No one wants to give their children Rocks, but do you really know what the Bread is? Today AMBrewster consults the Word of God and a guy named Abraham Maslow to tell what Christian parents should really be giving their kids and what’s just another failed philosophy of life.
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Thank you for joining us for the second part of our study, “The Rock, The Bread, and The Donut.” If you did not hear our last episode, please listen to that one first.
Last time we talked about all the Rocks we give our kids. It’s not very flattering; in fact, it’s downright ugly. But we’re sinners, and our natural propensity is to sin against our family members. Only by the grace of God can we be Ambassador Parents. Only through the strength of the Holy Spirit can we hope to give our kids the Bread they so desperately need.
But more on that in a minute.
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Okay, so last time we discussed the Rocks; let’s talk about the Bread.
I mentioned on the last show that it may be easy for you to assume you understand what this Bread-thing is all about, but be sure to stick with us to the end. You may be surprised.
Alright, by way of review, Rocks are the things we give our kids that don’t glorify God. The Bread are the things we give our kids that do glorify God.
I loosely based this concept off Matthew 7:9 which reads, “Which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone?”
To make it simple, we can say that Bread are things your children need. It always glorifies God when we parents meet our children’s true, biblical needs. But what do our children actually need?
I’m sure we’ve heard our kids proclaim that they needed a sucker or a phone or a friend or a certain grade or a spot on the team or a toy. But you and I were probably wise enough to help our kids understand that there’s a big difference between what we need and what we want.
On the other hand, there are plenty of articles that tell parents what their children need. Sometimes the suggestion seems good, but there are other times they claim our kids need things God’s condemned. During the 90’s we saw a reincarnation of Abraham Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs in the self-esteem movement. I can’t tell you how many Christian parents were drawn away into the belief that their children needed to possess this supposed self-esteem. Even though the Bible speaks directly to the issue, too many parents listened to the Failure Philosophies instead of listening to God’s Truth. We can generally spot the failures in our children’s thinking on needs and wants, but perhaps we’re not as good at navigating mine fields laid by the “professionals.”
So, let’s see how Maslow’s concept of needs compares to Scripture and figure out two things: 1. Are we providing for our children’s needs, and 2. Are we giving them Rocks believing that it’s Bread.
In 1943, in his paper, “A Theory of Human Motivation,” Abraham Maslow postulated that people have the following five needs:
Maslow suggested these five categories are the same in everyone, but the specifics of realizing these categories will be different in most people.
Humans beings do have needs, it would be foolish to suggest otherwise, but are Maslow’s categories needs or are they just desires, or are they a complicated mix? How do we know? Who better to explain what we really need than the God Who created us in the first place?
According to the Bible all of our needs fall into four categories: Physical, Emotional, Mental, and Spiritual.
The first of Maslow’s needs seems to play well with the biblical concept of Physical Needs.
Maslow conjectured that all humans have two needs that fit into what we’re going to call Physical Needs. His category of Physiological Needs included things necessary for life such as eating, drinking, sleeping, excretion, clothing, shelter, and the like. However he added certain things to this category that aren’t necessary for life. For example, Maslow added sex to the list.
Maslow also had a category called Safety Needs which partially fits into the Physical Needs category. He argued that everyone needs personal safety, financial safety, health and well-being, and a perceived safety net against accidents and illnesses.
This Safety category is only partially physical because though there may be enough money in the bank, a high-maintenance individual may not feel like there’s enough. So, a large part of Maslow’s Safety Needs spills over into the next category of needs.
However, before we move on, let’s take a moment to consider what God says about our Physical Needs.
1. We Need Food, Water, and Shelter to Live
“31 Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all.” Matthew 6:31-32
2. We Need Health to Live
“When the crowds learned it, they followed him, and he welcomed them and spoke to them of the kingdom of God and cured those who had need of healing.” Luke 9:11
3. We Need the Provision Necessary for Food, Water, Shelter, and Health to Live
“13 For I do not mean that others should be eased and you burdened, but that as a matter of fairness 14 your abundance at the present time should supply their need, so that their abundance may supply your need, that there may be fairness. 15 As it is written, ‘Whoever gathered much had nothing left over, and whoever gathered little had no lack.’” II Corinthians 8:13-15
Physically speaking, these are the only needs God says we have. In fact, it’s interesting to note that physical safety is not only never listed among our Physical Needs, but the Bible frequently mentions that we’re capable of living full, Christ-honoring, satisfied lives even in the middle of persecution, tribulation, testing, distress, correction, and death.
