Meeting Needs

April 3, 2018 // Denise Boggs

Do You Have Unmet Emotional Needs?

The following story will bring understanding to how unmet emotional needs can be at the root of marriage problems and lead to Burn-Out. The emotional needs are highlighted. You will see from this story how easy it is to get caught up in a cycle of performance, trying to get your needs met. This is a predictable story of how someone in ministry can rely on it to meet their emotional needs.

John’s Story: John feels called by God to go into ministry from a young age. John gets married and spends the next few years preparing himself for ministry. Preparations are made and the big day comes to launch the church. Not knowing he has an unmet emotional need for affirmation, John gets caught up in the great surge, or “high,” of emotions over the success of the church launch. It feels great! John finally feels he has worth and value.

This “high” compels John to work harder and harder building his ministry. The problem is the “high” of the church launch causes him to press harder for the same momentum, only to be deeply disappointed in the weeks that follow. The focus becomes the numbers, and the harder he works, the less time he has to be home with his family. His wife may be by his side, but she feels more lonely the harder he works and the larger the church grows. With her growing loneliness, she has no desire to meet her husband’s needs for appreciation or affection. As time goes on they have less time to focus on the emotional health of their marriage and those daily touches that meet the emotional needs God’s way grow less and less.

As the church grows, so does John’s performance orientation. He is constantly trying to perform and be good enough to receive affirmation and appreciation from his peers and spiritual overseers. Instead of getting his needs met God’s way, through God and family, John begins to get these needs met through the accolades of his good performance. The harder John works, the greater the numbers of the church increases. But, it’s a trap – the increase of numbers and more acceptance and encouragement from his spiritual overseers, along with ministry, becomes his source to meet his own needs. It feels so good and right to finally receive the affirmation he never received from his father.

With the increased support from his church, John spends even more hours away from his family. But, he doesn’t realize that the support of a church can never meet the emotional needs that can only be met by God and his family. The increase of numbers, and the increase of demands, can be so deceiving. Like with
John, his unmet needs for affirmation that he never received from his father growing up are now being met through his performance for a “spiritual father.” His unmet childhood needs keep him striving to perform to be good enough, and to be accepted as a good spiritual son. One pat on the back lasts for only a day, though, and he’s empty again, back to striving the next day, unaware the cycle of highs and lows are a sign of Burn-Out.

Most burned-out pastors cannot pinpoint the emptiness they feel. The higher the numbers, the less time they have for family. The trap is set – the lows will follow after a high and there seems to always be someone positioned by the enemy who will offer that much needed comfort and affection. The danger of Burn-Out is this: a burned-out pastor who leans on the wrong person to meet his or her needs will soon fall, and all respect will be lost.

Are you a pastor, constantly growing tired in ministry? Do you need a safe place to rest and rejuvenate? I invite you to register for our Pastors Only Retreat with myself, my husband Pastor Lee Boggs, and Dr. Pete Sulack. This retreat will be held in the beautiful Whitestone Country Inn in Kingston, TN June 28 – 30, 2018. You can find more information here.

If you wish to learn more about Unmet Needs, you can purchase our booklet for men or women.


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