Throughout my life as a lawyer, pastor and author, I’ve always had a heart for the underdog. I’ve always felt compassion for people who face difficult struggles. I used to think that this was just a part of my personality. When I was a little girl with five older brothers, I’d share a drink of my pop (yes, I’m from the Chicago area!) with all of them if they didn’t have any….leaving me with little for myself. But sharing with them made me happy, because they were happy.
I recently was reminded of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs….you know, the one you studied in school that identifies the basic needs of humans in a pyramid, beginning at the base with physiological needs, with the higher needs at the apex.
According to Maslow, only when you’ve satisfied the basic needs can you focus on achieving the highest of human needs, which is self-actualization. The pyramid shows that self-actualization includes, at the very top, morality. Every human has a need to fulfill a sense of what’s right and moral in their lives. The human heart that hasn’t been corrupted yearns for goodness and justice, not just for self, but for all.
Self-actualization to me means that you’ve been fortunate enough to have your other basic needs met to such an extent that you can focus on the higher desires of your hearts. When you reach that point, you’re able to figure out that it’s not all about you. When you self-actualize, you can stop focusing on your own needs and think more about what purpose you will serve to others in this world.