Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is often portrayed in the shape of a pyramid with the largest, most fundamental levels of need at the bottom and the need for self-actualization at the top.
The most fundamental and basic four layers of the pyramid contain the needs of esteem, friendship and love, security, and physical need. If these are not met, we’ll feel anxious and tense, according to Maslow.
His theory suggests that the most basic level of needs must be met before we strongly desire the secondary or higher-level needs.
These are the physical requirements for human survival.
If these requirements are not met, the human body cannot function properly and will ultimately fail.
Physiological needs are thought to be the most important – they should be met first.
Air, water, and food are metabolic requirements for our survival.
Once a person’s physiological needs are relatively satisfied, their safety needs take precedence and dominate behavior.
In the absence of physical safety, these safety needs manifest themselves in ways such as a preference for job security.
Love and belonging
After physiological and safety needs are fulfilled, the third level of human need is interpersonal, and involves feelings of belonging.
This need is especially strong in childhood and can override the need for safety – as seen in children who cling to abusive parents.
According to Maslow, humans need to feel a sense of belonging and acceptance among their social groups, whether these groups are large or small.
All humans have a need to feel respected, and this includes the need to have self-esteem and self-respect.
Esteem presents the typical human desire to be accepted and valued by others.
People often engage in a profession or hobby to gain recognition and a sense of contribution or value.
Low self-esteem or an inferiority complex may result from imbalances during this level in the hierarchy.
People with low self-esteem often need respect from others, and they may feel the need to seek fame or glory.
However, fame or glory will not help the person build their self-esteem until they accept who they are inside.
Psychological imbalances such as depression can hinder us from obtaining a higher level of self-esteem or self-respect.
Are your needs being met in these key areas? And how?
Are you leaning on and learning about the one – Jesus – who can give you your true identity?
Are you connecting with a healthy, loving community?
Are you ensuring safety for yourself and others?
Do you believe, deep down, that you are valuable, precious, loved…?
As we look after ourselves, body, mind, and spirit, we become more able to live the lives God intended for us.
Keep strong and hold on to God as you bring all your needs before his throne of grace…
“Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” (Hebrews 4:16)
I remember studying this years ago in psychology class. Our professor had us make observations as to the amount of overlap between each “step” in Maslow’s Pyramid. As I have become more involved in leadership positions in past jobs and even in leading and teaching Bible study, I have recently come to realize that as we climb higher on Maslow’s Pyramid we tend to want less of Jesus. I also noticed that the higher steps of this pyramid tend to have more overlap than near the bottom.
Everybody tends to pray earnestly for their most basic of needs for survival. Even if that prayer is not to God, but a prayer for help to another, weather it be a god, person, or whatever. As I have grown more in my walk with Jesus, I have noticed that most Christians, as opposed to “casual” believers and even non-believers, tend to have a more even need and desire to have God more involved in each step. Even expressing just as much thanks, humility, and need for His grace and mercy to maintain these areas or to move on to other areas. Taking note of many persons whose faith in God is lacking or even non-existent believe they themselves, through hard work and dedication, were solely responsible for their “reaching the top”.
Many of these observations are evident in the old saying “there are no atheists in fox holes”. In other words — praying to God for survival and safety. Now take a look at so many who have achieved success as the world sees it — financial stability, political power, and fame to name a few. How many of these people really give God all the credit for such lofty elevation? This is not to say there are no individuals who do not continue to seek God and give Him all the glory for how far they have climbed. But the numbers are so much lower at the top than at the bottom for those who look to God for help and advancement. How many people in the Bible who have moved into positions of wealth and power gave credit to God? How many have left Him by the wayside?
In short — at the bottom we (as a people) tend to want God more where we need Him to meet our most basic needs, as opposed to at the very top where we eventually come to believe we did it all by ourselves. However, the truth being; we need Him every step of the way. And thusly we should give Him the glory through our praise and worship every step of the way.
I am by no means a psychology major anymore (mechanical engineering is my forte). What is your take in this, Ali?
Interesting Liz, thanks for your insights here. Yes this blog didn’t go into the self-actualization part as I wanted to keep the focus on God and how he provides for our needs, although obviously there is an element of free will and personal responsibility in our daily choices. But yes, it is God that provides; God who sustains; God who gives us our identity and our most life-changing sense of self (in Christ)… We have choices as to how we get our needs met, but we’re ultimately reliant on God as provider and life-giver. He will be there even when we are on danger, or when our self-esteem is low, or when everything seems lost. And he will draw us back to himself.
“And he will draw us back to himself.” — That is what makes God so awesome! He always wants us back. 🙂