Psychologist Abraham Maslow was a humanist psychologist who introduced a concept concerning motivations behind human behavior. This theory was introduced in 1943 when he wrote a paper A Theory of Human Motivation. He later authored a book entitled Motivation and Personality. A basic summation of Maslow’s theory rests upon 5-levels or Hierarchy of Needs all humanity are motivated to satisfy. This is typically represented with a pyramid.
At the base of the pyramid is our basic physiological needs: Food, Water, Sleep, and Warmth. The second level coincides with the first and is our need for safety. We want to feel secure and safe. The third level shifts our needs toward relational wellness and that is our sense of love and our sense of belonging. It is where we fulfill our need to have intimate and close relationships with others. As we progress to the fourth level – it is more focused on our sense of worth. Our esteem. Sense of identity. A sense of feeling accomplished and valued. This leads us to the fifth level and that is self-actualization where we achieve (or realize) our full potential.
Later on, a sixth level was added to where one may experience a spiritual aspect of fulfillment and that is transcendence. At this level – an individual gives themselves over to something that is beyond their own existence, it is a place of altruism, spiritual growth, and wisdom.
How we breakdown the levels show the temporal needs forming the foundation before the personal and then the spiritual needs:
- Physiological Needs: Food, Water, Breathing, Homeostasis
- Security and Safety Needs: Financial security, health and wellness, safety against accidents and injury
- Social Needs: Friendships, romantic attachments, family, social groups, community groups, Churches and religious organizations
- Esteem Needs: Appreciation, acknowledgement, value, worth, respect, achievement, prestige – self-esteem and personal worth
- Self-actualization needs: utilization of talents, capabilities, actualization of one’s potential, sense of fulfillment, developing or having developed their character and identity
With this understanding in mind there are 5-specific spiritual hierarchal needs that lead us toward a meaningful and deeper spiritual growth and maturation.
Faith, Trust, and Hope in Jesus Christ
The first and foremost of our spiritual hierarchal needs is the foundation of all others. It is our faith, trust, and hope in Jesus Christ. Scripture is replete with the call to trust in God. Without this foundation, all other spiritual needs will go unfulfilled (See, Acts 4:10–12; Mosiah 3:17; Moroni 7:24–26; Articles of Faith 1:4).
When we place our faith, trust, and hope in Christ, we are accepting and believing in the reality that he exists. That we are learning of his character and strive toward living according to His will. It also means that we recognize our dependence and reliance on Him where we trust in his love, intelligence, and power. We come to believe that what he taught (and continues to teach) is true. Our trust in him does not always mean we may fully understand all things. It means we acknowledge that he does and that he has experienced all things that we may have, or are, or will experience.
Through our faith, we begin to grow, and it motivates us to continue to follow Him and become fruitful. Each and every one of us also discovers our sense of worth, our sense of purpose, and find meaning in this life and the challenges we face. And this faith occurs when we become spiritually awakened and born again (John 3:3–5, 2 Corinthians 5:17, Mosiah 3:19). It is a process that transforms us from the old man to a new creation in Christ.
It is also the foundation where we are able to strive toward loving our Heavenly Father with all our heart, might, mind, and strength.
Deep and Enriching Relationships
Our second spiritual needs rests upon the development of rich, enduring, and enriching relationships. Whether it is within our families, within our faith-based communities, or within our workplace. We desire to have relationships. After all, we are social beings by nature. This also includes our ability to find a sense of fulfillment, purpose, and experience respect and appreciation.
Take for instance the condition of the Christians at Corinth. They were divisive and the Apostle Paul wrote unto them to be … perfectly joined together in the same mind and same judgment (1 Corinthians 1:10). This, of course, means that they were to be united in fellowship with one another since they were united in fellowship with Christ. All of which is based on our love toward one another (John 13:35).
Another aspect of our need for deeper and enriching relationships is so that we are able to be heard, to be listened too, to be comforted in time of need. In those times where we are experiencing challenges, we want to be able to have others around us, praying for and with us, bringing us comfort. And yet how oft do many feel disconnected, isolated, and without any social support or encouragement? Specifically in this day and age when it is all the more important.
Possessing a Sense of Meaning and Purpose
Through our faith in Jesus Christ, developing enriching and intimate relationships, we move into a place where we hunger for a sense of meaning and purpose. It is summed in seeking answers to who we are. It helps us define our reason for being here. And it helps us seek out the answer to what our destiny is.
Scripture reveals that we are children of God. It also reveals that our purpose is to experience a mortal life where we are able to grow by experiencing adversity. All of which depends upon our faith, trust, and hope in Christ. It also depends on our relationships we have within our homes, and within our congregations. All of which coalesce into the purpose of God’s work and glory – our immortality and eternal life (Moses 1:39).
Peace, Assurance, and Confidence
As we move up the ladder of our spiritual hierarchy of needs, we come to the fourth aspect of spiritual needs. Our desire is to have peace of mind in a troubling world. The assurance of strength, safety, and security that our temporal and spiritual needs will be met. Confident in that when we seek, we shall find (Matthew 7:7).
The savior defined the type of peace we shall inherit – and that is the peace I shall leave you. Not the peace our society and culture may identify or define. Peace that only the savior is able to provide through his infinite atonement. What was this gift of peace? A reflection of our Heavenly Father’s, and Jesus’ divine character, strength, goodness, love, sovereignty, and power. Such peace the world is not able to offer us. It is the peace we have where we are able to live in harmony in order to show Christ-like love toward others. It is the peace where we are able to minister unto others in their time of need. It is peace where grace may abound in our lives and hearts as we continue to grow in faith, truth, and light.
Wisdom, Grace, Truth, and Light
At the pinnacle of our spiritual needs – we come to where we gain wisdom. Experience grace. Walk in truth. And become a light unto the world. All because we initially placed our faith, hope, and trust in Jesus Christ. Through him, we grow and mature in our faith. We come to know the vital beliefs that gives us a sense of meaning and purpose – even in times of tragedies, losses, and failures. Wisdom, Grace, Truth, and Light guides us toward our eternal destiny.
All are based on our values, priorities, and commitments to the principle teachings of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It is by which we understand God’s justice, mercy, integrity, and love. They help us define who we are and guides us in responsible living. Knowing we are accountable for our own thoughts and behaviors.
It also deepens our awareness of other people’s needs. Allows us to utilize those resources to help them heal from those painful wounds where there is resentment, rejection, abandonment, shame and guilt, grief, and loss of hope.
Through wisdom, grace, truth, and light we are able to deepen our understanding of trust, sense of worth, hope, and joy in this life.
So, what of our temporal needs? When we seek first God’s Kingdom, we shall be blessed with those things we stand in need of temporally. As our faith increases, so does our ability to seek God and conform to his will and desire for our lives. In doing so, we will be blessed through our obedience to the teachings and commandments that he has given us.
Where are you at in meeting your spiritual needs? What are you struggling with today? Christ is calling is to go forward with meaning and purpose – and to do so, we ought to consider where we are at concerning our spiritual needs.
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