Wants Versus Needs

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Wants Versus Needs

We live in a “want” culture. Our kids learn at a very young age, “what do you want for Christmas?” Or, if you take them to Toys R Usyou will hear: “I want this! I want that!” If a child is hollering for their mom or dad, parents usually respond with: “What do you want?” Hardly ever do we ask: “what do you need?”

This sets us up for a life of wants. I want a nicer car, an expensive pair of jeans, or a pint of Ben and Jerry’s New York Super Fudge Chunk ice cream.Unfortunately, we can justify our wants as needs, because they often fall under a sub-category of a need. After all, ice cream is a dairy in the food pyramid. I’m guilty of this thought process daily.

So we find small joys for short-lived moments in our wants. The new car smell lasts for about a month, and the jeans on our “retail therapy” shopping spree no longer fit after downing that pint of Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream.

Because of our focus on wants, it is no wonder why we have feuds and kerfuffle’s at many of our churches. People “want” certain things to happen. One group wants contemporary worship, another wants traditional worship, the older people want the pastor to visit more often, the younger people want the pastor to run youth events for their kids. The building committee wants to replace the 1970’s linoleum in the fellowship hall, parents want Sunday School during worship, and the list goes on.

Do these wants have any relevance for the church?

In our personal lives, long-term happiness and fulfillment is found in the things we need: friendships, food, shelter, stability, family and our faith.

This is how God wants to operate. God does not usually respond to our wants. But God always responds to our needs.

How then, does our church provide for the needs of God’s people? We could stop asking people what people want and discern what they need.

Recently I visited a bookstore downtown. After a few minutes of browsing, I grabbed a coffee and took a seat near a window. I just sat there, thinking, reading, and watching.

In that short time, my observations were overwhelming.

Two people were stopped for shoplifting.
A mother screamed and hit her kid. The store manager soon escorted her out.
A young woman was looking at the sale rack while having the following conversation on her cell phone: “I just got mad and walked off my job … I told you! … Yes, I’m just walking around …Well, they just made me mad, that’s why!”

  • I saw a middle-aged guy sitting outside on a small fence, looking like he has nowhere important to go.
  • Dozens of people waited outside the door for the bus … silently huddled together, not talking with one another.
  • Cop cars, bicycles and SUV’s raced down the street, all trying to get somewhere more important.
  • A gentleman sat down next to me and brought in his dinner from McDonalds. He had a teddy bear by him with balloon attached. A small child walked by and said “Happy Birthday!” He smiled and said “Thanks.” Here he was, celebrating his birthday alone, eating McDonalds at a bookstore.

You can almost put words to the expressions you see in the faces of the people…
“There has to be something greater than this.”

It is our job to show them.

This bookstore is only a small visual of all the suffering in our world of wants, waiting for someone to say, “I think we have something you need.”

It is our job to go sit in a window seat, look around, and see the needs of God’s people.

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