Five Core Needs
by Kathy Koch, PhD
When my colleagues and I taught public school educators about the five core needs, I knew God had been left out of the equation. It bothered me more and more and eventually was a strong motivation for me to develop the model you’re reading about here. Even though our approach genuinely helped people, it wasn’t authentic.
The Lord used these seminars to show me how dangerous it is to try to meet God-created core needs without Him. As I taught, I was convicted of my own need to turn completely to Him and away from things that can fade away—like knowledge and reputation. Therefore, I studied His Word to determine if these were in fact core needs designed by Him to be met primarily in Him. He showed me that they are, through my studies and discussions with mentors and Christian leaders I respected.
Here’s how this works:
When we place our faith in God’s Son, Jesus Christ, we can know beyond knowledge that we can wholeheartedly trust God (Romans 8:1, security, #1). Then we are better able to understand, believe, and respect who we are in Christ (Ephesians 1:4, identity, #2). Knowledge about ourselves in Christ (we are forgiven and purified when we confess our sins –1 John 1:9) assures us of our place in His family and meets our need for belonging (#3). We experience His acceptance and know we can continue approaching Him with confident assurance (Heb. 4:16).
There are other authentic connections too. Knowing God will never leave or forsake us (Deut. 31:6) influences both belonging (#3—He wants us) and security (#1—we can trust Him; He’s there for us). What about purpose (#4)? Is it also connected to security? Yes. Our security increases when we discover that God trusts us enough to give us worthwhile and valuable purposes (Eph. 2:10).
There is also a link between the last wholeness need (competence, #5) and the first (security, #1). The more we learn to rely on and see God as our competence (John 15:5), the more secure we will become in Him as our firm, unfailing, ever-present, unmovable Rock. And reversing the direction, the more we choose to trust God (security), the more we believe He is our competence. (There are many other attributes, Scriptures, and relationships we could include, but these hopefully give you an idea of the interconnectedness of needs.)
I hope the connections between the five core needs are becoming clearer as we go along. The needs are all link and each one influences the others. Do notice, though, that without having our security (#1) met in a trustworthy God through faith in Christ, nothing else has a solid foundation. Although we may not always enter a change process at the “natural” beginning stage of security, we must eventually know who we can trust. Without our security well established in Christ, our other four needs can’t be met in entirely healthy ways.
Each of the five needs is so responsive to the others that, even when we make a small change, many parts of our lives are affected (for good or bad) depending on the nature of that change.
For example, do you know any children who are temporarily very successful academically (competence, #5)? They may do well in the eighth grade, but not ninth. Or perhaps they begin the school year well, but later their grades slide. These types of “chute” experiences often occur because children lack purpose (#4). Their academic abilities can satisfy them for a while. They might do well just because they like learning or because certain relationships are influential (belonging, #3). But not having their need for purpose met (Why am I alive?) causes competence to eventually fall.
Excerpted from Five to Thrive: How to Determine If Your Core Needs are Being Met (And What to Do If They’re Not) (Moody Publishers, February 2020) by Kathy Koch, PhD.
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