It’s also important to notice that though we can say we need food, water, shelter, and health in order to live . . . we don’t need any of them to live a satisfied life.
“10 [Satisfied] are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 11 [Satisfied] are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. 12 Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven,” Matthew 5:10-12
This may seem very confusing at the moment, but we’ll discuss this paradox more later.
So, before we move on, let me ask you, how are you doing with the provision of your children’s Physical Needs? Most parents who would listen to this podcast probably fair pretty well in this category. Your children likely have more food, water, and shelter than they need. In fact, they likely have never even considered what life would be like without those needs met. We need to praise God if that’s our reality, because most of the parents in the world cannot say they’re able to regularly meet their children’s most basic physical needs.
But — before we continue — there is another physical need that must be addressed.
4. We Need to Do and Say Everything God Commands.
This need is rooted in a deeper necessity, but for now let’s notice that our children need to physically go where God commands, physically do what God commands, and physically say what God commands.
The Bible is teeming with such commands, but I’ll share only three for time’s sake.
“19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.” Matthew 28:19-20
“You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” Matthew 5:48
“So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” I Corinthians 10:31
A quick perusal of this list shows us that we and our children do not — in fact — need a car, a cup of coffee, a toy, a girlfriend, a boyfriend, a job, a pizza, a grade, a drug, or a vacation. In order to live we need only sustenance, water, shelter, and a basically functioning body.
But when it comes to experiencing a satisfying life . . . we don’t need any of those things. So even our needs are conditional. Even if we didn’t receive the things needed for life, if we’re born again, we know that to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord. In certain ways, we can say that we don’t even need this life.
So, the first category of needs is Physical Needs. The second biblical category of needs is Emotional Needs.
Of Maslow’s five categories, three of them are almost entirely emotional. He proposed that we need to feel safe (Safety Needs), that we need to feel as though we are respected and are part of valuable relationships (Love & Belonging Needs), and we also need to feel good about ourselves (Self-Esteem Needs).
What’s interesting to note is that the Bible says much about feelings, but says little about what we need to feel.
However, the Bible repeatedly tells us what not to feel. We don’t have time to discuss this in any detail, but we’ve done a number of episodes about emotions, so please feel free to broaden your understanding of this topic by listening to those. But, by way of example, the Bible tells us that we need to not be afraid.
We need to not fear.
“Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God;” Isaiah 41:10
“Do not be anxious about anything,” Philippians 4:6
Again, it’s important to notice that we don’t need to feel safe, at peace, or happy in order to glorify God and be satisfied. Even Jesus Himself — Who never sinned — experienced grief, pain, sadness, and persecution and was the only human to perfectly honor and glorify the Father.
It’s nice to feel good, but it’s not always necessary.
There are other emotions the Bible has commanded us not to feel, but — as I said — you can check out our episodes that are all about emotions.
Now, this category is honestly more difficult than the first to quantify. Are our children having their emotional needs met? Let me encourage you to listen to our Merest Christianity series which started in episode 95. Your children’s emotions are directly tied to what they believe. If you want to meet your children’d emotional needs, you must be able to meet their Spiritual Needs. We’ll talk more about those in a minute.
The third biblical category of needs is Mental Needs.
For Maslow, the Mental Needs comprised the highest level of needs for any human. He referred to this category of needs as Self-Actualization. Maslow described this level as the desire to accomplish everything that one can, to become the master of all he desires to achieve. Of course, Maslow himself later criticized his own theory, stating that man has an additional need to constantly be challenged, overcome, grow, and repeat that process all throughout life. He referred to this as Self-Transcendence.
God says man has Mental Needs as well, and the totality of Scripture informs us that . . .
We Need to Think and Believe in Line with God’s Reality.
Philippians 4:8 says,
“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”
“So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.” Romans 6:11
“Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus,” Philippians 2:5
It’s also difficult to quantify whether or not we’re meeting our children’s Mental Needs. However, you can do this. My mother was fantastic at challenging my and my sister’s thinking. She pushed us to ask questions. She taught us to think critically. She sharpened our reasoning and analytical skills. She drug us back to the Bible when our thoughts contradicted God’s Word.
