Which is better, to be needed or to be wanted?
Before you answer, consider the following scenarios.
If you need a job, being needed is a great thing and may get you in the door for the interview, or even lead to getting the job. But imagine after you have the interview that they need you and want you—that’s even better.
If you are in a dire circumstance, like stranded at sea or in a medical emergency, you need someone to help you.
Recently, I found myself in this scenario with debilitating back pain. I needed someone, immediately. A friend of mine recommended a doctor that saw me right away and now has me under a great plan of care compared to what I had received in the past—he has gone from someone I needed to someone I wanted for my back care.
In sports, sometimes the backup player is needed because the starter gets hurt. If the backup does a tremendous job, he sometimes becomes the wanted starter. Such was the case with quarterback Nick Foles with the Philadelphia Eagles. In 2017, he went in to replace Carson Wentz, due to Carson’s injury, and then stayed in to lead them to a Superbowl Championship. He was needed at first, but it gave him a chance to share what he could do with others and resulted in being wanted.
Consider the role of a parent. When your children are first born, they definitely need you. They depend on you for safety, food, shelter, clean diapers and clothes, not to mention emotional support, life lessons, and so on. Even when they are older, they might still need you for college tuition or help with food and shelter.
As parents, the greatest feeling in the world, however, is not to be needed, but to be wanted. Andy Stanley, Pastor of North Point Community Church and frequent speaker, said that he and his wife set a goal in parenting that their kids would “want to come home even when they don't have to come home.”
That demonstrates being wanted, not needed. Are there people in your life that you can help feel wanted?
Think about your friends and acquaintances.
While being needed can lead to being wanted and they can coexist, most of us would agree that it feels better when someone wants to be around us and wants to tap into our skills, knowledge, and passions, instead of just doing it out of pure need. After all, if it is out of need, anyone with the same skills and knowledge would do.
This leads well into our conversation about God. You see, God wants you, specifically.
When it comes to our relationship with God, He wants us to be in a relationship with Him. He is God—He doesn’t need us in order to accomplish things. But He wants us to benefit from being included in His plans for us, being in relationship with Him, and carrying out His will for our lives.
Some of that includes letting others in our lives know they are wanted and loved by us and by God.
So, I return to the original question: “Which is better, to be needed or to be wanted?”
While it might vary by circumstance, I would say it certainly feels better to be wanted than just needed. If this is true for you, it is also true for others around you.
Let’s make others feel wanted.
Let’s love them the way God loves us.
For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
CTFAITH ACTION STEP—LIVING IT
So what’s the action step?
There are people in your family, on your street, in your church, and in your city that do not feel wanted.
This holiday season and year-round, show your appreciation and love, and God’s love, by letting people know they are wanted, not just needed. There are many ways to do this, but a simple way to start is just to tell them “I love you” or “I enjoy being around you” and giving them a hug.
Perhaps, you can invite them to a meal, party, or church and offer to sit with them. It will grow from there and, who knows, maybe you will find out they wanted to be around you all along.