, preparing for a blurry future so you can be ready when it’s clear, and answering when God calls you to level up. People can complain that they don’t get the same opportunities as others, but I don’t think that’s always true. I think that opportunities come along all the time, but you have to be ready for them. You have to prepare before you know what you’re preparing for.

The story that Jesus told in Matthew 25 shows that he values patience, goal setting, responsibility, faith, and risk. They go hand in hand. You’ve been given a certain amount to take care of. Your children, your finances, and your gifts are all things that God wants you to multiply. If he wants you to do something, and has entrusted you with it, then success is possible. You just have to do the work.

With children, you give them your wisdom and show them what God has taught you. It multiplies within them. Teach them like you’re training them for the future. Teach them to set goals, to wait, and to do the tedious steps to get somewhere else. With finances, you learn how to manage it so that it doesn’t manage you. In the Dave Ramsey spirit, you tell it what to do so that doesn’t leave you or turn you into a slave of debt. With your gifts, you use your gifts to fill a need that you’ve been strategically placed to fill. Gifts make you different, and it’s risky to step into your purpose when it means doing something different or new. It feels vulnerable, but you can’t lead without that feeling. Living this way multiplies the territory that God has given you. I think that’s what Matthew 25 is trying to inspire us to do. We’re supposed to think of our here and now lives as something for which we’re responsible.

If you knew that none of this was yours: your body, your family, your money, or your gifts… that it was only given to you for a short time and that you were supposed to grow it and take care of it, what would you do different?