I can still remember the room I was in at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay about 28 years ago when teaching school guidance counselors and administrators. To help them in their difficult jobs, three colleagues and I invited them to campus for a one-day seminar.
Why do I still remember the room? Because God used this experience to mature my faith in Him in significant and personal ways. He also taught me something relevant that I still use today.
We were teaching content designed to help children develop healthy beliefs about themselves and optimistic attitudes about the future. The program was based on five core needs that must be met for children (and all of us): security, identity, belonging, purpose, and competence.
My colleagues and I had chosen which of the five needs we wanted to teach. Because of our university teaching schedule, we had to teach them out of the recommended order. We initially didn’t think it would matter, but our teaching felt off to me every time we taught it. Half-way through one of these days, God showed me two undeniable truths. Have you had a lightning bolt experience of a deep ah-ha? Then you know what I experienced.
- The order of the core needs matters greatly. Security – Who can I trust? – must be first. It’s the firm foundation for the other needs.
- Without God meeting people’s needs, our training, at best, helped people change behavior. We weren’t changing hearts. In other words, we were teaching, “If you do these things, you can have these results.” My colleagues and those who attended didn’t see the problem. They were satisfied. We taught solid ideas that made sense. But, I was increasingly concerned that changes wouldn’t last.
God used these experiences to sensitize me to how He meets our needs. Teaching the order of the needs correctly made the program effective. Adding truths about God so I could take it from the university to the church made it powerful. Including God’s heart meant people I was instructing would have to involve theirs. Heart transformation was now more likely. Now lives and not just behavior could be made new. He rather than me made all the difference in the world.
All those many years ago, I began to adapt the material we taught into the Five Core Needs Model I now teach and write about regularly. (My book, Finding Authentic Hope and Wholeness explains the needs in depth.) I’m now excited to be embarking on another tremendously appealing adaptation of that content by working with Mary Margaret Gibson and EvanTell to create “Authentic Life: Our Needs, God’s Answers,” especially for use in their Save the Mother, Save her Child (SMSC) pregnancy resource centers. These Core Needs’ truths will cause more abortion-vulnerable women to choose life. Those who don’t yet know Christ personally can learn why and how to believe in Him. The Core Needs make the Gospel especially relevant for this generation with a heart-connection deficit.
Maybe more than ever before, young people need something solid and dependable. No, they need someONE who is. People are messy, and our culture is, too. Do you see the lies that allow Millennials and others to confuse wants with needs? How about “I want it now, anything goes, I’m more important than you are, I must be happy, it must be easy, I want a better choice, you can’t tell me what to do, I can’t be bored, my opinion matters more than yours, I must have fun, and I need the best”?
It’s understandable that young people think these are needs and “must haves.” Technology, social media, and the media proclaim that these are the things that matter. But, they’re wants. They’re counterfeits. Rather than settling us because needs are actually met, they make us want more. They may not be illegal drugs, but they’re like “adrenaline drugs” and almost as dangerous. It’s easy for any of us to be tempted to prioritize these above a vibrant relationship with Jesus Christ. We each must ask God to “Turn my eyes away from worthless things; preserve my life according to your word” (Psalm 119:37).
Just a few nights ago, I taught a group of women about our legitimate need for security, identity, belonging, purpose, and competence. The night quickly transitioned from a teaching time to a ministry time as they leaned forward, cried, laughed, and audibly gasped as truths struck them as significant. Realizing their choices and attitudes were linked to these needs allowed them to see solutions where they hadn’t before.
- Despair lifted. Hope returned.
- Quicksand was swept away by solid Truth. A firm foundation was established.
- Hurricanes in the heart died down. Contentment took up residence.
Women were inspired as they believed again or for the first time that God permanently and authentically meets their needs. Therefore, they realized they could confidently stop looking to the wrong people and in the wrong places to have their needs met.
Seeing God meet needs never gets old. This is among the reasons partnering with EvanTell is thrilling for all of us at Celebrate Kids, Inc. They, too, are all about influence and life-transformation. Participating with them in the Save the Mother, Save her Child (SMSC) ministry matters because moms and dads matter. Children matter. Their salvation matters.