Our Competence Is Met In God

Our Competence Is Met In God

As I wrote in the introductory blog to this short series, at this time of year, it’s easy to confuse wants and needs. We think we need a new suitcase, outfit, baking pan, or magazine subscription. We don’t. We want them. What about your children?

It’s also easy to try to meet legitimate needs in unhealthy and unstable ways. We might not even know why we’re doing it. Because God created us with a need for security, identity, belonging, purpose, and competence, these needs must be met. It’s why we’re drawn to Him. He designed us to have Him meet these needs.

When we don’t yet know God or we don’t rely on Him, we’ll turn to counterfeit temporaries. At this time of year, as stress can increase and we can be distracted, this might be even more common. It’s sad, since it’s now when we celebrate the coming of the One Who delights to meet our needs – once and for all.

Counterfeit Temporaries and the Real Thing

Security – we may place our security in the belief we’ll get everything we want under the tree. We may trust that our kids won’t let us down by being disobedient when visiting relatives.

Our security should be met in God who is trustworthy, in people who are trustworthy, and appropriately in ourselves as we mature.

Identity – we may define ourselves narrowly and pridefully as the one who bakes the best Happy Birthday Jesus cake. Then we’ll expect many compliments. If we don’t get them, deep disappointment and even anger can set in. Now our behavior will change as a result.

Our identity should be accurate, current, and complete/broad and rooted in our identity in Christ.

Belonging – we may try to meet this need by the number of people who pay attention to us and make us feel good. How many people come to our parties? How many like our social media posts? We may need to be the center of attention to feel like we belong.

Our belonging should be met in God and His never-ending, unconditional love.

Purpose – we may believe our purpose is to be powerful so we love telling others what to do. We hate feeling weak so we have to be in charge. Or, perhaps our purpose is to keep our kids happy so we say “yes” to everything even when we know, in the long-run, it won’t be good for them. Now, they may be temporarily happy, but we’ll be concerned and maybe stressed.

Our purpose should be met by glorifying God, serving, and impacting people for good.

Competence: What Do I Do Well?

Competence – this last core need is heavily influenced by the others. It’s defined by the question “What do I do well?”

If we think our security is met by having obedient children then our competence must be met by being a fabulous disciplinarian. If our children act up, we now have two needs not met. This will make us feel unsteady for sure.

If our identity hinges upon baking the best cake, then we must learn how to bake so we never make mistakes.

If our belonging need is met by being popular and the center of attention then we must be good at this, too. We might do whatever it takes to maintain our popularity. We may put others down, lie, show off, brag, and more.

And if our purpose is to maintain power than we must know how to do this. We may manipulate people, yell at people, and never let others tell us what to do.

Shift from Unhealthy to Healthy!

I’m sure you can see how unhealthy all of this is. When we and our children are good at things we wish they weren’t, it’s because we or they are trying to meet a foundational core need in something that’s unhealthy. Only when we shift that to healthy, and primarily God, will we and they be able to shift the competence goals.

In other words, if they want to meet their need for security in telling the truth and being responsible, then they’ll want to be good at both. Imagine!

If they want their identity to be “I’m kind and a creative writer who loves God” they’ll want to develop their kindness muscles, work on writing skills, and demonstrate their love for God through their choices.

When they want to meet their belonging need by connecting better to God, they may listen to you talk about why you pray as often as you do and how you believe you have heard answers from God.

If they want to glorify God to meet their purpose, they’ll be motivated to develop Christlike character and a heart for others so they can impact them in helpful ways.

I pray thinking about the unhealthy and healthy ways we and our kids can meet our need for competence will help you have some strategic conversations and make some changes. There are healthy ways – studying to gain skills to earn a promotion, asking to be mentored so your character improves, learning how to wisely make decisions, and more. As with the other core needs, relying on God is authentic and results in more permanent results.

Our competence should be met in God and His power, wisdom, and love. He fully equips us and He empowers us.

Now. What’s the evidence now that God is meeting your need for competence? How does our reliance on Him show up?

  • Do we pray and wait for answers?
  • Do we credit God for answers and His leading?
  • Do we turn to the Word of God when making decisions and solving problems?
  • Do we read the Word when anxious and confused?
  • Do we study the Word so we know it in times of need?
  • Do we worship because we know and love God and enjoy experiencing Him as we worship?
  • Do we attend classes to gain spiritual maturity?
  • Do we value church and learn from our pastors?
  • What else can you think of?
  • How can you talk with your children about these ways God meets our need for competence?

Wow. This was a long post. It’s important to me and hopefully to you. Thanks for reading it. Perhaps you could go back to the beginning and skim it now with the full context in mind. What stands out as very important to you?


Our core needs matter greatly so I blog about them regularly. If you haven’t read these posts in this series, you might want to.

Security and Identity



The core needs are also 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.