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Friday, April 09, 2010

The temporal battle of Want vs. Need

Lindsey Nobles - Christian blogger extraordinaire - has posted some thoughts on her struggle with her wants and her needs as part of her ongoing series on life goals and motivations...
I grew up surrounded by affluence. I grew up in a community where success was too often measured by the title on your business card, the size of your bank account, the car you drove, the places you had traveled, and the street you lived on. And oh, how I loved love the privilege that came comes with my affluence.

Truth be told, I am a spoiled brat by all practical standards. I have a hard time differentiating between want and need. I have a hard time understanding how much is enough. I have a hard time giving extravagantly because I am too busy living extravagantly.

Don't get me wrong... I give. I sponsor two children. I tithe. I step out in faith (or in reasonable faith) when my pastor asks us to think about how we can help expand the vision of our church.

But what I still haven't managed to do, with any success, is sacrifice. I haven't managed to stop indulging in my long list of wants – eating out, extravagant vacations, a new pair of shoes. I haven't realized that just because I WANT something doesn't mean that I NEED it.

That Lindsey is asking this of herself - indeed, that that anyone would ask this of himself or herself - demonstrates that she is far more along on the path of wisdom than most people ever get to appreciate.

Want vs. Need. It seems like it should be all too easy to decide that one is good and one is bad... but it's never going to be a cut and dried issue which can be resolved in terms of black and white. It is a contest we are bound to fight for as long as we are in this world.

However, within that battle there is the potential for massive personal and spiritual growth.

I realized years ago that before addressing whether I "want" a thing or "need" it, or even what God would have me to do, I ask: "What did God MAKE of me? What is my identity? What are my strengths? What are my weaknesses? How would a thing change me?"

Because most people seek what they "want" without even trying to understand what it entails to them as a person. And as a result, more often than not, a person will ask for something that they want but in the end will corrupt and destroy them. It might not do it immediately, but over time it will wear them down and utterly corrupt them.

The wise person however knows and asks for what they NEED. Realizing that they can ask and seek for something that will make them stronger, wiser, and better equipped to handle the life and challenges that God has presented before them. They they know how to steer clear of that which would ruin them.

I'm not saying there is something inherently "evil" with the concept of want. There are many things that I want also. But I've also learned (sometimes very painfully) that I should never ask for them on my own terms. Instead it is better to ask God to prepare me with what I need, and having faith that in time He will give me those things that I want... and that He will do so when I am at last prepared for them as He understands me, not as Chris understands me (because Chris messes up a lot ...)

So then Dear Readers, the moral of the story is: Ask to know what you need. And He will give you what you want :-)