One of my favorite lessons in our weekly curriculum we do with students at Teen Lifeline is the discussion about resources. While for many the very idea of talking about resources seems really dull, the way we are able to do it really shines a light into the darker areas of life.
We ask students to rate four areas of resource in their lives – courage, connectedness, capability, and their sense of importance (count). Our goal is to see where they think they are on all four of these resources, then talk about ways to increase each of these in ways that are realistic and in their own power.
For me the most revealing topic is count. We ask the question – “how much can you count on other people to come through for you when things are difficult?”. When you really boil down the question, it reads – “How much do you think you matter?”.
A majority of teens rate themselves quite low in this area. There are many factors that play into this answer, but the overall sense of most teens is they are alone in this world and they don’t have a lot of folks who really care. Many think the world is against them or that most don’t care.
Others actually make the conscious choice to live life on their own. They don’t need anyone else’s help and they will make it fine on their own. Dependence is weakness and independence is the mark of someone who has it all figured out.
One of the foundational theories our curriculum is based upon is Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. This simple chart categorizes the different levels of need every person has to feel safe, secure, satisfied, and fulfilled. The way this chart is laid out demonstrates what is foundational to higher levels of learning and experience.
As you can see, the basic needs in life are set up as the foundation. The short of it is – if you aren’t getting enough food, rest, shelter, and other basic human functions – you will not feel safe, secure, have good relationships, or even self-actualize and be a healthy individual.
For many of the students I work with, the bottom two levels of the pyramid are shaky at best. Yet, they feel like they can achieve the higher levels of security without having the bottom two levels squared away. This is a tough reality to witness, and it isn’t their fault.
When we look at the temptations Jesus faced, the first tactic of Satan was to attack the bottom level of the pyramid. Jesus was hungry, thirsty, and tired. Satan knew Jesus had the power given to him by God to address those issues head on. The accuser was simply reminding Jesus of this fact.
What if Jesus had given in and turned the stones to bread? Would it have been that big of a deal? Maybe if Jesus had eaten, he would have the ability to face the other temptations more effectively. It’s a good thing I wasn’t in that desert.
Instead of responding as a king would (why would a king ever go hungry?), Jesus chose a very pedestrian, human retort – “Man does not live on bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God”. This doesn’t mean food is unimportant. Rather, Jesus is choosing the path of dependence on the most basic level instead of relying on his own power to get him through.
And, if you depend on God for the most basic of things – though really the most important – how much more will you depend on him for other things in life. In other words, if you depend on God for your breath, food, shelter, life – why would you doubt his power to provide on the other levels of life?
Why would you doubt that God can provide when he already gives you the ability to live? So many times we contradict ourselves when we doubt God’s love and power though our pure existence screams otherwise.
Jesus chose the path of humanity and dependence, though he had every ability to take the path of power. If we call him “Lord” and “Savior”, let us follow in his footsteps and do the same.
How has this played out in your life? What areas of life do you doubt God’s provision?