What would you think of a medical doctor who tried to treat your illness without really knowing what was wrong with you? When you enter his office he doesn’t ask what your symptoms are, doesn’t order any tests, but instead, brings in his nurse and begins to put a cast on your leg even though there is nothing wrong with your leg. Undoubtedly you would think, “What a quack this guy is!” and quickly leave to find another doctor. Obviously what you really need is someone who takes the time to understand what your medical needs are and knows how to meet them. We need to take the same approach with all our needs whether they are physical, social, psychological, or spiritual.
God, unlike a doctor, understands all of our needs because He created us with them. He also has provided us with the means to get our needs met. Yet there seems to be confusion in the church today about how our needs are to be met. Some seem to imply (or state directly) that all we need to do is wait and trust God, and then He will, in some supernatural way, supply everything we need. It is true that God is the ultimate source who will meet all our needs. We should seek Him, laying our needs before Him. The Bible says He knows our needs and wants to meet them (Matthew 6:25-33).
But, will He meet our needs directly or indirectly through other means? The answer to that question depends on what the need is.
God created the world and its inhabitants, and it is through this world that He meets our needs. For instance, we all need air to breathe, and God created air, and He created our lungs to be able to receive and absorb it. He even created us so that we breathe involuntarily. So, God is involved by providing the air, our lungs and the mechanism of breathing, but we are the ones who breathe. I would posit that God is rarely the only one involved in meeting our needs.
One might say it was God alone who provided us with salvation. If that is true, then why isn’t everyone a Christian? The answer is that we need to receive the salvation that is offered in order for it to be ours. So, to get this need met we must do something: accept it by faith. A major need is for relationship both with God and with people. God has designed us so that some of our needs can only be met by other people, just as some of our needs can only be met by Him.
Some people believe that it is selfish to focus on our needs. This suggestion may lead a person to conclude that it is never right to think about our own needs. However, thinking about our own needs or even seeking to get them met is not selfish. Selfishness is focusing exclusively on our own needs and ignoring everyone else’s. It is being concerned only about oneself. The truth is that we should think about our needs. After all, they are “our” needs; they are not someone else’s. And because they are our needs, they are our responsibility, and it is our stewardship to get them met. We should consider our needs and develop a plan to meet them. There are several ingredients involved in getting our needs met.
Recognize and acknowledge your needs.
A need must be recognized before it can be addressed. In the last Pocket Principle we defined four of our primary needs: our need for God, worth, impact and relationship. But this is not a complete list of our needs. In fact, if one were to sit and brainstorm about the myriad needs that we have, there would be an amazingly long list which would include needs such as: safety, food, shelter, beauty, sexual intimacy, adventure and so on.
Because of concerns about appearing weak, some people have difficulty admitting that they have needs. Yet there is no weakness in admitting that we are just like other human beings! It is important to be honest with others and ourselves and admit our frail, human condition. Such an admission helps us to seek God as we should and to accept help from others when we need it. Many people have suffered needlessly in their lives because they will not admit their need for help.
Put yourself in a position to get needs met.
Getting needs met is not an automatic process. It often takes planning and hard work. It is like any other goal we set out to accomplish. It requires something of us. If I want to grow a garden, I cannot just snap my fingers and produce plants. I will need to find a good location, till the ground, plant the seeds, water, fertilize and weed the garden. It is time-consuming and hard work, but it brings a bountiful harvest. Getting our needs met works the same way. It is challenging work, but the benefits are tremendous.
When we are trying to get our relationship needs met, it is not enough to wait for someone else to initiate a friendship with us. We need to take the initiative. We need to go where people are; find people with common interests and needs; reach out and spend time with them; open up and be honest with them about who we are and what is going on in our lives; and be a friend to them.
It may take time to find others that we can feel close to, but in the end, the joy these efforts can bring into our lives is enormous. We need to be careful to seek to get our needs met in ways that please God. In order to meet our needs, we should not demand or pressure people or become involved in immorality or try to please and manipulate others.
Following is a list of healthy ways to get needs met:
1. God will meet many of our needs as we go to Him through spiritual disciplines. Spiritual disciplines are activities such as Bible study, prayer, fellowship and acts of service. As we build these disciplines into our lives, God ministers both to us and through us. He will guide us and give us the insight and wisdom about our needs, among other things.
2. Be willing to ask for and receive help during times of great need and crisis. There are times in our lives when the burdens of life are too heavy for one person to carry. It is at those times that we need to let others know our needs and be willing to let them help us. We also need to help others when they have needs.
3. When we seek help from others, we need to be careful to approach the right kind of people. We need to seek help from people who are willing to help without expecting anything in return and who have our best interest in mind. We also need to seek help from people who are able to help. For instance, we should seek help from a mature Christian when we are in a difficult situation or a counselor when we can’t solve a marriage problem.
4. Take action to do something that will lead to needs being met. For instance, we can join a support group to be with people who have gone through a crisis similar to ours. We can make a doctor’s appointment when we are physically ill.
Recognize that all your needs will not be met perfectly in this life.
Because we live in a fallen, broken world and because sin and temptation will always be with us, our needs will never be perfectly met. They can be substantially met, but never fully met. It is like the old saying, “If you ever find the perfect church, don’t join it because you will ruin it.” Perfect doesn’t exist in this world except in God Himself. So we must develop realistic expectations in this life.
For example, take our need for impact. This need can be met through a ministry or job situation where we are able to use our abilities to make a positive difference or contribution. But we will never do things perfectly or have a perfect result. We need to be satisfied with good enough and not expect perfection.
Ultimately, the perfect meeting of our needs will occur when we are with Christ (Philippians 3:20,21; I Corinthians 15:51-54).
When we die physically, we continue to live spiritually and go to be with Christ. What a day that will be! Eventually Jesus will return for His people and all those with Christ will be reunited with their bodies and those who are still alive will be changed in a twinkling of an eye from mortality to immortality. Our new bodies will be perfect and will never wear out.
In the meantime, before Christ returns, we need to recognize needs in our lives that are not being met and develop a realistic plan designed to meet these needs in a healthy way. It is our responsibility and not anyone else’s to do this. We need to take responsibility for our own lives and needs, while not ignoring the needs of others.
• Meditate on II Corinthians 1:3-5
• Write out a plan designed to meet your most pressing felt need in a healthy way. Share this plan with someone who can hold you accountable.
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