It’s not enough to speak and act and assume your children are coming to all the right conclusions or interpreting the realities of life in a Christ-honoring way. The example I like to use is this: you send your child to their room because they jumped on the couch after being told to stop. But on their way to their room they’re thinking, “My mommy hates me. She doesn’t want me to have any fun.”
We humans are predisposed to believing myths and lies. That’s why our children need help learning to think biblically. Please listen to episode 104 to learn more about why your kids need an interpreter.
I also hope to do an episode in the future about how to teach your kids to think critically. However, we’ve already discussed an element of this ability. All of my conversations with Natasha Crain are part of teaching out children to use their minds to understand the things of Christ. I encourage you to listen to any episode with her in it.
Now, it’s unfortunate, but Maslow’s understanding of humanity’s needs stopped with the mental needs and fell infinitely short of the most important category of needs.
This most important of these categories is our Spiritual Needs.
We don’t have enough time to even scratch the surface of Spiritual Needs. However, the most vital of these needs is . . .
We Need to Have a Relationship with God
“You must be born again.” John 3:7
If your child has not been born again, they do not have a relationship with God. They’re not His child, and He’s not their Savior. To refuse His free gift of salvation is to reject His presence and authority in their life. All who reject Him in this life will be separated from Him for all eternity.
“16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.” John 3:16-18
We all desperately need to be born again followers of Christ. There is no hope for this life or the next without Him.
But beyond that, we not only need Christ to have future satisfaction for all eternity, we also need Him here on earth. Speaking of a relationship with Himself, and comparing the satisfaction He offers to the basic needs of food and water, Jesus said . . .
“I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.” John 6:35
Earlier we noted that the genuine satisfaction of which the Bible speaks seems paradoxical. This is why men like Maslow have never truly been able to understand how necessary our spiritual needs are. C.S.Lewis said, “If I find in myself desires which nothing in this world can satisfy, the only logical explanation is that I was made for another world.”
Our children constantly search for lasting satisfaction and cannot attain it. They eat and are later hungry. They get high, but the emptiness returns. The toy becomes old and they desire another. They partake in physical pleasure, but they feel no more loved when they’re done than they did when they started. The coffee wears off, the sugar high turns into a crash, the sickness returns, the exhaustion drags us down, the laughter dies, and then everyone rushes around to get one more tiny whiff of the momentary happiness they once felt . . . but is now gone.
How are you doing providing for your children’s Spiritual Needs? This may sound subjective, but the Bible is quite specific about how we can meet their Spiritual Needs. And though taking them to church may meet a small facet of theses needs, there is so much more we need to do.
Again, time will fail us to name them all, but you should defiantly check out “The Second Most Important Question to Ask Your Children,” episode 45. There’s also episode 92, “Christian Parenting 101.” The “5th Parent” series starts on episode 26 and the “Four Children” series starts on episode 55. As I mentioned before, “The Merest Christianity” series is invaluable, but so is the Anti-Terrorism series that starts on episode 37.
To sum it up, our children have legitimate needs — the greatest of which is spiritual. And giving them the things they genuinely need always glorifies God all the time.
To go back to our analogy, there is so much Bread with which to bless our children. Unfortunately, because of wrong priorities and sinful, selfish natures, we too often give our children Rocks when they ask for Bread. And sometimes our kids ask for Rocks, and we give them those too.
But there’s something else we give our children. As loving parents, we desire to give them so much more than their basic needs. We love to give good gifts to our kids. Not only do we give them biblical Truth, we provide them an education which opens their eyes to the other glorious realities of creation. Not only do we give them food and drink, but we give them healthy and tasty food and drink. And not only do we clothe them, we provide comfortable, attractive, affordable clothes and homes.
Are these needs, or are they something else? If everything we give our kids is either glorifying to God or not glorifying to God, then how can there be a third category?
Please join us next time for the conclusion of this study when we’ll discuss what Donut’s are, why they’re so difficult to understand, and how they can be the most wonderful and the most dangerous things we give our kids.
As always, please enjoy today’s show notes on our blog, Taking Back the Family.
And if you’re listening to this show on the Apple Podcasts app, don’t forget to rate and review us before your move with your day!
The Bread things of life are necessary. If we’re not giving them to our children, we’re not being good parents. Please study God’s Word to know what the Bread is, and daily work to make sure your kids have everything they need.
Have a great day!
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