We all have wants. Whether it’s material possessions, a certain position or career, a goal, a relationship, whatever it may be, we all have them. We also have needs.
What is the difference between a want and a need?
I would argue a want is something we desire but without it we can continue living in relative peace. A need, on the other hand, is something which the absence thereof presents a clear danger to our well-being. We want to eat pizza for dinner. We need nourishment to survive. We don’t need to have pizza to survive (though it is darn tasty). But at some point, we need to give our bodies the sustenance it requires.
My point is the two words do not mean the same thing. Yet many times we confuse a want with a need. We want success so badly we exaggerate its importance. We feel we need success. Our focus shifts away from working hard and believing we’ll get there to an almost desperate, driving pursuit.
We want to be in a relationship which is healthy and normal. But when we start to need to be in a relationship, we can get into trouble. Once again, our thinking is out of balance. We may settle for something less than what is best for us. (I know whereof I speak. Trust me.)
Do you want to eat again right after you’ve had a meal?
Most of the time, the answer is no. We’re satisfied. They say it’s the best time to go food shopping. You’re not hungry, so you’re less likely to visit the snack and dessert aisles and add a bunch of items to your cart not on your list that aren’t good for you.
Culture has a way of making us think our wants are needs.
The best advertising and marketing campaigns are designed around convincing the consumer he or she cannot live without their product. Social media only amplifies this messaging. It’s not just formal commercials. It’s influencers and celebrities advocating for this brand or that product or program.
Then there’s always peer pressure, which never ends. Yes, it’s most common in our younger years, but I offer it never truly disappears. As adults we just get better at filtering it out, or our peers just get subtler.
Whatever the medium, the message is always you need…
Your life would be better if…
Your career would take off if…
You’d drop that weight quickly if…
Your skin would look healthier if…
Your relationships would improve if…
But what happens when you buy the product, try the program, etc. and nothing changes?
We’ve all experienced the disappointment of believing in something (or someone) and it not working out as we expected. The pain can range from a mild irritation to a devastating sadness.
Does it hurt so much because we turned a want into a need?
As I often state, I’m a resident expert on absolutely nothing. But in the course of my time here on earth (why does that sound like I’m an alien logging in my journal?), I know I’ve definitely given situations more importance and attention than they deserved. Whether it was in my professional or personal life, in my mind something (or one) entered the need category instead of resting appropriately in the want one. When things didn’t turn out as I expected, I was crushed. Looking back, I realize it would always have hurt. No one likes it when things go south. But the degree of pain I was dealing with was directly correlated to the increased level of importance I had given the whole matter in the first place.
Once I morphed a want into a need, I was setting myself up for a greater disappointment.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying everything is my fault. Of course, it isn’t. What I am saying is we should have clear distinctions in our minds (and hearts) about our wants versus our needs.
How can we guard ourselves against elevating wants to needs?
The short answer is we can’t, at least not in our own strength. I’ve written before about how a relationship with the Lord is the key to everything. That’s because it is. I’m not saying your life will be easy breezy, but you can have access to wisdom and direction that you wouldn’t have under normal circumstances. In the past, I made a lot of wants into needs, and never knew it until it was too late. But by God’s grace, I’m learning to recognize the shift going on in me and redirect myself.
Is there One need above all others?
I say yes, and His name is Jesus. There are many verses dealing with relying on Him for every situation. You know I brought receipts. (Any and all Bible verses, unless otherwise indicated, are from biblegateway.com, NIV, emphasis added.) I included a few here, but strongly encourage you to do a search on your own.
Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you. (Hebrews 13:5)
There are two essential pieces to this verse: 1) being content and 2) knowing He’s got you. I suggest being content doesn’t mean all your wants are satisfied. But because God will never leave you or forsake you, your needs are met. Doubt me? Great. Check this out:
And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:19)
I’d drop the mic here, but I don’t have one. And if I drop my laptop, I might break it. But you get the point. Our needs are met in and through Him. This doesn’t mean we should sit back and just expect everything to come to us. Sometimes it happens that way. Sometimes we must get up and earn it. But in either case, it is the Lord who is our Provider. He gives us the means and opportunity to have our needs met.
This is why I say relationship with Him is the One need we must satisfy first. Because without Him and His unfailing, unchanging love, we can easily fall prey to having wants turn to needs which may then turn to disappointment and sorrow.
Does this mean we’ll never be disappointed? No. But He will always be there to comfort us, and He will never be the cause of our sadness. Check this out:
God is not a man, that He should lie, nor a son of man, that He should repent. Has He said, and will He not do? Or has He spoken, and will He not make it good? (Numbers 23:19, NKJV)
I leave you with this, let Him into your life and your heart. He can and will supply all your needs. I can testify to that. And He will never leave you wanting for unconditional love and acceptance.
Until next time, stay happy, stay healthy, stay in the know. Please remember, you may want many things, but you need Jesus.
Look forward to hearing from you.