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The Next BIG Thing

March 29, 2019

It’s big.  I mean REALLY big.  Huge.  Mega Huge.

I don’t always click the button to learn more, or stay tuned for the rest of the ad, but sometimes I do.  I can count on one hand the number of times that what I clicked on or stayed tuned for was actually really big.  It’s usually much adieu about nothing.

I’ve noticed this is true in the professional world I live in, too, the world of Marriage and Family.  Books, blogs, videos, conferences, retreats, consultations and coaching get launched all the time, claiming that they’re the next big thing in marriage and family life.  Some of what gets pushed out from these sources is actually good.

But let’s be honest, when it comes to your marriage and your family, there’s not going to be a next big thing that will absolutely revolutionize you, your wife, your kids, you dog, your cat (and pony, if you’ve got one).  More than 3000 years ago Solomon wrote, “What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.” (Ecclesiastes 1:9)  In terms of human nature, human needs and human relationships, the centuries between then and now have proven him right.  There isn’t going to be a commercialized, monetized next big thing for your marriage or your family.  There is nothing new under the sun.

There will be A next big thing in your marriage and your family, though.  That’s the nature of marriage and family life.  It’s developmental and dynamic.  It doesn’t come to some magical point and hold steady.  I sometimes wish this were true, but its not.  Generally, I’m glad it’s not.  Different stages of development bring different challenges and hazards.  And different opportunities.  Even when your kids are grown and out of your house.  Even after decades of marriage.  There’s going to be A next big thing for all of us.

The fundamental needs of families and marriages haven’t changes since Solomon’s day, though.  Cultures change.  Technology changes.  Styles and trends change.  But people and their needs stay the same.

If you had to study any psychology at all in your educational experience, you came across Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.  It’s a pyramid of 5 levels, starting with the most basic physiological needs and moving up to emotional fulfillment, or what Maslow identified as “self-actualization.  From food, shelter, physical safety, love and belonging, to self-esteem, and then finally self-actualization, or being the real you.  I think it would be pretty hard to improve on this.

I’ve read a number of Christian writers and teachers who criticize Maslow because he leaves out the essential aspect of our relationship with God, and the redemptive work of Jesus.  They’re right.  Maslow leaves out the spiritual dimension.  I see it as part of the top three layers of the pyramid – love/belonging, esteem, self-actualization.  I won’t argue for Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs being a biblical model because it’s not.  But there’s plenty of room for interpreting its value through the lens of God’s design.  Sorry.  Bunny trail.

Here’s why I’m bringing Maslow up at all.  While each of us are unique, and fearfully and wonderfully made by a loving Heavenly Father, we’re all very much the same in terms of what our needs are.  You family’s needs are not fundamentally any different than every other family that’s ever existed.  Really?  Really.

But what we identify as needs has changed a lot over time.  Any conversation you have with anybody about what they feel they need will quickly convince you that a whole lot of what we think of as needs are really only wants.  Like your mobile phone.  Need, right?  Uh…  A need is something you cannot do without.  We (I include myself in this!) confuse convenient with necessary.  Breaking or not being able to find your mobile phone will make your day a lot less convenient, but you’ll be able to make it through the day or night without it.  You’ll limp through.  But you’ll get through.

My wife and I recently downsized to one car.  It’s made Debbie’s and my life more complicated to not each have our own vehicle, but getting a second car doesn’t fit strictly in the need category.  We can make it with one car.  We have to plan a lot more, and we have to be more flexible and thoughtful, but do we actually need a second car?

I could fill up this blog with dozens of other examples, but you get it.  Needs and wants aren’t the same thing.

Your kids won’t easily see the difference, though.  Because you can’t easily see the difference.

Don’t punish them or yourself for this.  Just factor it into your conversations and talk about how to make the distinction between a need and a want.  What makes something one and not the other?  And how do you figure out the difference when there’s lots of emotion in it?

The process on this is in some ways more valuable than the product is.  So in partnership with God, step into the process with yourself and with your family.  Teach (and learn) how to know and live within the difference between needs and wants.

So you’ll know, I’ll be coming back to this whole thing about the universal fundamental needs of families.

From → Marriage

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