Psychologist Abraham Maslow formulated his Hierarchy of Needs in 1943. The link will give you more information, but for this article I notice that — once survival needs like food and shelter are met — people are highly motivated by the need for significance. The bottom two layers of Maslow’s hierarchy are food/shelter and safety/health. After that are belonging/connection, status/esteem, and finally self-actualization/fulfillment. I see much of even the destructive behavior in our society as stemming from misguided attempts to meet those top three needs.
People grasp for money or fame or power. They compare themselves to others. They dress especially nice, or especially wild, or especially sloppy, whatever is “different” and will stand out against those around them. They try to identify with some group — politics, church, gang, gender, race — that they consider to be special; if their group is special, then so are they. They try to oppress others to make themselves feel like “more”. Or the reverse: They look for ways to feel oppressed so that the “others” owe them something. So much time and energy is being spent on getting seen or heard or noticed!
None of that is necessary: They, and you and I, are already special! Here are some ways that the Bible tells us that we are all significant to God.
God created us in His own image.
Among all of the plants, animals, planets and stars that God created, only humankind is specifically made to mirror God (Genesis 1:26-27) 1. Only we have a choice, the free will to decide whether to love and obey God…or whether to reject Him and go our own way. That should be enough status to make Maslow happy. 🙂
God has a purpose for each life.
He put together each unique person — from the womb — to fit into a specific place in His overall plan for the world (Psalm 139:13-14, Jeremiah 1:5) 2. Striving toward that purpose goes a long way toward meeting Maslow’s “self-actualization” need.
God knows each person intimately.
God communicates with each person so that we can know Him.
Through nature (Psalm 19:1-4), through His word in the Bible, through an internal voice speaking to our soul, and most especially through Jesus, He is telling us what He is like. The entire Bible is the story of God pursuing a relationship with mankind. He’s done everything in His power to give us a connection to Him.
God came in person to rescue us.
Jesus — who is God — became also a human. He stooped to become one of His own creatures, to identify completely with us (Hebrews 4:15-16). Then He gave His life as a sacrifice in order to make it possible for us to be reconciled to Him and have a permanent loving relationship with Him. We’re worth the lifeblood of God! How’s that for esteem?
Significance comes from God.
Each of us is special not because of anything inherent in us. We don’t have to do or be or have anything to set us apart from others. Everyone is unique, and everyone is special to God simply because He says so. He loves you!
He loves you as you are, even though He knows things about you that you may wish were different. He loves you even with flaws; He is fully capable of correcting those flaws, or of turning them into assets instead.
So relax. Quit trying to be special. You already are! Just be His much-loved child, the most special thing anyone can be. That will move you quickly toward the top of Maslow’s pyramid.