What Do You Need?

NFL_Draft_2010_set_at_Radio_City_Music_HallCollege football has just concluded its recruiting season, and the NFL Draft Combine is a little over a week away. As our favorite college and pro teams are developing their rosters of the future, one theme is constant: Needs must be addressed. Every team has strengths and weaknesses, some more glaring than others. General managers, scouts, and coaches will spend a great deal of time evaluating talents and personalities to find the right fit for their squads. NFL teams spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to ensure they pick the right people to plug the right holes.

There is an analogue in the spiritual realm. Like football teams, human beings and human cultures have needs that must be addressed. The fundamental human need is to have a relationship with the Creator. Augustine addresses God: “[M]an, this part of Your creation, desires to praise You. You move us to delight in praising You; for You have formed us for Yourself, and our hearts are restless till they find rest in You.”1 The Bible describes the “whole duty of man” as the fearing of God and the keeping of His commandments (Ecclesiastes 12:13). Torment for man is separation from God (2 Thessalonians 1:9), whereas true joy is available only in a relationship with Him (1 Thessalonians 3:9; 1 Peter 1:8, Jude 1:24).

But we must be more specific by identifying our individual spiritual needs. Just as it would be of little value for an NFL general manager to say “I already know that I need to get good football players, so I don’t really need to do any more evaluation of my team’s needs in particular,” it would be foolish for a human being to say, “I know that I need a relationship with God in order to be saved and satisfied, so I don’t need to evaluate my other particular beliefs and actions.” By telling the rich young man to sell all that he possessed and give it to the poor, Jesus implied that it was not enough for the young man to merely know that he needed to obey in general terms (Matthew 19:16-22). Rather, the young man needed to examine his own dedication to God.

And, just as it would be illogical for an NFL general manager to say, “I know what the Jacksonville Jaguars’ needs are, and my team doesn’t have those exact same needs, so I don’t really need to worry about evaluating my team’s needs,” it would be foolish for a person to say, “I know what Bob’s spiritual struggles are, and fortunately I don’t have the same problems, so I don’t have to evaluate my own personal needs.” Jesus’ parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector makes this point (Luke 18:9-14). The Pharisee was mistaken in standing before God to pronounce judgment on another instead of to confess his own faults. (There is a mode in which the people of God must judge others, but this judgment is to be righteous and biblical, not haughty pre-judgment [see Matthew 7:15-20; 1 Corinthians 5; 1 Corinthians 6:3; 2 Thessalonians 3:6].)

Are we serious about identifying our needs? Our future depends on it.


  1. Confessions, trans. J.G. Pilkington, Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, First Series, Vol. 1. Ed. Philip Schaff (Buffalo: Christian Literature Publishing, 1887), 1.1. 

- 2017