Confusing Wants With Needs

Confusing Wants With Needs

With a high-pitched voice, my 20-month old great nephew likes to say (or scream!) “I need!” It sounds more like this: “I nnnneeeeeeeedddd!!!!!” Mostly, he just wants something. He’s rarely asking for something he needs.

As December begins, are your children saying, screaming, or shouting something similar? If you’re brave enough to take them shopping with you, do they believe they need what they see around every corner? Do we? Or, maybe you’re hearing a lot of “I want this” as they point to pictures when shopping online.

At this time of year, maybe more than any other, we must make sure we know the difference between wants and needs. We don’t need everything we want. We don’t even need everything we think we need. Right? But, some needs do need to be met.

What do I mean? In order to be ready and able to joyfully celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, later this month, we should make sure our core needs are met in healthy ways. Of course, the same thing is true for our children. But, it starts with us.

God created us with five core needs of security, identity, belonging, purpose, and competence that He meets permanently and authentically. He knit these needs into us so we’d be drawn to Him as the solution of our condition. With unmet needs, we’re not complete. We may feel broken and empty. We may drift from here to there and be directionless. The things we choose to do may not fulfill us.

God meets our needs!

Knowing God wants to meet our needs will enrich our Christmas celebrations. If you have invited Him to meet them by trusting Jesus as your Savior through faith in God, your celebrations will be even richer.

Recognizing how many activities this month masquerade as substitute solutions for our legitimate needs can greatly improve your month. Absolutely. If we’re not careful, we’ll end up being miserable. Our kids will be, too.

I’ll elaborate on these ideas in the next three blogs. For now, think about these concepts. Observe for evidence of whether you and/or your kids are confusing wants with needs and whether you’re not meeting needs in legitimate ways. Getting this right will enrich your December and all of 2019. I believe this!

  • Security is not met with perfection.
  • Identity is not met by trying to be who others say we must be.
  • Belonging is not met by the number of “friends” we accumulate.
  • Purpose is not met by accumulating possessions.
  • Competence is not met by comparing ourselves to others.

How are these legitimate needs met? Come back to read more.


I’ve taught about these core needs for over 30 years and they are the topic of my first book, Finding Authentic Hope and Wholeness: Five Questions that Will Change Your Life. You can purchase it here. We also have support products you might want to check out.