The Consumer vs. The Provider

My Daughter
The best things do not come from Amazon Prime. (My daughter is an exception.)

I’ve been thinking this morning about how people in this country seem to have a consumer or a provider mindset. This mindset can change, but yet switching between them takes energy and willpower. I have come to believe that spending more time in the provider mindset adds greater value to your life than time spent in the consumer mindset.

While getting together with my friend Scott Sax and some of his closest friends I heard his brother Ben comment on how the “Netflix Binge Watching” approach to TV “comes from our desire to consume as much as we can as quickly as we can”. The image that came to mind is that of locusts ripping through a field devouring everything around them. Or  a mosquito that will eat until it is brushed off or bursts.

  • Consumers feed themselves. Providers feed others.
  • Consumers struggle to seem important. Providers lead through example.
  • Providers create. Consumers devour.
  • Providers give. Consumers take.
  • Providers are interested in what others need and want. Consumers are interested in what they want.
  • Providers build wealth. Consumers tend to stay broke.
  • Providers build security. Consumers cycle between desire and fear. (A concept taken from the terrific book Rich Dad / Poor Dad)
  • Providers seek to learn. Consumers seek entertainment.
  • Providers grow. Consumers stagnate.

Personally, I STRUGGLE to move from the consumer mindset and yet EVERYTHING I WANT TO BE resides on the provider side. My wife encourages me constantly in this battle. She is a practically perfect example of a provider. When she spends, it is on clothes for the kids or something that improves our home environment. Other than charitable giving her dollars stay put. How frustrating it must be when her husband easily drops $20 on a Star Wars Blu-ray, a few iPhone apps, and the latest gadget.

In their book The Resolution for Men Stephen and Alex Kendrick explain the dangers of this kind of consumerism on families: “Men today spend more time watching TV or surfing the Internet than in meaningful conversation with their children. If his children are with dad while he’s being entertained, then the television becomes their influence instead. And it is a lousy father.”

But aren’t we all consumers and providers?  Yes, but the point is which is your focus?

Remember this old story?

The Two Wolves

An old Cherokee is teaching his grandson about life. “A fight is going on inside me,” he said to the boy.
“It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One is evil – he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.” He continued, “The other is good – he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. The same fight is going on inside you – and inside every other person, too.”
The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, “Which wolf will win?”
The old Cherokee simply replied, “The one you feed.”

  • Steps Forward
    • Principled
    • Health
      • Heart (relationships)
      • Spirit (love)


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