Maslow’s Hierarchy & the Lord’s Prayer

This is the outline of a talk given by the pastor at men’s breakfast.

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs:

1. Physiological Needs

Breathing, water, food, clothing, elimination, sex.

It is interesting that Jesus was easier on those who committed sexual sins than he was on those who committed religious sins. Maybe older people talk more about elimination because they are having less sex?  

2. Safety Needs. 

Shelter, a safe place to sleep and secure one’s food supply. Security in personal matters, family, clan, morals, employment, resources like property and savings, health. 

“The Higher Needs are built upon the Lower needs.  When the lower needs are in crisis, the higher needs no longer matter as much.”  “A hungry man is not overly concerned for his soul.” 

3. Love and Belongingness Needs (Friendship; family; intimacy, up-to and including marriage.

Family.  Robert Frost said, “Home is the place where, when you have to go there, they have to take you in.”  

“A friend is one who walks in after the whole world has walked out.” A Greeting Card

“A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.”Prov. 17:17   

“The poor is hated even of his own neighbor: but the rich hath many friends.”. Prov. 14:20  

Jesus gave people an alternative way to find love and belonging, the church and the kingdom. 

Mark 3:31   There came then his brethren and his mother, and, standing without, sent unto him, calling him. 32 And the multitude sat about him, and they said unto him, Behold, thy mother and thy brethren without seek for thee. 33 And he answered them, saying, Who is my mother, or my brethren? 34 And he looked round about on them which sat about him, and said, Behold my mother and my brethren! 35 For whosoever shall do the will of God, the same is my brother, and my sister, and mother.

4. Esteem (Confidence, achievement, respect)

Jesus recognized the need for Esteem in the two great commandments.  We are to love God with all the heart, soul, mind and strength, and we are to love our neighbor as we love ourselves.  “Love your neighbor as you love yourself.”

Who tells you who you are? 

Most American men identify themselves in terms of their work and profession.  Family. Church. Lodge. Club. Hobbies. Women identify with family, parents, husband, children, etc.  Children invariably take refuge in family. This is why divorce is so hard on children; their world is coming apart.

When we grieve the loss of someone or something that we love, we buy substitutes for happiness. Perhaps you recall 

Led Zeppelin’ song, “Stairway to Heaven?” 

There’s a lady who’s sure
All that glitters is gold
And she’s buying a stairway to heaven
When she gets there she knows
If the stores are all closed
With a word she can get what she came for
Oh oh oh oh and she’s buying a stairway to heaven

Women go to the mall.  Men go to the hardware store, or Amazon. I recently found “Naval Jelly,” which cleans away rust, on Amazon, after searching several stores for it locally, to no avail.

Maslow spoke of “The Jonah Complex.”  He named it for the reluctant prophet of the Old Testament who was afraid of success.  Most of us are afraid of success, too! Maslow used to address his classes in university saying, “Which of you will be president, a senator, a great scientists or doctor, the author of a best selling novel, etc.?”  His students would laugh.  Then Maslow would say, “If not you, then who?”  Good question.  If you you then who?

5. Self-Actualization  

(Morality, Creativity, Problem Solving, Knowledge for the Sake of Knowing, Beauty, Music, Art, Philosophy,How to play the piano, A second language,  Books of Biography, History,  Great literature, Etc.) 

I have been reading Bill Bryson’s book on the Royal Society of Science. The Society is c. 350 years old. In the early days of the society, people did not even know what they knew and what they did not know.  There was no encyclopedia of knowledge.  The Society engaged in the experiments we would not consider ridiculous.  The Society was the original “Myth Busters.” For instance, George Villiers, the Duke of Buckingham, newly admitted to the Society, produced what he promised was the horn of a unicorn. Legend had it that a circle drawn with the power of that horn would keep a spider trapped until it died.  They tried it.  A circle was made with the powder of “the unicorn’s horn,” and a spider set in the middle of it.  It ran out without harm. The trial being repeated several times. The spider once just sat in the powder as if eating it. That myth was busted!  Or, was it? Perhaps the unicorn’s horn was fake!

Bryson, Bill. Seeing Further: The Story of Science and the Royal Society (pp. 18-19). HarperCollins. Kindle Edition. 

The Lord’s Prayer

Jesus recognized and spoke to every level of need in the prayer he taught his disciples:  Here is Matthew’s version, from the Sermon on the Mount:

Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. 10 Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. 11 Give us this day our daily bread. 12 And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. 13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.  KJV

Which phrases speak to the various needs? See if you can identify them?

1. Physiological: “Give us this day our daily bread; deliver us from temptation; forgive us our sins…”

2. Safety: “Deliver us from evil.”

3. Love and Belongingness: “Thy kingdom come.” “Our Father.” We belong to God’s family, and have many brothers and sisters.

4. Esteem: “Our Father which art in heaven!”  God is our father!

5. Self-Actualization 

I believe that the whole prayer speaks to this need, for it gives us intimate knowledge of the Disciple’s path to God and to Self-Actualization/Self-Fulfillment.

Thanks for listening!

Worth Green, Th.M., D.Min.

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