In 1954, American psychologist Abraham Maslow cemented the concept of the “hierarchy of human needs.” It has become the basis for psychological study and therapy since its inception. While I do not agree with many of Maslow’s beliefs or assumptions, especially his humanistic worldview, I do see incredible value in his understanding of human needs. Picture each step as a building block toward the next need:
Physiological (basic human needs), Security (basic safety), Love and belonging (relationships),Esteem (confidence), Self (who you really are).
I have noticed something rather striking about this hierarchy and I am seeing it played out in the lives of people I interact with daily. At the very center of the diagram, just above our basic human physiological and security needs, is the need for loving and belonging. It struck me this morning as I was thinking about this that the very basic, intimate need for love and connection holds all of our other needs in place. It is, in essence, the linchpin of how God created us.
I meet people who are continually looking for love and belonging. They seek it out in destructive ways many times. They move from one toxic relationship to another and they look for physiological and safety needs to be met through friendship, intimacy and support. While this has been breakthrough concepts in psychological circles, it is certainly nothing new.
Two thousand years ago, Jesus told a young man that the greatest of all the laws was to love God and to love your neighbor as yourself. Love and belonging with our creator and love and belonging with our fellow man. Maslow didn’t solidify a humanistic concept, he repeated a biblical teaching.
The more I connect with people, the more I hear that people are looking for connection. They want true, rich relationships. They desire meaning and purpose beyond their own pleasures. They are not satisfied with the basics. They want the depth.
It is scary to reach toward those levels. But God created us to be a part of a loving community. He created us with a basic need and with a desire toward depth. We many times are too busy satisfying our basic desires we never move toward the point of intimacy with God or one another.
This week, how can you move toward intimacy? How can you promote loving God and loving others in your world? How can you help meet the most basic of needs for yourself and for those around you?